I'll start with the obvious: kudos to Danica for not only finishing the Daytona 500, but also for keeping her nose clean and finishing eighth! That's a record high finish for a woman in that race, and potentially for a Cup race. Outstanding. I look forward to her keeping up the good work and shoving some solid results in haters' faces.
But the most shocking and potentially terrible event from Daytona this weekend was the accident in the last seconds of the Nationwide race on Saturday, which sent a couple dozen fans to the hospital.
There was a lot of discussion online about how to make catch-fences safer for both fans and drivers, a conversation started after Dan Wheldon died from impacting a pole of such a fence. That's probably a good conversation to have.
But I'm also curious about another question: are race fans asking to take their lives in their hands by attending a race? Plenty of drivers said (mostly tweeted, as I was following a lot of the conversation on Twitter) that they understand and assume the risks inherent in racing every time they get behind the wheel, but fans shouldn't.
Some fans quickly responded: oh yes we should and do. We love racing the way it is, don't change it!
Obviously racing is pretty darn safe for the fans. This was the first accident of its kind since 1999, I believe, aside from a broken jaw in the last couple years. Considering fans sit just yards from 43 chunks of metal hurtling around at 180+ mph, it's a pretty safe sport to watch—at least compared to the past, when fans stood right next to sand or dirt tracks and were regularly run over. Maybe racing isn't as safe a spectator sport as swimming, for instance, but who wants to watch swimming? Or bowling?
So my question to you all is how much risk do we accept, and are we willing to accept, to watch our favorite racing? I think I'll take some, but I don't want to sit right next to the pavement, personally....
What's your vote? Near the action? In a safe zone? Never at a track at all?