Daytona, Talladega to reinforce crossover gates
Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will install steel cables in the crossover gate area and add additional tethering between the gate frame and posts after an investigation of the Feb. 23 crash that injured more than 30 fans at Daytona.
The crossover gate is a removable area of fencing used so fans and officials can go from the grandstands to the track infield before and after an event. When Kyle Larson’s car hit the Daytona catch fence on the final lap of the Nationwide Series race, the crossover gate buckled and an entire wheel with tire and suspension attached went through the fencing. Daytona employed the engineering firm of HNTB to recommend changes for the fencing and has now added Walter P Moore to do a peer review.
Some of the steel cables in the fencing did not extend across the gate area, but now there will be continuity, which should increase strength, DIS President Joie Chitwood said. HNTB’s analysis indicated that the rest of the fencing worked and that the tracks could still have crossover gates rather than eliminating them.
"Crossover gates have been something in our sport for a long time," Chitwood said. "They serve a purpose both for fans and industry personnel. … We felt very good with the design and the recommendation to improve the crossover gates but keep the gates at this time."
Chitwood said he did not know the role the crossover gate played in shearing the front of Larson’s car. His engine came to rest on the grandstand side next to the fence, and the front of his car disintegrated, with fans describing it as a shower of debris.
NASCAR still has the Turner Scott Motorsports car. There have been no changes in the structure of the Nationwide cars because of the accident, and NASCAR Senior Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnell said NASCAR is satisfied with what it has seen as far as the team’s car construction.
He added that there would be no immediate changes to the tethering systems used to keep wheels from coming unattached from the cars.
O’Donnell said NASCAR is considering new fencing requirements for other tracks but wanted to concentrate on the superspeedways first. Sporting News