The Daytona 500 certainly didn’t turn out the way NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart had hoped. His Bass Pro Shops/Mobil One Chevrolet was involved in a crash early in the race which resulted in a 40th place finish. However, his day could have gotten much worse due to his actions while assisting in the repair of his race car. Despite being shown on television, and viewed by millions, no one seem to notice just how dangerous his actions were.
Tony Stewart is known as a racer’s racer. He will strap himself into a Sprint Car for a race at a local dirt track as quickly as he will a NASCAR Sprint Cup car. In fact, if the World of Outlaws races offered him the type of financial opportunities NASCAR does it is almost certain he would prefer their schedule of multiple races a week in multiple states to his current situation. The fans know this, and it is part of what makes him so popular.
So when the Fox Sports broadcast of the Daytona 500 showed Stewart working on his own damaged race car with a grinder, many people in the viewing audience probably thought to themselves, how cool is that, he works on his own cars. But did anyone notice just how dangerous what he was doing was?
So while his actions may have been appreciated by many race fans, they were unquestionably very unsafe. You see he was grinding on the door area of his car without the use of any protective eyewear. Yes he was certainly caught up in the moment of trying to get his number 14 back onto the track, but it was also very dangerous.
How dangerous? Well, according to information on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) website very. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 1,000eye injuries occur a day in American workplaces. This results in $300 million a year in lost production time, medical expense, and workers compensation. Three of four workers injured were not wearing eye protection. Of those, 70% of the injuries were caused by flying or falling objects or sparks striking the eyes. In fact, OSHA actually recommends the use of both goggles and a face shield for the type of work Stewart was performing.
One piece of flying metal coming off that grander could of had tragic results for the former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. An eye injury could be the worst type of injury a professional race car driver could sustain.
While it is not surprising to Tony Stewart fans to see him working on his own car, what was amazing was the fact that no one seemed to comment on it. Not the broadcasters, or any NASCAR fans on the social networks like Facebook or Twitter. How could an act which almost seemed heroic to Stewart’s fans, yet was potentially so dangerous, go unnoticed.
Thankfully, nothing happened to Stewart this time, but NASCAR, which expends many hours every week working on improving safety, may have a new issue to look at. Officials who keep a watchful eye over possible rule infractions may have to take on the added role of safety inspector of those working on the cars.
Especially if that person is one of their star drivers like Tony Stewart.