Emergency personnel worked in the front grandstand at Daytona International Speedway to tend to injured spectators after a wreck on the final lap of the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona
Photographer: Jonathan Ferrey
Copyright Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The crash at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday that sent debris into the stands and dozens to the hospital is causing NASCAR fans to think twice about where they sit.
Race fans like Stuart resident Bill Sapienza was in the stands on Saturday when the wreckage from a car flew into seats a few rows away from him.
Sapienza said at first he did not realize fans had been hurt. But then he started to hear commotion and then the sirens from the ambulance.
He said watching the crash will not stop him from going to NASCAR races. Sapienza said though the wreck most likely will change how he watches the sport and how close he is willing to sit.
"You used to be able to walk right along that fence. Right along that walkway along the wall," said Sapienza via Skype from the Daytona 500. "Those cars go screaming past your knees only two-feet on the other side of that wall at 200 miles an hour. We used to do that. I don't think we'll be doing that anymore."
Sapienza and other race fans said they feel the fence did its job of stopping the engine from going into the stands.
Some NASCAR fans do think the sport needs to look into make some safety changes that could include installing another layer of fences or raising the height of the barriers.
"As Daytona has (safety protocols), Palm Beach International Raceway has safety protocols in place to deal with those instances," said Stacey Federico, marketing director at Palm Beach International Raceway.
Federico said the Jupiter-based race track has catch fences and medical staff always on site. She said it is rare that fans get hurt at any raceway, but spectators are informed at Palm Beach International Raceway of the dangers of the track and have to sign a waiver when they enter.
"A motorsport is obviously is a very risky and dangerous sport to be involved in," said Federico.
Sapienza, who will make the drive back to Stuart from Daytona, said whatever NASCAR does in relation to the recent crash, the sport has not lost him as a fan.
"We always felt okay about it and I still feel okay about it," said Sepienza.
NASCAR said it will investigate the wreck fully and review any safety measures that are in place.
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