Flagler College student looks back on Daytona NASCAR wreck

By Jaycob Ammerman | gargoyle@flagler.edu
Photo by Cristina Coco

Daytona raceJust over a month has gone by since Flagler College junior Cristina Coca witnessed a near NASCAR tragedy on the final lap of the Nationwide Race at the Daytona International Speedway.

Coca knew the NASCAR race she was attending was dangerous, but she never expected that a wreck would spill over in the crowd and injure over two dozen fans.

The 12-car crash injured at least 28 people, including several drivers.

Coca was hit with an exhaust holder bolt that flew off of one of the cars in the wreck.

“Everything was in slow motion,” she said. “I did not know how to react. I honestly froze as dust and debris showered us.”

Since the race, some fans are trying to sue NASCAR for injuries that they sustained.

“Cars are going close to 200 mph within inches from each other. Fans know the risk, but the thing is no one expects something like that to happen … but we are all aware that something could happen, freak accident or not,” she said.

The average NASCAR fan understands the assumption of risk of a wreck spilling over in the crowd, but to be safe NASCAR has a waiver on the back of every ticket sold to each race.

The disclaimer on the ticket says: “The holder of this ticket expressly assumes all risk incident to the event, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to the actual event, and agrees that all participants, sanctioning bodies, and all employees, agents, officers, and directors of Daytona International Speedway, its affiliates and subsidiaries, are hereby released from any and all claims arising from the event, including claims of negligence.”

According to SEC filings, NASCAR has required tracks to have $50 million in insurance to cover spectator injuries, money that would be used to cover lawsuits against it.

Before even going to the event, Coca was aware of the disclaimer on the back of her ticket.

“I mean NASCAR did all they could do in my opinion, coming from someone who was in the middle of it. Yes, in a way they should be liable, and I think they are taking care of it. But as a fan you are aware of the risk,” Coca said.

Although this was Coca’s first race, she vows that it will not be her last.

“I’ll go again. You have the same risk at a hockey game if a puck comes over the glass. All sports have their risks,” she said.

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