Woody: Drivers Alive Today Because of Car of Tomorrow
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Did the Car of Tomorrow save the Star of Tomorrow?
Despite persistent criticism of the COT that was introduced into the Sprint Cup Series, there is accumulating evidence that it is meeting NASCAR’s main goal – increased driver safety.
The latest testimonial is last Sunday’s wild Dover rollover by rookie sensation Joey Logano.
Logano’s Toyota crashed, flipped and barrel-rolled seven times down the concrete track before finally shuddering to a stop on its side.
Amazingly, Logano wriggled out of the wreckage without a bump or a scratch.
“I’m fine,” said the rising young superstar. “It just goes to show how safe these cars are.”
Indeed, there have been several other horrendous-looking crashes involving the COT in which the driver(s) escaped unscathed.
Despite all the griping and grousing about some aspects of the COT, it may be saving lives. There was a time in the sport – perhaps not all that long ago – when a driver almost certainly would not have walked away from such a crash as Logano’s.
Safety was one of the three objectives stated by NASCAR when it engineered the COT. The other two were cost-cutting for teams and better competition on the track. The jury’s still out on the latter two, but I don’t think anyone can argue that NASCAR has, in fact, built a safer race car.
After he finally stopped tumbling, Logano stated the obvious: he had just taken the wildest ride of his young life.
“It started rolling and I was in there thinking, ‘Man, just make this thing stop,’” he said. “It wouldn’t. It just kept going and going. It really scared the heck out of me.”
As scary as it was inside the cockpit, continuing to tumble was the best thing that could have happened. Safety experts explain that it’s not the tumbling that’s dangerous, but rather it’s the hard, sudden stops.
As long as the car’s moving it is dissipating energy and the driver is not subjected to a hard, sudden jolt. Meanwhile inside, the driver is encased in a cocoon of steel and protective padding.
NASCAR deserves a lot of credit as it continues to work to make a dangerous sport as safe as humanly possible. From mandatory head-restraint devices to soft walls to the better-reinforced COT, NASCAR’s mantra continues to be “Safety First.”
At 19, Joey Logano has a lot of racing ahead of him, a great many years in which to pursue a career of tremendous promise.
Thanks in large measure to NASCAR’s safety innovations he’s still around to enjoy it.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments