At least thirteen cars were involved in a massive wreck in the final moments of a race at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. (The Daytona 500 will take place there on Sunday.) As driver Brad Keselowski explained to CNN, he and his opponents were “going for the win” when his car bumped into driver Regan Smith’s back bumper as they rounded a final turn on the way to the finish line. The brush caused Smith’s car to spin to the right, setting off a chain reaction that sent driver Kyle Larson’s vehicle into a fence separating the fans from the track. “It sounded like a bomb went off,” tweeted USA Today NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck. Larson somehow walked away from the crash, which sheared off the front of his car and left his engine in the fence. In fact, all of the drivers involved were basically unscathed. Some spectators were less lucky.
ESPN reports that at least seventeen people seated in the grandstands were hurt by debris flying from the wreck. A representative from nearby Halifax Medical Center said that the hospital was treating at least one adult with life-threatening head trauma, as well as a teenager in critical condition. “After watching the replay, my reaction is the same as everyone else and that’s hoping everyone in the grandstands is OK,” said Keselowski after the incident. Meanwhile, Tony Stewart, who won the race, told ESPN, “We’ve always known this is a dangerous sport, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it. As much as we want to celebrate, I’m more concerned about the fans and the drivers right now. We want to put on a good show, but not at the risk to fans. There’s no easy solution on these types of track.”
When fan-made videos of the wreck began appearing online, NASCAR ordered that several be taken down over copyright issues. (They then uploaded their own, which you can see above.) After praising the event’s on-site emergency workers for their quick response time, NASCAR president Mike Helton told ESPN that the league is currently “trying to determine what all damage is done.” From the look of things, it was quite a lot.