Daytona 500 and Social Media

So because of Mother Nature- the Daytona 500 was run on Monday instead of Sunday. Sadly that meant that I couldn’t watch a majority of it because I had to work. So I followed along when I could on social media and Misty updated me occasionally over text. I got home during the red flag before the last two overtimes.

So yes I did get to see that wreck. The one that turned my stomach- especially after watching the replay and realizing that Corey LaJoie hit an upside down Ryan Newman pretty much square in the drivers window/door when Newman’s airborne car came down directly in front of him. The gravity of the situation only compounded by a subdue victory lane and a very solemn Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon. NASCAR Nation commenced in holding their collective breathe for the most part waiting for news on Ryan Newman’s condition.

I am just like you probably. I sat there refreshing twitter every several seconds hoping to see something about his condition. I stalked twitter feeds of media personas that I knew were at the track hoping to get an update. If you look in my twitter search history right now Ryan Newman is at the top of the list. I watched what short post-race there was halfheartedly. Yes Denny celebrated at first with doughnuts. His spotter says via twitter to blame him- that he told Denny to watch for the emergency vehicles and then ran down to Ryan Newman’s spotter to be a supportive friend. You could tell Denny was a little confused when he got out of the car after his doughnuts that there was nobody there to greet him. He didn’t see the replay until he got to victory lane.

While watching social media (in my case mostly twitter)- over the next couple hours I saw some amazing well-wishes and prayers for Ryan Newman. My favorite one was “We’re All Ryan Newman Fans Tonight.” Drivers from other forms of motorsports including NHRA and INDYCAR and WorldofOutlaws sent such prayer-filled messages. Messages sent from other sports (I saw some from hockey because I follow that sport- I am sure there were others I missed). People who said things like “I am not a racing fan but I just saw the accident here on twitter and I am sending prayers.” It was the best of social media.

But then it was also the worst of social media. I saw blame and hatred. Some people were upset with Denny for his celebration. Some blamed Ryan Blaney (not his fault- pushing is what you do when you are 200 yards from the start-finish line at a super speedway- and judging by his post-race interview- he is doing enough blaming of himself). I even saw ridiculous claims that it was the President’s fault. And a few that Newman deserved the karma for being associated with a sport that would allow the president to be the grand marshal. I saw a lot of people trashing the media for not speculating on his possible injuries. I saw lots of rumor mongering. It was somewhat terrible and embarrassing of social media. To the point that I had to put it down for awhile and go do other things (but not for long because I was still looking for that update).

Ryan Newman’s accident at Daytona was a reminder that we fans are lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to racing. That the drivers are brave and slightly crazy for strapping into that car 36 weekends a year and driving upwards of 200 miles an hour. We can be thankful the cars are as safe as they are but there is still such high risks associated with racing. All forms of racing.

As of this writing (the next morning) official word on Ryan’s condition is what it was last night- he is in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries. Somewhat a relief but still plenty to worry and pray about.

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