February 20, 2011

AND THE SPORT DIED WITH HIM:

10 Years Later: How Dale Earnhardt's Death at Daytona 500 Changed NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tries to Create His Own Legacy, Move on From Tragedy (KAREN TRAVERS, MARK FLAMINI and JESSICA SMALL, Feb. 19, 2010, ABC News)

The death of Earnhardt, a stock-car legend, brought sweeping safety changes to the dangerous sport.

"I believe it required us to study longer, work harder and understand what the limitations of the human body are and really study the impacts, not only on the car but residual effects on the body," said Ricky Craven, a former NASCAR driver and a racing analyst for ESPN. "NASCAR has implemented some great changes. They have built a safer race car. They have mandated devices that have helped to keep drivers protected."

Tracks now have softer crash-walls, cars have better seat-belt systems and roll-cages and NASCAR drivers are now required to wear a head-and-neck safety device.

Earnhardt refused to wear one and many experts believe it would have saved his life.

"[Drivers] don't want something new to come into their environment, something that can distract them or slow them down," Craven said. "Any change that they would perceive to be a negative, they resist it.

"And they think that they are resilient and could survive anything and give little consideration to being hurt until someone, a member of your family, is injured or fatally injured and then get's everybody's attention."


He was the last driver with the sort of mystique that made racing potentially popular. It's no coincidence it has been in decline the past ten years.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2011 6:01 AM
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