Pocono Raceway is derided as having some of the most boring racing on the NASCAR circuit. But despite that, or perhaps because of it, the track has seen a fascinating collection of wildlife and humanity actually get onto the track, which is every bit as dangerous as you'd think.
First, the chicken. If you do nothing else today, take a few minutes to kick back and watch this video, from the 1991 Champion Spark Plug 500 at Pocono:
The "debris," initially identified as a turkey, turned out to be a chicken. NASCAR.com has the story in more detail:
NASCAR officials were forced to throw a caution flag on Lap 19, as at least a dozen members of the safety crew were sent to catch the poultry in motion. [Nice! -JB] That proved to be easier said than done, as the chicken had other ideas. Approaching from both sides, workers finally were able to trap the bird up against the outside concrete wall. One brave soul grabbed the chicken and handed it over the wall into the waiting arms of someone who either took it to safety or had it for dinner.
The race afterward ended up being pretty satisfying as well, as names like Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Harry Gant and Jimmy Spencer all took shots at the lead. In the end, it was Dale Earnhardt's to lose, and lose he did, as his car betrayed him and allowed Darrell Waltrip to sneak in for the win.
Two years later it got worse, as a fan actually got onto the race track. As you'd expect from someone challenging cars going 160 mph, the fan was inebriated, and later was revealed to have been drinking since 3 a.m. the morning before. The fan scaled a six-foot-high infield wall in the straightaway and raced across the track, diving over the outer wall just before Kyle Petty and Davey Allison blew past him.
"I don't know how much we missed him, but it wasn't by much," said Petty, who would go on to win the race. "I wouldn't have wanted to be that close to a passing car running 55 (mph), much less 160."
Oh, but it got even better. Law enforcement chased the guy into a swamp and found him three hours later, arresting him and charging him with two felonies and three misdemeanors. He went to prison, of course, and to this day apparently remains the only person stupid enough to go onto a NASCAR track while a race was underway.
And there's more. In practice, Neil Bonnett once hit a deer so hard that he ended up with one of the deer's legs embedded in his front grille. (The deer did not survive the collision.) And a NASCAR official manning a booth in one of the track's distant turns once reported a black bear trying to get into the booth with him.
So there you go. Pocono may not have the most thrilling action car-to-car, but there's plenty of wildlife to watch for outside the walls.
- Pocono Raceway