PR fail: NASCAR angers fans by blocking spectator video of crash; Update: YouTube reinstates clip

The safety fence at the Daytona International Speedway wasn’t quite enough to keep debris from today’s dramatic multi-car pileup from reaching spectators in the stands. Some of those fans captured video of the event and uploaded it to the Internet, but the videos were almost immediately blocked by YouTube on the grounds of a copyright claim by NASCAR. The videos quickly turned up on other sites, and just as quickly ignited a debate on censorship and public relations. Was the blocking of the video just business as usual, or was it an attempt to suppress a newsworthy event?

NASCAR had announced a press conference for 7 p.m. to give an update on injuries. Up to 28 fans have been reported hurt. But what about the video? Isn’t that news?

Tyler Andersen, who shot video of a tire hitting a nearby fan in the stands, said he would repost the blocked video — after taking some time for prayer.

* * *


NASCAR has responded to the controversy with a brief statement.

The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident. Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.

Some are, some aren’t.

* * *


This is getting interesting. YouTube has reinstated the video, writing, “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.”

  • Richard Jefferies

    In addition to velocity those tires are scorching hot. I’ve been hit with rubber standing at the fence at a CART race. I can understand why NASCAR is attempting to block it. They are going to be in court over this as sure as shoot’n, but I think by acting the way they have they’ve only done further damage as more people are going to want to see the video now than would have. Lets not give racing fans a bad name by looking like we want to see someone get killed. We know that “wrecks” are the sign that racers are on the edge of the envelope, but to non-race fans it only bolsters the stereotype. I was glad to see everyone trying to waive down officials and render aid.

    • Spatial Awareness

      Exactly. Hot rubber is the worst kind of burn, let alone getting hit and injured by a heavy object at that speed. Well wishes and Prayers to all involved.

    • EBSD2988

      The whole wheel assembly was still attached. The arm, brake rotors, all scorching hot and people were hit with it. Sad, sending prayers.

      • AMERICAN Kafir™(KAdams)

        Yeah, I was going to say, I see the wheel still attached… what is that, an additional 50-100lbs of hot steel?

    • Harry A

      think they blocked it because they werent sure about the condition of the fans? if someone had died i doubt their family would have wanted such a video all over the internet right away

  • Josephine (D)

    So there’s people injured and a big race tomorrow, and NASCAR’s worried about videos? What, if anything, are they trying to hide?

    • EBSD2988

      The possibility of showing someone getting killed!!??

    • EBSD2988

      They aren’t hiding anything, it was out of respect for the injured whose condition was not known at the time.

      • cgraham77

        You’re either incredibly naive, or are actually affiliated with NASCAR, trying to do some damage control.

        There is HUGE liability with this. THAT’S why they don’t want video out!

    • Jillane Kent

      Isn’t it enough to read about the event? NASCAR owns the rights to their product, just like any other sporting or entertainment video. Clamoring to see the videos of people being hurt and seriously injured is a tad ghoulish, in my opinion. YMMV

  • Gallatin

    How are fan videos the property of NASCAR?

    • EBSD2988

      As with any sporting event. Anything shot at the event is property of the sport. (Nascar, NFL, etc.) Nascar is trying to protect the injured.

      • Gallatin

        I should not be the property of the sport, and NASCAR is trying to protect NASCAR.

        • Guest

          You should go work for Nanny Bloomberg in NYC.

          • Gallatin

            Why’s that?

    • Guy Driggers

      On the back of every ticket/credential, either the track hosting the event or NASCAR itself lays out in clear terms that they own the rights to ALL images, sounds, and data from the event.

      • Jillane Kent

        The truth gets a downvote?

        • $36544368

          Oh, Jillane, don’t you just love the clowns who down-voted you for asking that? /sarc

          Smart-alecks, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, the truth usually does, especially if it’s unpopular and inconvenient, on any level – sports, politics, etc.

          And just to start the ball rolling, I’ll even down-vote myself on this post. /smh

      • Gallatin

        Is NASCAR a for profit private enterprise?

        Does the revenue generated by a NASCAR event support all of its activities?

        Does NASCAR suck at the government teat in any way shape or form?

