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No walls in auto racing

Instead of slamming into walls, cars would slide into a giant empty area underneath the stands.
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There's been a big debate in NASCAR about making the walls softer to prevent the deaths of drivers like Dale Earnhardt. There are even walls out their ready to use, but the cost and time involved in cleaning up such a wall if a car hit it has made the ideas just that. Well, what if there were no walls? What if the stands were elevated say 10-15 feet above the track and the area between the track and the bottom of the stands was empty? Instead of hitting a wall, the car would slide into this empty area underneath the stands and slowly come to a stop. This would not only save the driver but allow him to continue in the race. It would require giant, unimaginable revsions to current tracks, but perhaps it could be done with any new tracks that are built.
dredcat7, Mar 02 2001

People WANT crashes http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Flamarama
[mrthingy, Mar 02 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

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       And what would be holding the stands up midair- Unicorns, smurfs - (both patents held by AfroAssault)? Otherwise, there'll be hundreds of maimed or dead spectators.
thumbwax, Mar 02 2001
  

       Sturdy pillars, set back sufficiently far that the cars have plenty of room to stop before hitting them?   

       What length of sand is necessary to stop an out-of-control race car, anyway? Are we talking about 100 feet or 1,000? (I don't know diddly about auto racing.)   

       AfroAssault isn't going to license his patents for any application that *prevents* explosions...
egnor, Mar 02 2001, last modified Mar 03 2001
  

       The walls are essential to stock car racing. They provide the incentive NOT to try and squeeze into a corner 4- or 5-wide. If they were removed, it would be easy to slip around a driver on the outside. Plus, on most Winston Cup tracks, the outside lane is the faster, so drivers would just end up pushing the limits of the track again -- they'd drive as close to the support beam (or smurfs, or unicorns) without hitting them.   

       Plus, the two main superspeedways, Daytona and Talledaga, have 18 degrees banking in the tri-oval. You can't just extend the track *under* the stands. If anything, the danger would increase. What if an under-the-stands crash resulted in a fire?   

       On the superspeedway tracks, the mega-crash phenomenon (such as Tony Stewart's at the Daytona 500) can't be solved simply by the HANS device.   

       What NASCAR should be mandating (if they want better safety) is smaller restrictor plate holes, and get rid of the roof air dam. A HANS device on these tracks is like wearing a kevlar vest against a cruise missile.
Wes, Mar 02 2001
  

       If the space outside of the "real" track were covered with sand, I suspect drivers would work hard to avoid it. Or, if you wanted to get all high-tech and half-baked about it, use some sort of automatic device that kills the engine if you leave the paved portion.
egnor, Mar 03 2001
  

       I don't know much about racing, but I do know a bit about the tech of it. The rubber in the tires they use is extremely soft, even more so when it's warmed up. An area of fairly deep sand would provide a good way to stop without hurting the car much, but probably completely ruin the tires, thus necessitating their replacement. The time required to do this would probably make the drivers work really hard to stay out of the sand, but when it was safe, they could drive to the infield and back to the pits.
StarChaser, Mar 03 2001
  

       the answer has been found!   

       hasn't fomula one used sand for years
edski, Mar 03 2001
  

       Here's where we (NASCAR fans) get the popularity from: the ability to see a racing at it's best. At the superspeedway tracks, the cars are packed nose to bumper and door to door. You won't find any other racing where the entire 43 car field is separated by just 2 seconds on some laps. Lead changes are another issue. Whenever I see an F1 race, the leader can be determined by flip of the coin: heads, Schumacher; tails,.... Schumacher. The aerodynamic set-up of the cars on Daytona and Talledaga allow for 50+ lead changes in some races.   

       [Yes, rant, I know.]
Wes, Mar 04 2001
  

       Like I said, I know little about racing...but 'Car goes round, car goes round, car goes round...' has always seemed boring to me. At least occasionally they have accidents to liven it up...
StarChaser, Mar 04 2001
  

       Why don't we just build simple wall-less tracks up really high up in the air over a desert or body of water, F-Zero style? When a car goes over, the driver exits via ejector seat, and the car floats down safely with it's own set of automated chutes and landing airbags.   

