NASCAR To Finally Employ Full-Time Safety Team

Jul 5, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA;
Crews and safety officials respond to the car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (3) following a crash during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that is long overdue and which has been in requested for years, NASCAR announced the formation of a full-time safety team for 2017.

When you were a kid and got hurt, your mom or dad was always there to tell you that things would be OK.  Doing so helped you.  You felt better, you calmed down more easily and you got back to your activities confidently. You were relieved because you felt that someone you knew was in your corner helping you.

Fast-forward to 2017.  NASCAR, while not substituting trauma doctors for moms and dads, has taken the next best step.  They have partnered with American Medical Response (AMR) to have an additional doctor and paramedic at each track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup circuit.

According to Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer:

“This partnership further strengthens NASCAR’s medical response capability, making our well-established, medical response system even better.  AMR is a leader in the emergency services sector, and its doctors and paramedics add another layer of expertise to the immediate response team.”


The doctor and paramedic will ride in a safety vehicle.  This vehicle will be the first to arrive at an on-track incident, and will assess the situation.  They will be accompanied by two NASCAR track services personnel who can then coordinate with local physicians at the on-site medical center. These local physicians can then coordinate any additional care with local hospitals, with whom they’re already familiar.


At least one prominent driver, Joey Logano, welcomed the move.  Logano has also been on the driver’s council since its inception in 2015.  The council has long-supported such an endeavor.

“We’re not saying hello to someone that we’ve never met before in a very vulnerable stage or a risky time,” the Team Penske driver said. “It’s a fairly safe sport, but we’ve all seen things go wrong pretty quick. NASCAR has done a good job with having the (liaisons) and being able to build a relationship with them, and you know that when you’re there it’s a familiar face.”

Benefits To Drivers

This effort will provide three distinct advantages:

  1. Familiarity.  Drivers will see a familiar face assisting them after an incident.  In turn, the team of physicians will be familiar with the drivers also.
  2. Knowledge.  Physicians will have access to drivers’ complete medical histories.  Physicians will also familiarize themselves with each driver’s demeanor, and will have specialized training for racing-related injuries.
  3. Consistency.  The team of physicians will report to a National Medical Director.  These physicians will be using consistent protocols and providing specific care for racing incidents. Drivers benefit from additional peace-of-mind knowing that safety team members have such training.

Nobody in the industry has had a negative response to this addition for 2017.  I guess this is one instance where “repeal and replace” has widespread support and will benefit everyone.

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