Dale Earnhardt Jnr, NASCAR, Daytona, 2015

NASCAR fans injured after car hits fence in crash

Weekend Racing Wrap

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Dale Earnhardt Jnr, NASCAR, Daytona, 2015

NASCARs second visit to Daytona this year ended with ‘The Big One’ happening on the final lap. Austin Dillon was launched into the fence, showering the crowd with debris which left some with minor injuries.

Elsewhere, Volkswagen faced more opposition in the World Rally Championship and for the first time this year the Euroformula Open championship leader left a race weekend without a win.

NASCAR

Round 17: Daytona International Speedway

Just one week after IndyCar’s pack racing at Fontana drew criticism, NASCAR’s latest restrictor-plate race ended with the kind of huge accident known as ‘The Big One’.

While Dale Earnhardt Jnr took the chequered flag first, dozens of cars were wiped out behind him after Denny Hamlin was pushed into a spin, triggering a huge shunt.

Next race: Kentucky Speedway (11th July)

World Rally Championship

Round 7: Poland

Sebastien Ogier took his fifth win from seven rounds so far this season, but was pushed all the way by not just Volkswagen team mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala and the M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Ott Tanak.

Tanak led early on before a mistake handed the initiative to Ogier. The reigning champion stayed ahead until the end, but the top four were covered by no more than 25 seconds until the final stage, where an eerror by Latvala handed Tanak his second podium finish.

Theirry Neuville also crashed on the previous stage, rolling his Hyundai but making it to the finish, albeit with a wooden post sticking out of his rear wheel arch. Former F1 driver Robert Kubica had a solid home event, picking up four points for eighth place following a string of crashes in previous rounds.

Next round: Finland (31st July – 2nd August)

Euroformula Open

Round 5: Red Bull Ring, Austria

Race one saw a maiden winner in the category, with Leonardo Pulcini taking the spoils ahead of Konstantin Tereschenko and Tanart Sathienthirakul, after front runner and pole sitter Vitor Baptista retired on the first lap.

Baptista’s weekend rapidly improved however, when he took a lights-to-flag win in race two ahead of Yarin Stern and Yu Kanumaru, with Tereschenko fourth. The latter leads the championship by 11 points from Baptista ahead of the summer break.

Next round: Spa, Belgium (5th – 6th September)

World Rallycross Championship

Round 6: Holjesbanan, Sweden

Timmy Hansen overtook Mattias Ekstrom on the final corner to cross the line first at his home rallycross event in Sweden. But he didn’t win, as a penalty for exceeding track limits handing Ekstrom the home victory.

Andreas Bakkerud finished third to complete an all Scandinavian podium in Sweden but reigning Champion and Championship leader Petter Solberg failed to finish for the first time this year after breaking his steering on a kerb.

Next race: Canada (7th – 8th August)

Also last weekend

Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix despite stiff competition from the Williams’, his team mate and the weather.

However the support races were all run in dry conditions. Ex-Sauber reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin claimed the feature race win in GP2 ahead of Alexander Rossi, with runaway points leader Stoffel Vandoorne third. On Sunday Rio Haryanto took another sprint race ahead of Ferrari and Red Bull juniors Raffaele Marciello and Pierre Gasly respectively, with Vandoorne posting his first non-score of the season in ninth.

Menawhile in GP3 Marvin Kirchhofer claimed the race one win from pole position ahead of home favourites Emil Bernstorff and Matt Parry – with the latter taking his debut podium, and in race two Kevin Ceccon claimed the honours, ahead of Esteban Ocon and reverse grid pole-sitter Ralph Boschung.

Over to you

Which of these races did you see, and what did you enjoy? Was there something that caught your eye that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments.

Look out for loads more racing highlights in Weekend Racing Wrap next week, featuring IndyCar, Formula Renault 3.5, European Formula Three, Auto GP, DTM, WTCC, Australia V8s and NASCAR.

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  • 64 comments on “NASCAR fans injured after car hits fence in crash”

    1. Andy (@andybantam)
      6th July 2015, 13:24

      They’ll literally wait until someone is killed before making these oval circuits safer for spectators.

      1. @andybantam I really think you have to blame the type of racing NASCAR is engineering for crashes like that, not the circuits.

