Richard Petty: RTA wants to “make NASCAR bigger and better”

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Another key member of the Race Team Alliance has said that their nine-team consortium is not out to pick a fight with NASCAR.

In Indianapolis, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty insisted that any perception of the RTA having grand plans to take over the sport is false.

The two-car Richard Petty Motorsports team is part of the RTA, which officially formed earlier this month.

“Our main deal is not to run NASCAR,” Petty said to reporters Friday at IMS. “Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don’t, then we’re out of business.”

The RTA has maintained a stance of wanting to create a consensus voice that can relay concerns to the sanctioning body and work on cost-cutting in multiple areas such as team travel, insurance, and parts.

Petty stayed on that track in his comments at IMS, likening the situation to a farmer’s co-op.

“So far, that’s my main objective,” he said. “Can I save on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can I save [on] some stuff that we’re doing for the race car. Can we save time at the racetrack, stuff like that that we’ll keep from having to overpay with what we’re doing right now.”

However, NASCAR CEO Brian France recently said that he didn’t think the RTA’s formation was necessary and that the sanctioning body would be “dealing with all of the team owners – not most of them, not the big ones, but all of them.”

As you’d figure, Petty disagrees with France’s sentiments.

“It’s really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We belong to an organization…And NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization.

“We see them do a lot of that, but they’re not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants.”

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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