Murphy’s law, the adage stating that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” can definitely be applied to NASCAR races over the years.
There’s been everything from Big Ones taking out dozen of cars on the track to cars flying into the grandstands and injuring fans in the process. Whoever says that “NASCAR is just a boring sport where all they do is turn left” has clearly never seen any of these extreme moments go down in real-time.
A wild Murphy’s law moment went down on lap 122 of the 2013 Coca-Cola 600, when a cable that suspended a FOX Sports television camera over the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s frontstretch snapped and fell on the track. It doesn’t sound that intense when you just read it, but the incident ended up injuring 10 fans and doing major damage to two cars.
It’s a scene that seemed to come straight from a Final Destination movie, and in the below fan video, we get a close-up view of the terror and confusion felt by many of the fans in attendance.
WATCH: Camera Cable Snaps at the 2013 Coca-Cola 600
It’s a little bit haunting to hear the fans in the video urging NASCAR officials to throw the caution flag, but thankfully, the red flag was eventually displayed on lap 126, with “debris on the frontstretch” listed as the official reason. The race was delayed for 26 minutes, and teams were given 15 minutes to fix their cars without losing position, which hadn’t been done before.
While Marcos Ambrose’s and Mark Martin’s cars sustained some damage as a result of the snapped cable, Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota bore the brunt of it. Busch, who couldn’t see the cable on the track until it was too late, ran over it, causing significant damage to his car’s right side.
“I heard a big thump on the right front tire,” Busch said in a later interview. “I thought the right front tire blew out and that’s how hard it felt. It did have an effect of slowing my car down. I couldn’t feel it.”
Despite insisting to his team that his car was “killed,” Busch went the DIY route, snapping photos of the damage to send to his team members, who were able to get things back to operable shape. Busch was able to continue racing until lap 257, when his car’s engine failed.
There were several other significant caution-causing incidents that day at Charlotte — including a Dale Earnhardt Jr. oil spillage that brought out another red flag and a massive wreck on lap 325 that collected six cars — but the cable-snapping debacle was really all anyone could talk about after the race was over.
When it was all said and done, 10 fans were injured as a result of the snapped camera cable, with seven being treated for “minor cuts and scrapes” and three being taken to the hospital for further evaluation. Nearly two years after the incident, one fan actually sued Charlotte Motor Speedway, claiming the cable wrapped around his arm and caused permanent injuries.
In an official statement following the May 26 race, Fox Sports didn’t offer an immediate cause behind the failure. They did announce the launch of an investigation and the indefinite suspension of the camera usage, while providing a little insight into how the camera system worked.
“The camera system consists of three ropes — a drive rope which moves the camera back and forth, and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed near the Turn 1 connection and fell to the track. The camera itself did not come down because guide ropes acted as designed.”Advertisement
Over a week into their investigation, Fox remained befuddled over the cable’s failure, with representatives saying that the rope that failed was certified for a breaking strength of 9,300 pounds and that it bore less than 900 pounds of force during the race.
This led to a thorough review of Fox’s CAMCAT camera system, which included poring through everything from equipment maintenance records to installation information. Sounds like a super boring job, but it beats the alternative of no job at all, I guess.
Unless it’s buried among their initial explanations regarding the failure, Fox didn’t ever seem to have any definitive findings of the issue. Though, hopefully, they took Kyle Busch’s advice about the clearly-unstable CAMCAT system: “Maybe now we can get rid of that thing.”