Racecar experts broke down what happened in Ryan Newman's crash at the Daytona 500 in a new report this week. Tennessee ABC News affiliate News Channel 9 gathered analyses from photographers on the scene, automotive specialists and medical personnel to better understand the crash. The results were informative even for seasoned NASCAR viewers.
Newman's car spun out of control on the final lap of the Daytona 500, with him in the lead. He rolled once, then flipped in the air after he was hit by another oncoming car. The sight was terrifying for viewers, and Newman's fate was uncertain for over 24 hours afterwards.
"We were literally preparing for the same thing that was announced on the day Dale Earnhardt died," said Ooltewah photography Christian Koelle, who was on the scene. Koelle works for Frontstretch.com, and captured a photo of his car in midair.
Many others thought that Newman might had passed away in the crash, though he was able to walk out of the hospital two days later. An expert from Boyd's Speedway in Ringgold, Kenny Slayton, guessed that Newman was travelling at close to 200 miles per hour. He explained the equipment that kept Newman alive.
"Your average street cars not going to have row bars in the doors, row bars in the top, row bars in the bottom," he noted.
The row bars create a sturdy steel frame just around the driver themselves, which can often survive the damage that may destroy the rest of the vehicle. Slayton showed a stripped down racecar with the frame exposed to the news station.
Kenny Slayton says this steel frame found in race cars is what likely saved Newman's life. Row bars like these not found in a traditional car you'd see pulling into your neighborhood pic.twitter.com/i4WDWutjks— Sam Luther (@SamLutherNC9) February 21, 2020
Newman's car also reportedly had a full containment seat — another safety feature that is generally reserved for racecars.
Safety features like these were brought to the public eye last fall as well, when comedian Kevin Hart was in serious crash in his own vintage muscle car. At the time, TMZ reported that his 1970 Plymouth Parracuda was missing a roll cage and a five-point harness — features that are generally installed with such a powerful engine, and that could have helped protect Hart and his passengers in the crash.0comments
In Newman's case, he and his colleagues have been more light-hearted about the crash since it is a hazard of the sport. On Friday, other drivers even poked fun at Newman as they returned to the track.
Newman is not returning to racecar driving with his teammates and rivals this weekend. There is no clear timetable for his recovery just yet.