THE DARWIN AWARDS is a prestigious award ceremony that half-jokingly, half-seriously presents an accolade of sorts to individuals who come up with interesting ways of managing to get themselves killed. One such award was presented...post-humously...to a gentleman (it's always a guy, isn't it?) that somehow managed to kill himself while playing a game of Russian Roulette with...not a revolver with only one round in the gun.
No, this gentleman and his group of highly-intelligent friends...who I suspect might have suffered from an error in interpretation in how one plays this game...these individuals began playing this manhood-affirming, America's pastime with a semi-automatic pistol.
Racing on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway ranks right up there with playing Russian Roulette with a semi-automatic handgun, simply because you are going to crash. Daytona is not a matter of if you are going to crash...where the original, game-of-chance concept of one-round-in-a-6-shot-pistol Russian Roulette applies, when the word 'if' is involved.
No, everyone that will be racing there this Saturday night has crashed at Daytona, at least once. And if they haven't crashed there yet, it is only a matter of time, simply because of the types of accidents that are created when 38 or more cars are flying around the track, full-throttle all the way around...in formation...often with three rows of a dozen cars each...at 200 mph. You are going to crash, if you haven't already...multiple times.
Accidents can typically involve over half the field, similar to what happens when you decide to jam your hand into wildly rotating machinery, it typically doesn't take just the hand off, the rest of you gets sucked in as well, as does most of the field when the 'big one' occurs (there is typically one per race).
Daytona is a good analogy for that as well.
Look here if you want to see an example...and Austin Dillon taking out a wee bit of catch fence.
The only Super Speedway (Daytona is one of two in the NASCAR track arsenal) that's more insane is Talladega Speedway in Talladega, Alabama, a track so fearsome that the driver's union (comprised of most of the top drivers of the time) refused to run on it during its inaugural running in 1969, citing lack of grip, and that there was simply too much awesomeness.
(Screams of girlish terror could be heard from the drivers during the public unveiling of the Talladega Speedway.)
Daytona itself is still a formidable foe, reminding one of the original high-banked Grand Prix speedway layout of Monza.
The original creator of Daytona, one Bill France Senior, when he had it built to be ready for the 1959 NASCAR season, Bill Sr. was thoughtful enough to add guardrails to the top of the track, that way, the crashing, burning, exploding, and other colorful adjectives related to the types of crashy stuff that occur when too many cars packed too close together are going too fast in pack formation...when one car gets even the slightest bit out of shape, a chain reaction begins, and the big one occurs, Bill France's considerate guardrails do a fair job of keeping most of the larger bits in a place after explosiony things occur, where the ambulance and hearse drivers can find them.
It really has to be seen to be believed, because this sort of formation flying...and accompanying formation crashing...is unique to the sport of NASCAR.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, winner of last year's race, seeks to win again (or at least be in front of most of the carnage when the 'big one' happens), and speeds from first practice have already eclipsed 200mph so far.
The Coke Zero Sugar Zero Taste 400 can be seen on NBC Sports this Saturday night.
(If you would like to see the actual Darwin Awards website, click here.)
(Image courtesy of RacingJunk.com)