In tragedy the NASCAR Nation comes together

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Medical personnel remove an injured fan from the stands following an incident at the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Medical personnel remove an injured fan from the stands following an incident at the finish of  the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Medical personnel remove an injured fan from the stands following an incident at the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

It wasn’t supposed to end that way. Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, what was an exciting start to the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series turned horribly tragic in what seemed like an instant.

As the field rocketed towards the finish line, cars began crashing. One, driven by Kyle Larson, rose up off the track into the fence at nearly 200 miles per hour and exploded.  I was directly across from the point of impact and after the roar of the machines died down, screams could be heard along with shouting. The remains of Larson’s car came to rest; as soon as I saw that the front of the car was gone, I scanned around the infield. Not seeing the engine or other remains from the car the realization struck; the entire front of the car was now somewhere in the grandstands. I felt a chill; this story would not have a happy ending.

Drivers began exiting their mangled machines, including Larson. Meanwhile other emergency workers were racing to the scene of the impact with the fence. Sirens could now be heard from the far side of the grandstand.  At that point no one knew the number of extent of injuries, but let there be no doubt that those who need to respond to such things were there very quickly. I witnessed people leaving the stands on stretchers, ‘packaged’ as we used to call it when I was a medic in the military; neck braced and on backboards, usually not a good sign. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.