In light of the tragedy Saturday night that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr., and changed the life of NASCAR star Tony Stewart, I wanted to share some pictures and video to better illustrate some of the specific challenges drivers face inside (and out) the car.
The wing (or airfoil) comes down low on Tony Stewart's cars, not only in the front but along the right side (this is the same on all wing sprint cars). Having driven these cars as well, I know there is a huge blind spot on the right front corner from the wing. It's hard enough to see what is directly in front of you through this narrow opening and nearly impossible to see what is ahead and to the drivers right.
From inside the cockpit there is anything but a full field of vision. This is not meant to make any excuses, merely point out that it is not obvious to me that Tony Stewart (or any of the other drivers) would have seen Ward as he walked down the track right into their blind spot.
The reality is that if Ward stays in his car, none of this happens. Heck, if he even waits a bit longer for the cars to slow down I think it could have been avoided. This is not the first time a driver, official, crew member or safety work has been struck at a race track, but it certainly is the highest profile accident and I hope we can learn from it.
I make a conscious effort to NOT get out of my car while others are still circling the track, mainly because I have always been concerned that another race car might hit my stalled car. I assure you I was very upset after being in a wreck in May but have seen enough tragedy to know I am safest inside the car and never get out until everyone is stopped or at a safe speed. I wish Ward had done the same.