The Hidden Dangers of Racing

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IMay 24, 2010

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 25: Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #12 Penske Dodge, spin out of control after being involved in a multi car incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

It is common sense that driving race cars at over one 180 miles per hour is dangerous. 

In every race there is at least one wreck, and the drivers get into their car knowing full well that their next accident may be the one that takes their life.  However, it is the hidden dangers inside the car that may be the ones to end their careers.

Brad Keselowski was one of those that experienced a hidden danger.  At Talladega in April, damaged crush panels on his Cup car exposed him to carbon monoxide.  When he climbed out of the car between the Cup and Nationwide race, it was discovered that his carbon monoxide levels were bordering on dangerous and just below the NASCAR limit. 

Keselowski underwent intense treatment in the in-field care center between the races to bring the levels down.  He made it into his Nationwide car only minutes before the engines started and went on to win the race, despite his earlier illness. 

Fumes from the cars can be extremely dangerous to drivers.  In a normal car, we have top of the line ventilation systems to keep us safe.  Drivers only can do so much to keep the fumes away for the four to six hours they are in the car during a race.  They cannot pull over and air out the car or change something to make it easier to breathe, unless they want to forfeit the chance to win.

Another danger is blood clots.  While Brian Vickers condition is not blamed solely on driving, it has been said that they are not ruling it out as a partial cause.  Sitting down for hours at a time with limited movement can cause blood clots to form and travel throughout the body. 

This is something seen in truck drivers, and other people that stay seated during travel with limited body movement, which can describe a racer’s typical weekend. 

A driver spends tremendous amounts of time in a race car.  They can race in all three series’ during a weekend while also going through practice and qualifying.  During the week, they can spend days testing in cars.  When not in a car, they are flying to appearances or tracks, which can also cause the blood clots to form if they are going long distances without getting a chance to move.

Racing has always been a dangerous sport where something can go wrong at any second with no warning.  The race cars have improved a lot during the current era and the drivers are much safer during accidents. 

Even when rolling over or sliding upside down, drivers escape with very few serious injuries.  But it’s the hidden dangers that may take their toll on drivers without them even realizing it. 

If a driver wanted to stay completely safe, he wouldn’t even leave his bed or the house in the morning.  But thankfully for all fans, we can find our favorite driver buckled in the seat of his race car every weekend ready to risk life and limb to keep us entertained.