Skip to content

Stewart’s accident needs to create safety improvements

Aug 6, 2013, 1:15 PM EST

STP Gas Booster 500 - Practice Getty Images

The hand-wringing over Tony Stewart racing sprint cars, and getting injured, is already underway.

Suddenly hundreds of armchair experts are saying something to the degree of, “Why is he racing a sprint car? Shouldn’t he be more concerned with his NASCAR commitments?”

Fact is, “Smoke” is the only person qualified to comment about what Smoke wants to do, and the only person who can give him the green light on what he chooses to do.

He exemplifies the term “racer” because he’s keen on running as many different types of cars, on so many tracks in so many cities. He’s his own boss; he races anytime, anywhere at his own risk and for his own enjoyment. He’s the closest modern day thing to his hero, A.J. Foyt, and just like Foyt, he runs the No. 14.

And if his sponsors had a problem with it, they wouldn’t be sponsoring him. Or allowing him to race in these events. Period. End of story.

The more pressing issue, and with dirt racing heavily in the national motorsports news in 2013, is what kind of safety upgrades tracks or sprint car series need to make to prevent this onslaught of serious injuries or worse this year.

Jason Leffler, one of Stewart’s friends and a high-profile name, was killed in June; an improved headrest may have saved his life.  Kramer Williamson died Sunday from injuries sustained in a crash in Pennsylvania, and Josh Burton died a couple weeks before Leffler from injuries sustained in a crash in Indiana. Per a USA Today report, there have been other deaths in Nevada (late May, two drivers) and California (two people killed after a car crashed on pit road, leaving a track).

Track themselves largely lack the SAFER barriers. Roll cages and seats can be improved. The HANS device or other head-and-neck support systems should be mandated if they aren’t already. There’s a lack of unity in the regulations across several series.

Dirt racing had its national breakout night a couple weeks ago with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ race at Eldora Speedway, a track Stewart owns, in Rossburg, Ohio. But now, the focus should shift to improving the standards at the tracks, cars and drivers, and not questioning who chooses to race there.

Follow @TonyDiZinno

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson recovering from mild stroke

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:06 PM EST

    Brandon Davis, David Pearson Brandon Davis, David Pearson

    A family release issued Wednesday through NASCAR’s communications department said Pearson suffered the stroke Dec. 9 “but is doing great and well on the road to recovery.”

  2. Brian Barnhart returns as IndyCar’s new race director

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    BarnhartGetty Getty Images

    Former IndyCar race director Brian Barnhart will return to his old role for 2015.

  3. NASCAR: Wood Bros. plan expanded 18-race Cup schedule for Ryan Blaney

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:45 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 200 Getty Images

    Six more events “tentatively” added to the Wood Brothers’ 65th anniversary season.

  4. LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s hunt for sponsorship

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

    LeBron James LeBron James

    Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark said the team set up a meeting for Wallace with Maverick Carter, the agent who oversees much of James’ business empire.

  5. Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for 26 races for Hornish

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:12 PM EST

    Sam Hornish Jr Sam Hornish Jr

    Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for 26 races for Sam Hornish Jr.’s team this season.

  6. F1: Red Bull’s Horner confident that RB11 will be ready for Jerez test (VIDEO)

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:02 PM EST

    Christian Horner AP

    Horner also speaks with NBCSN’s Will Buxton about efforts from the team’s engine manufacturer, Renault, to ensure a much smoother start to 2015.

  7. F1: Force India will skip first preseason test in Jerez

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST

    Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg AP

    Force India opts to concentrate on getting its new 2015 car ready for the second preseason test at Barcelona.

  8. Hornish fitting in quite well with Richard Petty Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 PM EST

    hornish AP

    Sam Hornish is fitting in quite nicely in his new role with Richard Petty Motorsports.

  9. After 2014 Chase berth, Aric Almirola expects “breakout year” for Richard Petty Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:56 AM EST

    Oral-B USA 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Last year’s July winner at Daytona thinks RPM’s momentum will continue to grow in 2015.

  10. Sponsorship woes leave Jeb Burton scrambling again for a NASCAR ride

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:46 AM EST

    Fred's 250 - Practice Fred's 250 - Practice

    A deal to return to a ThorSport Toyota has fallen through for the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton.

  11. NASCAR: Ross Chastain moving up to XFINITY Series with JD Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:27 AM EST

    NextEra Energy Resources 250 - Practice Getty Images

    Chastain will have support from the National Watermelon Association on his No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro.

  12. Roush Fenway Racing continues to look for sponsorship for Wallace

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EST

    Bubba Wallace Bubba Wallace

    Roush Fenway Racing continues to look for sponsorship for Darrell Wallace Jr., but Wallace says he plans to run the full XFINITY season.

  13. Roush Fenway Racing looks for big rebound in 2015

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EST

    jack roush 2015 AP

    Although there were a number of changes at Roush Fenway Racing, team co-owner Jack Roush believes things are on the right track for a big collective comeback from RFR in 2015.

  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. channels Marshawn Lynch: ‘I’m just here so I won’t get fined’

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    Stenhouse Phoenix 2 2014 Getty Images

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to channel his inner Marshawn Lynch during Roush Fenway Racing’s segment of the NASCAR Media Tour on Wednesday.

  15. Tony Stewart buys All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EST

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Stewart takes control of one of the country’s oldest sprint car leagues.

  16. NASCAR: Outcry causes GoDaddy to pull Super Bowl ad featuring Danica Patrick, puppy

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:41 PM EST

    Aaron's 312 Getty Images

    Negative backlash following ad’s premiere on Tuesday’s “Today” show leads to GoDaddy pulling it from Sunday’s big game.

  17. Indy Lights: Ed Jones leads Day 2 of Homestead road course test

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:55 PM EST

    Credit: IndyLights.com Credit: IndyLights.com

    The Lights contingent finish their two-day session on the Homestead road course before heading to the oval on Thursday.

  18. Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick: “I’m as comfortable as I’ve ever been”

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:12 PM EST

    (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Getty Images

    Following a dramatic Sprint Cup title victory in 2014, Harvick enters 2015 with less pressure – but not less motivated to continue his success.

  19. Gene Haas updates F1 team’s progress at NASCAR media tour

    Jan 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EST

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    Gene Haas provides an update on his F1 team’s progress during NASCAR Media Tour.

Video from NASCAR America

Why 2015 is a big year for Danica
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (2256)
  2. J. Clements (1732)
  3. K. Schrader (1724)
  4. K. Grala (1608)
  5. M. Lira (1525)