What a strange word is Debris. It’s actually a 17th century French word and if you look it up in Webster’s Dictionary it has quite a few different meanings and descriptions. Of all the descriptive passages I found, one that really fits well here says this: carelessly discard refuse or litter.
So what’s the point of all this talk of Debris? Mostly that in some cases it can be avoided. We’ve all been to races where there’s excellent green flag racing and suddenly the caution flag is waved. The drivers slow their vehicles and fall in line behind the pace car. Meanwhile you sit in the stands wondering who crashed. You look around the track and see no wreck. Fortunately somebody near you has a scanner and you find out it’s debris on the track. Sometimes this is a legitimate call. With all the beating and banging going on throughout a race it is possible for something to shake loose. Or if a car has been in a wreck there’s almost always wreckage debris. These types of caution for debris I can live with, but that’s not the end of it. There are two other types of Debris, both of which are controllable and both are unacceptable.
There are some race tracks which are prone to long runs of green flag racing. Some drivers in the past have stooped so low as to carry with them some form of debris, which they toss out the window at the opportune moment. This is a premeditated plan, designed to bring out the caution flag when one driver or team deems it necessary to pit because of an ill handling car, they need gas or tires. This entire process is also good for bunching the field for a restart, especially if you are about to be lapped or the race leader is getting too far ahead of you. Whatever the reason for the deliberate act, it is inexcusable, cheating, ungentlemanly, and gutless and can be avoided. Naturally there’s never any intent to harm another drier or car, but hey, accident’s happen. If a driver cuts down a tire on this debris they could go driving off into a wall and cause serous damage to car a driver.
With television coverage the way it is today, there are’nt many things you can get away with that one or two cameras will not see. And there should be stiff fines or major loss of points if you are caught doing this kind of thing.
Finally, the other type of debris is a real pet peeve of mine. In my world, from a fan’s perspective, this is the worst and it never brings out the caution fag. This debris is not dangerous and yet can ruin your driver’s day in minutes and change the entire outcome of a race. It’s the 5 cent hot dog wrapper. At least that’s what they call it on the television broadcast. But it’s not just the hot dog wrapper; it’s any paper or plastic wrapper from any number of different things. I’m not sure why, but whenever we attend a sports event, a movie or concert we think it’s okay to leave our garbage wherever. But at those other events they don’t’ usually have an effect on the outcome. NASCAR fans are one of kind: there are very few sports fans as passionate as these and yet their actions can actually change a race’s outcome. When a car at high speed has a paper wrapper stuck on its grill, almost immediately the driver will notice his water temperature going up. If this is not remedied fairly quickly the car will start to over heat and sometimes put a car entirely out of the race. There are some ways of addressing the problem which also triggers some exciting driving. For example if you think your car is saddled with paper on the grilled, it can be confirmed by our spotter, another driver or the network television cameras. Then you look for an on -track friend who’s willing to let you draft him. By drafting, when you get your car close enough to the car ahead of you it takes the air off the nose of your car and the paper simply falls off. If you are fortunate and the caution flag comes out you can pit and have one of your crewman remove the paper (Just don’t’ be the guy causing the caution by throwing debris out of the window)
The best way to avoid this problem is to just not throw your garbage on the floor so that the wind can pick it up and carry it down onto the track and eventually onto the nose of a car. The problem exists from NASCAR’s smallest to largest venues, there are lots of people and lots’ of garbage: almost impossible to control.
So I have a few ideas about his: some are outrageous and some just plain common sense. I’ll start with the latter: put your trash in a trash can, take along a bag just for trash and empty it when you leave, or at the very least if you have paper garbage, ball it up instead of leaving it flat. The wind is less likely to pick up a ball of paper and carry it. It’s also less likely a ball of paper will get stuck in the grille of a race car.
Now the outrageous ideas: Don’t’ allow the hot dog wrappers and French fry containers into the stands. Here’s my favorite: make the fans put their name and seat number on their hot dog wrappers and if it happens to cause a car to fall out of the race, that fan’s name should be announced over the PA system and your face shown all the jumbo screens around the track (that’s why we want your seat number). Then, once you’re identified, let the crowd deal with you. How ironic would it be if you’re at the race cheering for your favorite driver and your hot dog wrapper takes your driver out of contention for a win? How would you feel then? Pretty stupid I would imagine.
The bottom line; think before you just toss your trash; remember it can affect the outcome. Do you want to be responsible for determining who wins and who looses?