Once again, Dale Jr. proves rather chatty as a talking race car (VIDEO)

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Before winning yesterday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he’d brought on personal sponsor Goody’s Headache Powder as a new backer for his JR Motorsports outpost in the NASCAR (soon-to-be) XFINITY Series from 2015-2017.

As part of the new three-year deal, which will see Goody’s take over his No. 88 Chevrolet for one XFINITY race annually, a new commercial has dropped that involves the citizens of Davidson, North Carolina finding said car in the town center – and getting a surprise when the car starts “speaking” in Earnhardt’s southern tones.

“Hey, don’t sneak up on me like that!,” he says to a woman that leans inside the cockpit.

An astonished young boy declares that the car is his new friend, to which it replies, “That’s right! We’ve become fast buddies.”

Then there’s another lady that passes by with her dog, to which the car tells her to “just keep him away from my tires please.”

Eventually, the townspeople catch on and Earnhardt – the human version – comes out of the sound booth where he’s been giving voice to the car and greets them.

Now, if you have youngsters at home that love Disney and Pixar’s Cars franchise, then you’ll know this isn’t the first time Earnhardt’s played a talking car.

In the original film, Earnhardt voiced “Junior,” a cameo character whose look was based off of his longtime Budweiser No. 8 paint scheme from his days of driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. – albeit with DEI marks replacing the Budweiser signage.

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

James Black/IndyCar
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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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