        It’s a tricky area, because there are clearly a lot of NASCAR fans who want that kind of action. But much as I’d like to see a NASCAR race in person, I wouldn’t buy a ticket for a front row seat at Daytona or Talladega…

        1. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
          6th July 2015, 13:41

          Just look at the crowd reaction to that crash, you can see lots of them cheering and fist pumping. It’s what they want.

          1. Andy (@andybantam)
            6th July 2015, 13:48

            Good point.

            There does seem to be a lot of blood lust in racing over the pond. Crashing is fine, but people getting hurt isn’t.

            1. They call it “the big one” and, from what I know, a serious portion of them is there to see it.

              It’s all about the crashes for some people.

              I mean, I like crashes as much as the next guy, but there’s really no need to put the lives of people in danger, in my opinion. All they need to do is force the cars to have proper brakes, and that’s already a huge improvements to the safety of it.

            2. This video shot by a fan reaffirms my ‘no way am I sitting there’ perspective:

              https://twitter.com/f1fanatic_co_uk/status/618094402527956992

            3. Proper brakes won’t do anything on oval tracks, especially when cars are tipped into a spin at 200mph

          2. Not just the crowd, the commentary is more impressed than appalled too. It’s great to see the driver get out unharmed, but that catch-fencing is nowhere near safe when driving cars as heavy as that at those speeds – do the audience sign an insurance waiver or something? Quite shocking.

            1. Andy (@andybantam)
              6th July 2015, 13:54

              It’s an absolute miracle that no one was killed.

              Crazy, crazy, crazy.

            2. In my experience, when you go watch a motorsport event, it’s on the assumption that it’s a risky thing and if things go wrong, the organizers, drivers, teams and such aren’t liable for your injuries.

              In sue-happy US of A, I guess it’s even more obvious, because I really can’t see them taking the risk of huge lawsuits whenever someone is injured by a bit of gravel that hit them in the face or something like that, let alone a huge crash like this.

            3. It’s usually written on the ticket, that fans assume the risk of being injured should debris enter the grandstands.

        2. Andy (@andybantam)
          6th July 2015, 13:46

          @keithcollantine I know what you mean. The style and speed of wheel to wheel racing on some of those ovals needs to be addressed at a regulatory level within the racing category. But, some of the aging ovals don’t seem to offer enough protection to spectators. I mean, some fencing and a concrete wall doesn’t seem like nearly enough to protect squishy humans from the carnage of an out of control car travelling at 170mph+. Perhaps reinforced, ice hockey style, perspex sheeting?

          I hope this goes some way in to explaining some of the cost drivers of F1 et al.

          1. I’m not convinced polycarb will work as catch fencing. It works in hockey as the highest speed there is (probably) about 20mph, and that’s about 100kg for a typical player. A 1500kg NASCAR at 200mph… not so much.

            1. Hockey pucks shatter the glass from time to time at speeds over 100MPH nevermind the weight. No way it would work. It is also worth mentioning the glass ruins the sight lines at long angles.

            2. You are wrong on the speeds its about there @raceprouk, as Steve writes the thing these perspex panels are about is slowing down a puck going straight into the grandstands, as it could easily kill at over 100 mph. They do that by taking some of the speed out on impact.

              Its possible that it would help prevent debris from injuring the fans if such a panel were placed behind the catch fencing, but when you take in account that it would greatly obscure viewing and then think about the cost to do so for a whole oval … not a practical solution IMO.

              The better solution is what Keith proposes, to change the approach to racing in the rules

            3. Andy (@andybantam)
              7th July 2015, 11:43

              @BasCB

              Alright, alright. I didn’t mean a system identical to the Ice Hockey, I meant a similar solution. A know a puck being flung in to the stands is completely different from a chewed up car flying through the air. ;)

              It’s a very difficult (and probably expensive) question.

        3. Nathan (@il-ferrarista)
          7th July 2015, 23:33

          Southern USA is to America what parts of the Balkans are to us europeans. May be politically very uncorrect, but they love a good battle with much bloodshed involved. That’s half the reason people watch Nascar – the crashes are amazing. No wonder fewer americans are watching Indycar – it’s no *so* crash-prone, and it has better racing overall. Yeehaw.

