More information is coming out about what exactly happened at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 5, 2012. After the race had been ended early due to the weather, lightning hit the parking lot as fans were attempting to leave. One strike killed one individual and injured nine other people. The man who was killed was Brian Zimmerman, who was married and had three children. He had been a regular at the annual race for several years. Despite friends immediately performing CPR and medics that were on scene as soon as possible, there was nothing that could be done to save the man. Of the nine other fans that were injured, only one remained in the hospital on Monday, August 6.
This was a tragedy. It is up to NASCAR to stop the race and it is up to the track to have adequate protections in place to keep the fans safe. It had been clear that there would be storms in the area that would likely be severe. Less than 30 people are killed from lightning each year, so it is understandable that it is not thought of as the biggest threat. Still, though, it is a threat. Though fans have a responsibility to watch out for themselves, to me at least, the track and NASCAR also have a responsibility to not put fans in danger. Jeff Gordon, the winner of the shortened race clearly didn't know about the lightning strike as soon as it happened. He appeared somber in his press conference and he acknowledged the tragedy.
It is easy to look back at something and say what should have been done. It is easy to say that NASCAR should have ended the race earlier. What should have been a great moment for Jeff Gordon and his fans turned into a tragedy. No race fan should die watching the sport they love. Though it is a natural tragedy that had nothing to do with normal racing, perhaps this will give NASCAR a reason to reflect on the current regulations relating to weather. I am sure that Zimmerman and his family are in many NASCAR fans' thoughts and prayers.
Kristin Watt has been a NASCAR Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup, fan for as long as she can remember starting way back when she was a little girl and her mother would sit on the couch with her every Sunday during the season to watch the races. Back then, they were fans of Bill Elliott and newcomer Davey Allison.
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