If it weren’t for the catch fences during the Drive4COPD 300 this weekend it’s likely a number of NASCAR fans could have been killed. On the last lap of the race 12 cars were caught in an accident that sent Kyle Larson’s car air-born and careening hood-first towards the grandstands.
The impact with the fence sheared off the entire front end of Larson’s car. The engine and a front tire came to rest just below the first row of spectator seating inside the grandstands. The other tire was ejected into the crowd along with a rain of jagged debris.
At least twenty-eight spectators were injured in the wreck. Two taken to the Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach arrived in critical condition, one with life threatening injuries. Both were said to be in stable condition.
The wreck has dark undertones of the most horrific wreck in motorsports history. During the 1955 24 Hours of Lemans severed debris from an air-born car flew into the stands killing 83 spectators and injuring another 120. Catch fences at this month’s race in Daytona may have been the only thing preventing a similar tragedy from occurring.
Repairs were made to the damaged Daytona track in time for the Daytona 500 the following day. Spectators packed the stands as usual, minus Eddie Huckaby, 53, who suffered a leg gash from a piece of metal. From CNN:
"He's doing fine," Terry Huckaby said of his brother. "The first thing he said, 'I don't want to miss that (Daytona 500) race, but I have to watch on TV.'"