By David G. Firestone
The big news in NASCAR is that Aric Almirola suffered a T5 Vertebra fracture in a crash on Saturday night. As of this writing, no announcement has been made on when he will return, or who will take over driving duties. We all wish him a speedy recovery.
This accident drives home something that a lot of people have said for many years. No safety system in sports is 100% perfect. Safety in sports is continuously changing. No piece of safety equipment is perfect. No race car is 100% safe. Something will always be missed, and someone will always be injured, hopefully not seriously.
What should happen here is that the accident and the car be thoroughly examined to figure out what went wrong, and changes made to prevent this from happening again. Obviously, this will take time, but racing safety is paramount, and drivers should be protected. It’s amazing to watch races from the late 1990’s, and see how primitive the cars, the uniforms, ad the track safety really was. Now, we take the safety culture for granted, with super safe cars and uniforms, and soft walls.
Racing safety will continue to evolve long after we are gone. No system is perfect, but all systems can get better. Aric Almirola’s accident is just another step in helping safety systems get better. But we have to accept that the danger can never be fully removed from auto racing, and the chance of death can never be removed. I hope the lessons learned can prevent future deaths in auto racing.