NASCAR announces changes to Hall of Fame eligibility

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Multiple changes have been announced this morning by NASCAR regarding drivers’ eligibility for being elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Going forward, drivers that have competed for at least 10 seasons and have turned 55 years old on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are eligible.

Additionally, drivers that have competed for at least 30 seasons (again, on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year) are now eligible regardless of age. Drivers also can continuing competing after surpassing those milestones without compromising eligibility.

These tweaks in particular will widen the pool of potential inductees as Sprint Cup legends such as Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, and Terry Labonte are now in line for induction.

Other tweaks were made in regards to naming nominees for the Hall of Fame. The nomination committee’s ballots will now select just 20 nominees each year, down from its previous mark of 25.

Also, the committee will now meet in-person to vote on those nominees; previously, the committee had submitted their choices to an independent accounting firm that tallied the nominations to create the final ballot. Hall of Fame nominees are now recused from the nominating and voting process as well.

The Hall of Fame will also create a new “Landmark Award,” which will go into effect with the Class of 2015. The award will recognize outstanding contributions to the sport and winners can range from competitors to those working in the sport in other roles (racing organization, tracks, media, sponsors, et al.).

Five nominees will be chosen for the “Landmark Award” and will then be voted on by the Hall of Fame’s voting panel.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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