NASCAR races are extremely fun to watch. The sight of sports cars covered in sponsored logos just whizzing past in a split of a second, the sound of engines working on overload combined with the smell of burning tyres grinding against asphalt just gives a rush of adrenaline to the viewer. What makes the sport so exciting, rather nerve-wracking, is the fear of a blunder that could take place even with the slightest of nudges between the races that are going at 320 kph.
Car crashes are pretty common in racing events, much like NASCAR Daytona 500 which produced one of the biggest collisions in the history of the sport.
When driver Paul Menard tried to do a 'bump and run' around Matt DiBenedetto's car number 95, he nudged the rear passenger side of DiBenedetto's ride resulting in it to spin out in the middle of the race track while knocking out 17 cars in his way with the race in its last leg.
Although nobody got injured during the crash, which is miraculous to say the least and Menard took complete responsibility for the entire incident, what prepares a race driver's psyche to take the hit during the smash is worth talking about.
In an interview with Tampa Bay Times, NASCAR driver and one of the sufferers of the Daytona crash, Aric Almirola shares his experience.
“At a certain point in the wreck, you're just kind of along for the ride. The initial instinct is to try to drive the car and avoid the wreck. Once you know that you're in the wreck, you kind of just brace for impact,” said the driver.
“A lot of people take their hands off the steering wheel, but that is very unnatural for me. I keep my hands on the steering wheel. I kind of lock my elbow in and just, everything tenses up and tightens up and you brace for impact.”
Amongst the first cars to get involved in the chain reaction that Menard had started, Almirola's ride (# 10) got tagged behind car #12 and almost did a somersault. Due to the momentum of the drag in favour of the car, Almirola stayed on his wheels and didn't turn over.
In totality, the crash led to wrecking 21 cars (almost half of the contestants) but luckily not a single driver got injured.
Obviously, it wasn't long before people took to Twitter to show their concerns towards the mishap and the safety of the racers:
February 20, 2019
Now that's a nasty crash... #Daytona— Steve Twynstra (@SteveTwynstra) February 17, 2019
The biggest Daytona 500 crash of the whole night!!! pic.twitter.com/dvYojiuAzG— Gameoholic1994 (@gameoholic1994) February 17, 2019
Daytona 500. What a crash...... pic.twitter.com/03ufmvwH5h— Parrish Hadley (@ParrishHadley1) February 18, 2019
February 17, 2019
Meant to post this Sunday - my son reacting to the crash at the Daytona 500. pic.twitter.com/bcpkJqwtqp— Roy White III (@RDubThree) February 19, 2019
February 18, 2019