His car was sent spinning skyward. Two tires, an engine and a cloud of other components found their way through the safety fence, injuring 28 spectators who were sitting trackside. When all was still, Kyle Larson’s blue and white #32 Chevrolet Camaro was nearly ripped in half. This incident, which took place in the Nationwide race the day before the Daytona 500, plus NASCAR’s seemingly knee-jerk actions to try and remove user-submitted footage of the crash from YouTube, painted for many the picture of a sport woefully ignorant of the times.
The truth, however, is rather different. The V8-powered machines that circle endlessly, fruitlessly on-track are built with a flagrant disregard for, and indeed a stubborn reluctance toward, modern technology. However, the organizing body that governs those cars and will host nearly 40 events spread over 10 months this year is anything but oblivious. In many ways NASCAR is the most technologically progressive motorsport body on the planet.
Gallery: Behind the scenes at the Daytona 500
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The racing line: Exploring NASCAR’s technological dichotomy