          1. At least your rather unsubtle viewpoints are not limited to merely one continent. Very cosmopolitan.

      2. It’s so damn entertaining though, as was Indycar at Fontana. The trade off between safety and entertainment will never be perfect.

        1. Andy (@andybantam)
          6th July 2015, 14:26

          I did enjoy that Indycar race. Even if I did watch it from behind my hands!

      3. COOPS (@superdupercooper)
        6th July 2015, 14:39

        > They’ll literally wait until someone is killed before making these oval circuits safer for spectators.

        I think it’ll take something of the magnitude of the 1955 Le Mans disaster before big changes are made. Although the racing seems great the drivers are spinning the chamber and playing Russian roulette. Just a matter of time until there is another fatality, possibly multiple. But to an extent, ‘it’s their meat’ and if that’s their choice, so be it.
        However for the fans, with so many cars getting airborne this season, sooner or later one is going in the crowd and there won’t be enough body bags.

      4. @andybantam it’s impossible to avoid seriously dangerous accidents in oval racing.

        The only thing they can do right now is put the spectators a lot further away from the track. I don’t know why they are so close in the first place, these guys are going 200 mph, 3 wide, laps after lap, and the grandstands are RIGHT THERE.

        F1 grandstands are 500 meters away from the track, even in slow-ish corners, and even on the inside.

        It’s not ideal, and it surely compromises a lot about the experience of watching these races, but come on… we see cars flying off to the fence way too many times.

        1. The first race I ever saw live was actually at Valencia, and that grandstand was maybe 30 feet from the track. This was at the slow 90 degree left-right chicane only a few corners from the start, so not really any risk to me (and MAN were those things loud!). I’m a little disappointed that there are only a few tracks on the calendar where you can be both in a place that will have exciting action and be close.

        2. Andy (@andybantam)
          6th July 2015, 17:07

          @fer-no65 That’s the thing, isn’t it? You can’t just move the spectators. Being so close is part of the appeal! It’s very impressive. But, there must be a solution that doesn’t spoil the spectacle.

          I just think those fences are dangerous under certain conditions and they should be looked at.

        3. I was at turn 7-8 grandstand at Sepang this year, maybe only 20m from the cars. great fun!

        4. @fer-no65 500 metres? Half a kilometre? Are you being serious?

          1. @baron @fer-no65
            Imagine putting the spectators half a kilometer away from the track at somewhere like Bristol Motor Speedway, which is barely twice the length & size of an athletics track.

          2. @baron it’s like saying “they are very far away” :P

            I should’ve said “they are like 500 meters from the track!”. I didn’t mean to claim it a fact.

      5. @andybantam I’d have to say they’ve got safety pretty much spot-on there! A 1500kg car literally thrown at the crowd at 170mph+ and there were a few minor injuries, driver walks away without a scratch!? Catch-fencing did it’s catching indeed!

        That’s what I call well prepared. Seriously impressive.

        I can’t stand NASCAR, but that was amazing disaster prevention engineering on show.

        1. Andy (@andybantam)
          6th July 2015, 16:50

          @psynrg I agree, to some extent, but not entirely. The positioning of the catch fencing and wall worked well. But not the fence structure itself. The catch fencing might have stopped one car, but it was completely mullered afterwards.

          If, by some freak occurrence, another car followed that one through the fence (totally possible, if unlikely), I couldn’t see it stopping another. A second car would only be stopped by the front row of spectators.

          I’d say that they “got away with it”

          1. The fencing works in a bend but don’t break ideal of thinking. You don’t want to be so rigid that you end up tearing a hole in it and bigger pieces of the car get sent into the crowd. (This is kinda what happened with Kyle Larson a few years ago, although he happened to hit a door in the fence). Obviously it need to be strong enough to keep the car in the track as well. Yes, it looks mauled, but that is what absorbed alot of the energy of the car.

            As for two cars hitting the same spot in the fence in the same crash? Possible, but astronomically improbable. Across all forms of motorsports, the closest I’ve ever seen that happening, was the 2011 Indycar crash at Las Vegas.

            1. Andy (@andybantam)
              6th July 2015, 18:40

              I understand that an Oval has unique challenges when it comes to spectator safety vs show, but have a look at the video a fan took from the grandstand. I mean, as safety devises go, it didn’t look that safe to me.

              Better than no fence at all, granted.

              There must be a better way.

