Spectacular 21-car pileup at Daytona 500

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/18/spectacular-21-car-pileup-at-d.html


Physics is a harsh mistress.


NASCAR: yes, we can screw up something as simple as ‘go fast, turn left’


It is a tribute to the rules and their enforcement that there were no serious injuries.

Of course partly because of those rules, NASCAR is like figure skating: Both activities are misnamed, because just as they don’t skate figures any more, there is nothing stock in a stock car.


New England journalists!

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Bunch of cars moving fast and way too close to one another…crash ensues.

Water is also wet.

these are our eye witness news top stories at 11.


So that’s why it is called a PIT manoeuvre.


Isn’t this the whole point of NASCAR? Kind of like the fighting in hockey?


So, wait, let me get this right… this is at the END of the race? And they are still all running nose-to-tail and neck-and-neck (the neck-and-neckedness restricted only by the width of the track it seems)? I daren’t ask how many laps the whole race takes, but, well, watching them all go round in circles in close formation for a long while does not sound like a great spectator sport. (And they say Formula1 is boring?) I guess I must be missing something.





This was on an oval, but there are road courses too.

I don’t watch on TV, but I have had the opportunity to go to a couple races and it’s a lot of fun to be there in person. The noise and speed and brute horsepower is pretty awesome.


I’ll give you a hint, this post’s title is “Spectacular 21-car pileup at Daytona 500.”

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200 broken into 3 stages of 60, 60 and 80.

Nose to tail is aggressive drafting. Since all the cars have restrictor plates limiting their top speed fuel management is very important. Also the breaks between stages are basically planned cautions that bring the pack back together. Points are awarded at each stage break which makes it less likely to have a wire to wire winner.

I’m not a big motorsport guy but I can see the appeal. It’s like velodrome cycling or short track speed skating but with a different kind of endurance.


Point well made. Silly me to assume it might have been 500 miles or 500km (that’s really stupid - it’s the imperial USA we’re talking about here).

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Nope. 500 miles, not laps.


So… NOT the 500 of the title as pointed out by @extra88

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Well, I hope that cleared all that up! :wink:

Ok, real answer.

Like any other sport, the basic premise sounds dull to watch. But if you’re into watching the strategies and tactics of play, it gets more interesting. The primary goal of most of the race for any contender is to simply not crash. There’s different ways to achieve this. There’s a strategy of forming a group of like minded racers off the back of the main pack. They just stay on a line and don’t try to pass each other, large enough for the speed benefits of a group, so they can stay near the main group and after most of the race is over, they catch on and each racer attempts to move to the front.

There’s also pit strategies, tires, fuel, the young, low budget teams trying to get on the front for tv time…

…or you can get beered up and hope for a spectacular display of physics.

*I’m not really a NASCAR fan, but have been entertained by a race on occasion.


Your apposite username leads me to believe you have some insight here. I’ll take your word for it, but surely if the drivers were pissed the accident would have happened much sooner.

The spectators, not the drivers, you say?

I can imagine the meeting (imagine a Mitchell and Webb sketch)
“We need a new sport - must take hours and allow humungous opportunities to sell and consume alcohol”
“Let’s do a processional motor event - like a parade - where they all just follow each other around for hours”
“But for hours, you’d need an awful lot of trucks with different floats to keep people’s attention”
“No - we’ll call it a race and use normal cars, just all painted a bit differently, so people have to squint to figure out who’s leading. Everyone loves the drama of a race
“And to maximise the aclohol consumption we could make them all bunch up on a track with almost no overtaking chances, until the last lap when the leader wins unless he actually gets involved in the inevitable accident behind him”
“Motor sport for pissheads, eh?”
“Exactly! It won’t matter. Nobody will be watching after the first couple of laps, until the end, by which time they’ll all be so pissed they wont care who wins”
“You know, I think it might just work!”


TIL. I’ll try to make up for my error by linking to a source.