This appeared in the Sporting News in a Dave Kindred coumn. This was written amidst the hubbub durrounding Earnhardt’s death and the HANS device…


I envision a device. This device would save lives. It would be the Food, Alcohol and Tobacco Suppression device, or FATS. There are risks in eating unhealthy foods, drinking too much liquor, and smoking. So FATS would fit around the head and arms and provide resistance when someone tries to reach for a cigarette, a powdered doughnut, or an ice cold Bud. The optical recognition hardware attached to the headpiece could distinguish between a nice salad and a bacon-double-cheeseburger. It would allow its wearer to consume only that which is healthy. Yes, people enjoy those unhealthy things, but for their own good we must keep them safe.

I jest. My point is that people risk their lives in high-risk behavior. It’s up to the individual to determine how safe he wants to be and choose appropriate measures (i.e., the HANS). As for NASCAR and safety, you need look fairly at fatalities in the Formula One, CART and IRL series where they use “energy dispersion” technology to save drivers. Guess what? Combined, that philosophy has killed eight spectators or safety workers in the last three or four years. Three dead in the crowd at a Michigan CART race, three spectators dead at Charlotte in an IRL event, and two corner workers in the past five F1 events — all killed by debris flying off cars.

I will say this: NASCAR does need to take enough responsibility to put together a full-time emergency medical team that travels to each race.