When you're racing at 200 miles per hour surrounded by other NASCAR drivers, you need to know how to handle a major mishap. Learn the safest way to wreck with this crash course.
Step 1: Assess the situation To avoid a wreck that’s just happened in front of you, take your foot off the gas: jamming on the brakes only makes it more likely that the cars behind you will crash into you. Try to bypass the accident, but avoid a drastic lane change unless no other cars are around you.
TIP: Wait until the last possible moment to choose a lane because the wreck may change direction suddenly, taking you along with it.
Step 2: Take your hands off the wheel If slamming into the wreck ahead of you is unavoidable, or you've lost control of your car and are headed for a wreck of your own, take your hands off the wheel and cross your arms over your chest to protect your thumbs and wrists.
TIP: If you're spinning and can't remove your hands from the wheel, loosen your grip so that if you crash, your hands will be knocked free cleanly.
Step 3: Hit the brakes Hit the brakes, but don't straighten your legs, which can increase your risk of breaking an ankle. Relax your muscles and slow your breathing as much as possible.
Step 4: Lean into the impact If you're facing a rear-end or side collision, ignore your instinct to move away from the impact. Instead, to minimize whiplash, lean into it and rest against the back or side of the impact-absorbing headrest and seat. If you're about to collide head on, rely on your NASCAR HANS device -- a collar that connects your helmet to your driver's suit and keeps your head from snapping forward.
TIP: If you hit the wall and the car is still moving, steer the car to stay against it to avoid being struck by another car on the track. Don't exit the car until the other cars have passed.
Step 5: Grip your helmet when flipping If your car is flipping, lift your visor and grip the lower part of your helmet with both hands to keep your head from bouncing around and your hands tethered safely.
Step 6: Make your exit Once you've settled to a stop, if the car catches fire, remove the steering wheel so there’s room to make a clean escape. Then, undo the seat belts and unhook yourself from the radio, air hose, and drinking tube. Pull down the window netting, and get out of there!
FACT: According to a fan site tally, NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose spun or crashed on the track 7 times in the final 8 races of the 2010 season.