Tony Stewart was the winner of this year’s Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona, but the big talk was NASCAR’s removal of a spectator video. Shot by a fan in the stands, the video shows a pileup, and debris hitting the catch fence — but more importantly, a tire in the stands which had clearly injured a spectator. YouTube quickly reposted the video as both sides issued dueling statements about the incident.
It all began on the race’s last lap as drivers sped toward the finish, and an ensuing pileup sent Kyle Larson’s car into the wall. Debris was sprayed into the crowd and a spectator video posted on YouTube below clearly shows injured racegoers along with the surreal sight of a damaged tire which had been propelled into the stands.
Shortly after the video was posted NASCAR claimed a copyright infringement, triggering YouTube’s auto-removal. Just like the law says. Subsequent to this, the person who posted the material can contest the removal — or YouTube itself can reinstate the video after its own review. And, that’s just what happened. All at the speed of Richard Petty.
NASCAR’s corporate statement claimed its attempt to remove the telltale video was out of respect for those injured. (So, they intentionally violated someone ELSE’s First Amendment rights out of concern. All while being fine with countless other views being shown on their very own official website.)
YouTube’s take was quite different. “Our partners and users do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they contain content which is copyright infringing, which is why we have reinstated the videos.”
Make no mistake, there were many injuries suffered. Some described the scene as “a war zone.” NASCAR also had no comment after being asked about its policy on spectator videos.
Here’s the video – be warned that there’s a bit of foul language in it (keep reading below):
So it seems in this case that free speech ended up being the winner, while NASCAR is backpedalling faster than Jeff Gordon’s top speed.
UPDATE: Faster than a speeding, uh, NASCAR car, the video is down again, with a message that it has been removed by the user (hrrrmmmm).
Someone else has put up a slide show of photos to approximate the video:
And here is the official NASCAR version:
While many were injured, fortunately none fatally and, amazingly, Kyle Larson walked away from the crash.
Said Larson, “I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right,” … “I took a couple of big hits there and saw my engine was gone.”