        For instance do tax dollars support any of the tracks? And I already know the answer to this question.
        I would say that if NASCAR was a 100% self sufficient organization that it would have every right to print whatever it wanted on its tickets. But its not, taxpayers kick in money, so I say NASCAR owns nothing and has no right to make rules concerning what tax paying fans film.

        • Guy Driggers

          I agree with you that NASCAR shouldn’t be getting tax breaks for building and renovating race tracks, particularly with our debt and deficit problems. But that’s something to take up with Congressional leadership. The fact is, once you purchase a ticket to one of these events and you enter the track, you are subject to their rules, whether you agree with them or not.

          • Gallatin

            No professional sports get any of my money directly, it disgusts me that they get my money through taxes.

  • Liberty Ranger

    Uhmmmm I think I own part of NASCAR. Its called STIMULUS! Asshats. Ill never buy another ticket to another race. CENSOR THAT!

  • thumpy

    I probably never would have seen this vid had NASCAR not made headlines trying to squash it… if they wanted it to go viral in a hurry then mission accomplished.

  • EBSD2988

    Statement from Nascar… “video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident. Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.”

  • RightThinking1

    The lawyers were probably already lined up at the gates.

  • peteee363

    if the videos actually showed someone being killed, youtube should have pulled them. but only because nascar asked is no reason to pull them. if one of my videos was pulled, nascar would be shortly be called mycar!

    • Jillane Kent

      Doubtful. If you videotaped the race, you would be in violation of the fine print that can be found on the back of the ticket.

    • TN05

      Not true. There is a pretty graphic video of a guy getting sliced in half by a Ferrari (word of advice: DO NOT WATCH IT. you cannot unsee it. Look it up on Wikipedia instead) and the ’55 Les Mans disaster, which killed 82 people. Death videos aren’t uncommon.

  • trudykells

    Bad enough the force & heat of the tire & rubber – think about it – engine flew through fence spraying anyone near (including a camera crew guy right at that turn!) with all the hot fluids inside the engine! at those speeds – I just pray that everyone will be ok.

  • Steve_J

    I don’t recall NASCAR blocking any other videos out of respect for anyone.

    • TugboatPhil

      They had no problem running Earnhardt’s Daytona crash over and over.

      • TN05

        Earnhardt’s video is different… You don’t see his truly horrific death (look up basilar skull fractures), you see his car hit a wall. You don’t see him die directly. NASCAR had no way of knowing if someone was killed in this video and reasonably guessed that people wouldn’t like the death of their friend or relative on YouTube.

        • TugboatPhil

          Point taken.

  • Brian Roastbeef

    Common sense fail: Nascar continues to hold races at Daytona and Talladega despite 25+ years of evidence that restrictor plates aren’t making the tracks all that safer.

    I understand and respect tradition in the sport, but it’s time to rethink the need for those two tracks when the cars with the plates are flying in the stands the same as Bobby Allison’s in ’87. Technology has simply made the cars too fast for 2.5 mile high banked tracks. Restrictor plates do nothing but bunch up the field to make a slightly-slower huge wreck an inevitability.

    Why should Daytona and Talladega be sacred cows, particularly when Brian France has done plenty to stomp all over Nascar tradition for far less reason than the continued safety of fans, crew, and drivers??

    • TugboatPhil

      Brian, I was a NASCAR fan from my youth in the 60s. Daytona would make national TV, but the only racing I could follow on Sundays were by taking my transistor radio to the roof of our garage, and hoping the atmosphere was good enough to pick up WBT out of Charlotte, NC.

      That said, with all the cars having to follow strict construction regs and all of them being built from scratch, I don’t know why they push the farce of “stock car” racing anymore. I wish they’d be honest and change their acronym to NAAR. Stock Car is definitely not part of the circuit anymore.

      • Brian Roastbeef

        I understand the tradition behind both tracks, and of course the Daytona 500. It’s great that racing has come so far that I can watch Cup, N’wide, and Trucks weekly, even up here in NY. The problem isn’t one of history though, but physics. It’s been more than enough time that answers need to be considered beyond the yearly pointless tweak to the rules of restrictor plate racing.