              I’m pretty sure that those fences have steel cables running length ways that are under tension. Two things, I wouldn’t want to near one of those bad boys when it snaps, and, just by snapping one, you’ve compromised an entire section of fencing.

              It just seems a little bit ‘sellotape and pipe cleaners’ for a nation that has provided some of the best engineering the world has ever seen.

          2. Nathan (@il-ferrarista)
            7th July 2015, 23:43

            …Or second, or third, or for that matter tenth row. 100+ people fatalities is not impossible at all, if a car goes right trough the fence.

      6. Yep – having said that, is F1 much better? We talk about closed cockpits every time someone is nearly killed and then it all goes quiet again until it happens the following season and we all talk about it until it goes quiet and so on…

        Martin Brundle talked about how dangerous recovery vehicles on track were for years – I remember him saying it’s amazing no-one has hit one yet. Finally someone hits one and F1 brings in a bunch of rule changes to stop it happening…

    2. When the guy waving the checkered flag has to wear a helmet, you know it’s dangerous. Next time he will probably keep his visor down.

    3. That is a horrible looking crash, total miracle no-one was killed.
      Those fences may protect the fans somewhat but look how it tore the car to bits. Plus it pretty much stopped dead, like hitting a lamp-post from over 200mph!
      Would have been better off hitting the concrete wall, at least then the car would have bounced back off that…
      Would a possible solution be to build taller concrete walls on tracks like this? Move the fans higher too out of the “spash zone”

    4. NASCAR is and will always be a sport that attracts fans who want to see crashes. If this was in Europe or even FIA sanctioned they would’ve quit the championship years ago. The cars are safe but the racing and accident level is as high as a 1 mile kartin track with 50 blind people going about.

      You skipped Blancpain again.

      1. 2015 WEC/F1 raceweekends at SPa/Silverstone

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFIHvnYNa9I

        1. I swear those GP2 cars look faster and tons more impressive on track than the F1 ones.

          1. @tony031r, it’s an interesting way that we perceive things, because GP2 cars are substantially slower around Silverstone – in qualifying, Sirotkin set a 1m39.95s lap time, which, if you exclude Merhi (who had issues with his car) is still the thick end of 2.6s behind Stevens and 4.7s off the McLaren’s. Even in race trim, the GP2 cars are still several seconds a lap off the pace of an F1 car – it’s just careful editing that makes the cars look more visually impressive and faster.

      2. I don’t agree with you. Sure, there are some crazy fans that get off on crashes but NASCAR races are a lot of fun and far more exciting than F1 most of the time.
        Many different drivers can win races so there is at least some hope your favorite will win unlike F1. I don’t see the excitement of watching one of 2 drivers winning 20 poles in a row and all but 3 or 4 races.
        I do agree the FIA wouldn’t consider NASCAR type racing but in the mean time F1 is losing fans near and far due to the ineptness of the FIA.
        NASCAR has it’s issues but they can be solved for the most part. F1 is another story.
        The fist pumping is due to Dale Jr. winning the race.

      3. check out the idiot (one of many there) at 19 seconds. Hes having the time of his life, arms in the air and cheering, couldnt care less about the drivers safety. You do get the impression most Americans go there to see a crash. F1 fans are very different…

    5. Am I wrong in thinking Dillon was very lucky his car hit the fence, or indeed fenceposts, floor first and not with his roof?

    6. There is a new low drag/ low downforce body spec being developed by NASCAR- they have the opposite problem to F1 in that the cars out font cannot get away from cars behind on super-speedways, so all the cars are very close for the entire race. The new body will stop this because the drivers will have to lift in corners again instead of being flat around the entire track. Can’t come soon enough.

      1. Also- this is a good example of how problems in a racing series are solved, as opposed to F1 where the problems in the sport are just talked about.

        1. Andy (@andybantam)
          6th July 2015, 18:01

          Yes, but F1 teams are manufacturers of unique prototype cars, built to very tight regulations. You can’t just, by some all powerful decree, tell all of the teams to trim downforce off. Even if that did happen, the teams would find other ways to generate the lost downforce.

          F1 teams are sneakier than most. That’s just one of mechanisms that makes it so good. Ironically, it also makes it incredibly difficult to make blanket changes to the cars in the interest of the spectacle.

