On lap 2 of the ARCA race at Pocono last weekend Buster Graham got down on the grass, hit a bump and leaped over the 3-tiered guardrail, landed on all four wheels on the other side of the guardrail and slid to a stop. Fortunately for him his car did just that and he was able to walk away from the wreck with a very cool story because if his car would have hit that guardrail we could be looking at a very different outcome.
The grass that Graham was sliding on was very wet and did not offer any friction for the car’s tires so that the car could slow down, in fact the announcers said the car appeared to speed up once it was on the grass. If this were the case then Graham would have lost no speed before hitting the guardrail. The guardrail itself is flexible by its very nature, and certainly a little more forgiving than a concrete wall, but the way it is constructed also allows the car to get caught up in it too creating more shearing forces upon impact and add to the fact that directly behind the guardrail is solid earth allowing the car to dig in if is should break through the guardrail and you have the makings of a significant crash if Graham were to have hit the wall instead of ‘jumping’ it.
Certainly SAFER Barrier would not have stopped Graham’s car from going air born nor would it have helped him if he had landed on top of it, but it most definitely would have helped him if he were to have hit it dead on and not have have gone air born.
In this new-world of a safety conscious NASCAR I hope that those in charge take a serious look at what could have been instead of what was and make the proper decision and put SAFER Barrier on every square inch of every wall encircling every track that NASCAR races at before someone really gets hurt.