        While the Daytona 500 brand should live on, find a better way. Build a track on the beach, if they want to claim tradition, and bring the race back to its roots in the ’50s. Overhaul the current track. Run the road course there… I just say it’s time to explore options beyond the yearly tweaks that have come since Earnhardt died, none of which have made plate racing a whole lot more pleasant. SAFER barriers, and greater driver attentiveness to safety have been a Godsend, but Daytona and Talladega remain ticking time bombs on the schedule.

        As for your comment regarding how “stock” these cars really are, agreed. Sadly Nascar returning to anything resembling stock cars is even more unlikely than their reconsidering Daytona and Talladega… No way they’ll relax their tight control over the process there.

  • Rob

    I understand the “respect” towards the injured fans but do they have the legal right? Sure, I can understand at a sporting event that video of the sporting event is legal rights of the hosting party of the event. But if you’re taking photos/videos of the people in the stands I don’t really think that’s property of the hosts.

    To say so would mean they have control over the stands and what takes place there. So if you get punched by a fellow fan that would imply that it was under the control of the NHL/NASCAR/MLB/Etc. and you should be able to sue them for the damages and not the offending party.

    So once those car parts departed the sporting area and entered the stands it left NASCAR’s ‘jurisdiction’ so to speak.

    Like if you wanted to kill someone with a drone outside of your country in the spectator stands it’s quite illegal. Especially if it is your own athlete, er, citizen.

    • Guy Driggers

      First, the stands are part of Daytona International Speedway, the venue hosting the event. Footage shot from the grandstands is still subject to claims by NASCAR as per the information on the back of their tickets, which reads: “NASCAR owns the rights to all images, sounds, and data from this NASCAR Event.”

      Second, the exact words on the ticket regarding risk of injury are as follows: “The Holder of this ticket expressly assumes all risk incident to the event, whether occurring prior to, during, or subsequent to the actual event and agrees that all participants, sanctioning bodies, and all employees, agents, officers, and directors of (track name), its affiliates and subsidiaries are hereby released from any and all claims arising from the event, including claims of negligence.”

      That means if you get punched by someone while inside the track, neither the track nor NASCAR can be held responsible for it. Same applies for flying tires and car parts.

      With that said, today was a horrible reminder that racing is inherently dangerous and there’s always room to improve safety for both the fans and the drivers. But people also have to understand that when you buy a ticket for one of these events, you’ve entered into an agreement with NASCAR and the hosting venue, and are therefore subject to their terms and conditions. If you don’t want to be subject to those terms and conditions, don’t go to the race.

      • Rob

        I know it is in NASCAR’s best interest but I was unaware. I have been to one F1 race in my life and that is it. Was unaware that you forked over so much money and rights.
        Boo that. I will stay home. :)

        • Guy Driggers

          I’ve been on both sides of the grandstands and, to be perfectly honest, I kinda prefer staying home. I’ve sat in the front row at Darlington and while it’s an amazingly visceral and thrilling experience, you don’t get to see a whole lot from ground level. The best seat in the house is usually in your house. :)

          What’s more is, unless you have a scanner or a phone that allows you to get real-time updates on the race, it can be a bit monotonous. That’s another reason to watch the race on TV – live commentary.

          • Rob

            Agreed. The only thing you miss out on at home is comradary but for the price of a ticket you can entice fellow fans to your house with ALOT of beer.

      • AMERICAN Kafir™(KAdams)

        However, copyright infringement? Who’s going to cash in on someone getting hurt like this, BESIDES NASCAR?

        • Guy Driggers

          Consider the statement they released concerning the video blackout. They claimed copyright on the videos that may or may not have shown someone’s death. I don’t know many families who would want their son / daughter / sister / brother / etc.’s last moments to become a viral sensation – hence why NASCAR censored the video.

          I’ll be the first to say that NASCAR has done some questionable things in the past, mostly in regards to how races are run and other business practices. I do have a problem with them being so quick to censor the videos without having a prepared explanation as to why, but I understand the reasoning. I’m hoping that in the coming days and weeks they’ll make it clear when, how, and why they would censor a video immediately after an accident like the one on Saturday.