          1. Very solid points @andybantam.

    7. NASCAR is barely proper racing. So much depends on luck as opposed to strategy that it’s ridiculous. It’s too bad a lot of us in the USA go for that type of competition. F1 is much more real and a battle of engineers, designers and drivers than anything we have over here. NASCAR has been the WWF of racing for over a decade and a half.

    8. When spectators get killed by a car going through the catch fencing, then perhaps they’ll think about fixing the safety aspects.

      Then again, how many serial shooting events have taken place WITHOUT them taking the obvious action.

      US culture has a ‘bloodlust’ aspect to it.

      1. DK (@seijakessen)
        8th July 2015, 23:51

        @marlarkey

        You’re the embodiment of the typical Eurotrash who makes blanket statements about America, and likely has never been to the USA or has any real understanding of the USA. While it may have become the norm in Europe to be coddled from cradle to grave while giving up most personal freedoms for that privilege, America still has freedom.

        Since you no absolutely nothing about NASCAR, let me inform you that the catch fencing at Daytona was strengthened because of a crash there a few years back where the cars did go through the fencing. The catch fencing did its job Sunday night. Maybe you should get informed next time instead of spouting off.

        1. Typical misunderstanding…. strengthen the catch fencing then drivers get killed…. don’t strengthen the catch fencing then spectators get killed…. so many examples of catch fencing and poles killing drivers… debris injuring spectators… and this is tolerated…. WHY ?

          For the same bloodlust reasons that serial shootings are tolerated.

          USA is not free, its citizens are not free, they are prisoners of their own violence.

    9. Do all you guys think the left kink at the Interlagos main straight is much safer?

    10. Mark in Florida
      7th July 2015, 2:47

      Well,well just listen to all of the European NASCAR experts. I’m really amazed at the deep understanding you have. Myself I have actually been to the race several times and I have never felt like anyone wanted to see a fatal crash or have someone get hurt. The catch fence actually does it’s job quite well considering how many tons of force it controls. Daytona just spent 400 million dollars upgrading the track. It has safer barriers in the most crash prone corners. The catch fence was also upgraded. The skill level it takes to drive a 3500 pound car 200 mph is something that most people can’t fathom ask Juan Pablo Montoya , oh he quit and went to IndyCar didn’t he. By the way Los Vegas is probably the most dangerous track in NASCAR. The way the track is designed the sustained speed is higher, close to 200 mph all the way around.

      1. Vegas and…Texas, Charlotte, Kansas, California, Michigan or any of the other intermediate tracks with smooth surfaces. The difference is there is cars spread out at those tracks as opposed to the Daytona & Dega.

        The plate is the problem but the moment you take it out of the car you have a whole new set of problems with heavy cars pushing 240 MPH. Just imagine one of those getting airborne. Yikes!

        Look for me in the garage area at Kentucky this Saturday, a “proper” bumpy intermediate track imho.

      2. Hi Mark, thanks for chipping in here. Always good to read from someone who knows what they see from their own experience.

        What do you think about the solutions to cut down on this kind of very violent crashes in NASCAR? Do you think that what @cartwheel mentions above with the new spec cars will help?

        1. Mark in Florida
          7th July 2015, 13:11

          A lot of people who have watched NASCAR for years actually believe the car’s are too aero dependent. I know that F1 is the pinnacle of aero, but if you saw the money that team’s spend on tweaking the aero within the rule book it would make you faint. They use wind tunnels, cfd etc, just like F1 . The solution that would be the easiest for everyone to do would be to have less aero so that they were actually more like stock car’s from the factory. Then you could do away with the stupid restricter plate . That would get rid of some of the pack racing, the drivers would then slingshot pass in the corners instead of the freight training on the straight that causes the massive pile ups going into the next turn. NASCAR is always at some points going to have the big one it’s the nature of the beast when so many car’s that big are going just as fast as an F1 car is. But the car’s are incredibly safe and hardly anyone gets seriously hurt. And if NASCAR tried to move the fans too far back there would be a soccer stadium style riot. I have stood at the fence and watched the car’s roar by and it’s almost a spiritual experience. That’s what the fans love.