       A simple solution. Now, I must be going back to the future.
mrkillboy, Mar 05 2001
  

       Accomodation would be a problem for interior seats for the raceway: most venues have several other tracks in the infield, not to mention room for the garages, haulers, RV's of spectators.   

       Speaking of crazy ideas and changes in NASCAR, mine doesn't involve any technology - just demographics:   

       The day hell freezes over is the day a non-white, gay driver drives a Japanese model in a Winston Cup race. (I have nothing against non-whites, GLBT's, or imports -- just being a realist).
Wes, Mar 05 2001
  

       What about just increasing the banking of the track towards the outide edge until the edge of the track is perpendicular to the ground? Then, as you got closer to the edge of the track is would become progressively harder to get even closer to the edge.
hippo, Mar 05 2001
  

       UnaBubba; it's not even the shape of the car. It's the stickers they put on it, the phony headlights and other crap. They're all the same, otherwise...
StarChaser, Mar 07 2001
  

       Moat. Encircle the wall-less track with a moat. Alligators de riguer.
thumbwax, Mar 08 2001
  

       Fill the moat with liquid nitrogen (or liquid helium). Cars that go over will be instantly frozen. They can be thawed out thousands or millions of years in the future, when a cure is found for freezing to death.
wiml, Mar 08 2001
  

       I'm with UnaBubba on the attraction of watching people drive round & round in circles. If they tried NASCAR in the UK the competitors would be able to drive into the giant, empty area *in* the stands. But pointing out the pointlessness of the sport doesn't really address dredcat7's point (hah!).
Rather than change the track, change the cars. If they built the vehicles out of that rubber stuff that's used for superballs then crashing into the outside wall would become even more entertaining than it is now.
DrBob, Mar 09 2001
  

       I'm not sure if rubber cars are going to help. The way the cars are set up now *is* pretty safe. The driver is covered in a roll cage, but the front and back of the cars crumple nicely upon impact. This allows for greater energy absorption. Thus, getting into a crash and seeing your whole front end smush up can be a good thing. It means the car absorbed the energy, not you. Years ago, when "stronger cars" were better, this caused a lot of problems for drivers. The steel was built of higher gauge, and the designers thought that and indestructible car would protect the driver. Wrong. Cars would bounce of the walls. No energy absorbed by the car, and the decellerations experienced by the drivers were huge. A rubber car would only increase this problem.   

       Now, on to shortening the races. I see no real problem with the length, but yes, some will contest that races do take quite a long time. If you're interested in seeing more races that are discrete heats rather than one race, I suggest watching "The Winston" on May 19th on FX. It's broken down into 3 separate heats, with select few from the first two going on to the last. The best drivers get byes to the last round. Each race is 30-50 laps, so about half an hour or so. For a first-time NASCAR viewer, it's pretty exciting (ok, no snickering! I can hear you!).   

       As I seem to be the only NASCAR fan in the Halfbakery, I figure I'll be fighting an uphill battle here.
Wes, Mar 09 2001
  

       have the cars on a bungie cord ,affixed to the center of the track.
technobadger, Mar 09 2001
  

       What was that kids game, where someone with a rope spun around in the middle and everyone on the perimeter had to jump it?   

       The pit crews should have to do this.
Wes, Mar 09 2001
  

       Wes, the point of the superball stuff was that it absorbed the energy from any impact and turned it into motion in another direction, whereas the 'tough' cars just passed all the energy straight on to the driver. I've got to admit though that I've got no idea how efficiently it did this. After all I'm an accountant and sometime programmer, I haven't got a clue about the rules that govern reality.
DrBob, Mar 09 2001
  

       boy! if all the cars had such superball material bumpers, and the inside of the outer wall and the bumpers themselves were sufficiently greased, racing would really see some action! The guys would be fighting to stay *slow* and *on course*... oh, wait. I guess that, minus the rubber, this is quite baked in the form of a "demolition derby" (or, for you elites, an "enduro")
absterge, Mar 09 2001
  

       do you remember 'wall of death 'in a fairground? have sloping walls then.   

       or hold up the stands with magnets
technobadger, Mar 09 2001
  

       give the driver a "super-duper ejection button" that launches him really, really high. He is equipped with a parachute and a box of staples. He can now float down to safety AND watch his car blow up.
AfroAssault, Apr 24 2001
  

