Should Restrictor Plate Racing Be Utilized At Other Super Speedways?

For those that don¹t know what restrictor plates are in the world of NASCAR, I will put it into easy terms that the average person can understand. In between the carburetor and the intake manifold of a motor, the crew of a car will place a piece of metal that has holes drilled into it that is to the specifications of NASCAR. The reason for this piece of metal is to restrict the amount of airflow to the engine, which keeps the car from traveling at such a rate that it is dangerous to the driver and to the fans as well.

Restrictor plates were first used in NASCAR following a 1987 high speed crash involving Bobby Allison, a retaining wall, and a speed of over 210 mph, endangering hundreds of nearby fans. That same year, Bill Elliot posted a record speed of 213 mph while qualifying at Talladega, and experts were predicting that future speeds would surpass 225 mph with the coming enhancements to the aerodynamics of the cars. Because of these speeds, restrictor plate use began in 1988.

Right now, there are only two tracks that utilize the ³restrictor plate² to reduce speeds, and prevent high speed crashes; Daytona and Talladega. But the surfaces at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta are considered to be the two fastest tracks in the series and the speeds at Michigan are close to those at Daytona. So at what point are the speeds considered dangerous enough to require restrictor plates?

I researched the race speed records at several speedways. According to Nascar.com, Talladega¹s race record is 188 mph, and Daytona¹s race record is 177 mph. Speeds at Texas and Atlanta are 151 mph and 160 mph, respectively. But the race record speed at Michigan is 173 mph. So, how fast is ³dangerous² in the eyes of NASCAR?

There is the flip side to this; If the restrictor plate is used on the car, what effect does it have on the point standings and competition? Does it put everyone¹s car at the same level? Does making the cars equal make the drivers have to use their driving skills more instead of relying on superior equipment? Is this a good thing for competition? And if it is, should restrictor plates be used at more tracks? If not, should they be used at ANY tracks?

These tracks that have restrictor plate racing also tend to have bigger accidents, or multi-car accidents, because the cars are running in a tight pack instead of being able to spread out around the track such as they do at California Speedway and other non-restrictor plate tracks. So, which is more dangerous, the big multi-car accidents involving packs of cars as a result of restrictor plates, or the high-speed crashes that could occur if the drivers weren¹t held back by restrictor plates?


Published on March 20, 2006 in