          1. Not familiar with the numbers, but I have seen the articles about that secret underground windtunnel/test road, we all know who owns one of the most sophisticated Full size windtunnels etc, so I can imagine that its a bit like F1 in that the biggest teams throw incredible effort and money at incredibly small details of the car that they are allowed (or can get away with) within the rules.

            As for the restrictor plates, as Steve K argues that would make them a LOT faster, which is not going to make it much safer either, is it?

    11. Crashes are a big draw – face it, we all watched that video because it was spectacular.

      By definition I don’t think you can call it ‘blood lust’; everyone enjoys the crashes but no-one wants to see a driver killed.

    12. We had the debate about pack racing with the Indycar race at Fontana recently & the Nascar crash again highlights the additional dangers that pack racing introduce.

      Like I said while discussing the Indycar race when you have everyone bunched together in a pack all it takes is 1 person to make a small mistake & nobody behind has any room to react so you just end up with ‘The big one’.

      Something else that Nascar has done over the past few years which just increases the likelihood of a big wreck like this is the Green white checker rule. Basically it prevents the race ending under yellow by extending the race distance if a yellow comes out before the start of the last lap & more often than not when they have a GWC you see it cause a big wreck because everyone turns into complete idiots & start taking ridiculous risks to gain places on those final 2 laps.
      In fact I believe the last 3-4 wrecks that have involved cars going up into the fence have occurred during a GWC finish, Maybe someone who watches Nascar more closely than I will be able to confirm/deny that?

      The unfortunate thing is that on the Non-plate ovals where there tends to be no pack racing the racing is actually very good & I enjoy watching, The plate races/pack racing however I just refuse to watch because to me its not racing, As the drivers say its just a crap shoot thats more down to luck & what line your in than actual skill that determines who finishes where & who avoids the big wrecks.

      I shall end by saying that most of the drivers hate having to drive these pack races & have lobbied Nascar a dozen times to try & end them…. But Nascar has never really cared much about driver opinion & just decides to fine any driver who says anything critical about the series, the officials etc.. to try & prevent them talking about against the things they don’t like.

      There have been a dozen near misses & lucky escapes the past few years where drivers or indeed fans/track workers could have suffered worse injuries than they did & eventually that luck will run out & this sort of racing is going to get somebody badly hurt or worse, Although to be honest I don’t think even that will prompt action from Nascar to end pack racing…. Its too entrenched into the series identity now unfortunately & seems to be something just as expected as the big one.

      1. +1

        If it had been an open wheel race, the pole would have demand it’s prize in the life of another driver. :(

    13. BTW just something on the Nascar video in regards to fans seemingly ‘cheering’ the crash.

      Bear in mind that the race had just been won by Dale Earnhart Jr who is the most popular driver in the series so fans who look to be celebrating/cheering the wreck were likely just celebrating Dale Jr’s win.

    14. Andy (@andybantam)
      8th July 2015, 19:06

      Just to say guys, I hope I didn’t come across as europhile jingoist. Although I don’t follow NASCAR, Indycar or any of the other top drawer motorsport categories operating in the USA, I do tune in for the big races. I occasionally watch some of the less prestigious races too.

      It’s true that the US and Europe do things a little differently, but that isn’t a bad thing! I respect US motorsport enormously.

    15. One of the more brutal wrecks I’ve seen in some 50 odd years of watching motorsport. Thank goodness no one was seriously injured or killed. A bullet was dodged here. However, contrary to what some perceptions may be the technology and emphasis on safety is mostly good and gets progressively better. in NASCAR and other racing series too. The driver cage and catch fence did their respective jobs remarkably well. Can improvements be made? Always. This accident will be studied and improvements will come from it.

      Plate racing which creates the perfect storm for pack racing is an issue. Plates were a “solution” to increased power on super speedways. Every problem has a solution and every solution has a problem. As mentioned above NASCAR is working on a new spec car that will hopefully solve some of these problems.

      I do not believe true racing fans in the US or anywhere really want to see blood or tragedy. Having been a fan and also a team member for a NASCAR Grand National West team (as photographer and web designer, not hands on the car) I can truly say in the stands, the pits and garage I have seen very few fans ever behave in such a way to be interpreted as bloodlust. Taking risks is in our nature. Wishing harm or enjoying harm to others has major psychological implications.

      I know there can be good racing without pack racing. There are ways to solve this in NASCAR and IndyCar.

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