       The sand trap idea WAS a good one. Now cars are going so fast they skip over the traps quite often. F1 is looking into another solution. As far as extending the track under the stands the run off would have to be enormous. I have seen cars, at an airport track, slide several hundred feet. Also imagine a braking problem. Now how far will they roll? The Hans device alone will not solve all of the problems but they do help. The only solution is to slow the cars down. Restrictor plate racing is a bit less exciting so how about smaller tires. Or maybe limit displacement. Or even go back to gas. All of these ideas will slow the cars down while allowing passing. The most important point is: ANY racing that brings in fans is good for ALL racing. So F1 should embrace NASCAR and vice-versa. :)
Racer X, Jul 16 2001
  

       If you take away the walls at a super speedway like Daytona or Talladega, the cars would simply "fly" over the sand if they happen to leave the track at any one of the corners (which they mostly do).Because of the steep angles in the corners. The answer is to rebuild the walls so they move backwards on impact, maybe mounted on tracks with shock absorbers behind them, they wouldn't need to move very far, only two or three feet and they would be tied together to avoid having an uneven surface pop up and tear a car in half. After the impact they would slowly move back into position during the caution lap, by the time the green flag would wave again the walls would be back into position .   

       P.S. By the way Wes you're not the only NASCAR fan here......:)
mike100, Feb 04 2002
  

       What about either having an inner fence which is made of some breakaway material, or a very shallow 'moat' filled with paint, with the rule being that any car that hits the fence or the moat is required to make an extra lap? Such a boundary could be placed a few feet inside the wall so as to allow drivers to recover if they go out of bounds.
supercat, Feb 05 2002
  

       DrBob: The fundamental problem in a collision is that the driver who is traveling along at 200mph needs to have his velocity substantially reduced in a very short distance. The amount of pain involved will be a function of the distance (longer is better) and the change in velocity (less is better).   

       If a vehicle hits a wall with a glancing blow, the change in velocity may be fairly slight, but if it hits the wall at a right angle, the driver's velocity will change by at least 200mph. An elastic collision would make things worse for the driver, since he'd not only suffer the force required to stop him, but also the force required to accellerate him in the other direction.   

       I read recently of a collision between a 1960's era pickup truck and a more recent compact car. The car was totalled but the people were minimally injured. Thanks to its elastic bumpers, the truck was not substantially damaged, but the driver was killed.   

       Contrary to what you might think, elasticity in a car crash is very bad.
supercat, Feb 05 2002
  

       Why not drop the whole NASCAR idea and just rallye... then you don't have to deal with walls (unless you're racing Corsica) and the people don't have to be in stands.
racergirl, Jun 13 2002
  

       The answer here is quite simple. Put the stands on the inside of the track, remove the outside walls, but make it completely impossible to drive outside of the regular track area without losing control.
RayfordSteele, Jun 13 2002
  

       It seems the most dangerous thing about auto racing is that cars tend to hit the wall a high speed, or hit each other because they can’t get out of the way, because there is a wall there. What if we built an Indianapolis-type oval race track that had all the spectators on the inside and a smooth dish on the outside instead of a wall? The banked track would be set down in the ground like a quarry, so the outside of the track would be just level ground. Or better yet, there would be a smooth, curved transition from the outer edge of the track to the flat land beyond. If a car goes too fast and loses it, it just slides up and out of the dish, out of the race. This is much better then hitting the wall and coming to a dead stop facing a pack of 200 mph traffic.   

       Spectator stands would be on the inside. Fans would come and go underground. The whole center structure would be built on top of the pit area. Fans could walk downstairs and watch pit operations through windows.   

       At the ends of the oval track, the inside wall would also be curved to allow out of control cars bank off the inside, rather then hit a flat inside wall. The center section would be for pits. Cars would enter on one side of the straightaway and leave the other, crossing the infield under the stands. This would give the pits much more room and would increase the safety of pit operations.
PSU_ME, Feb 21 2006
  

       If spectator stands are on the inside, most spectators are going to have a rather limited view of the track, are they not?
supercat, Feb 22 2006
  

       Fill the space under the stands with Marshmallows and then the cars would stop quickly in a big yummy puff of sugary goodness ;-)
jhomrighaus, Feb 23 2006
  
      
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