Lightning-related death raises questions


According to multiple reports, with sources including The Sporting News and the Associated Press, NASCAR and race tracks are taking a look at their storm policies after Sunday’s death of a fan shortly following the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

Brian Zimmerman, 41 of Moosic, Pa., was struck by lightning in one of the track’s parking lots as he stood near his car soon after the conclusion of the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday that was delayed by an hour-and-a-half and then shortened to 98 laps of the orginally-scheduled 160-lap distance because of rain.

Nine others were injured.

According to a Sporting News report, two fans were killed by lightning strikes at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in 1983. Three spectators at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway sustained minor injuries from lightning strikes in 2004.

“We’re in communication with NASCAR,” Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky said, according to The Sporting News. “They’re in communication with us. The race is NASCAR’s call, so we’re still looking at all that.”

NASCAR spokesman David Higdon pointed out that the race was stopped before any lightning strikes.

“If they’re hearing something, and they want to make a decision that an evacuation is necessary, we would not push back on that,” Higdon said. “There certainly is going to be a dialogue.”

According to the Association Press, fans were warned to seek shelter as lightning and heavy rains were approaching the race track, but several of the 85,000 fans in attendance claimed they didn’t hear the warning.

Whether or not there was a sufficient warning and regardless of who, if anyone, is to blame in this situation, multiple race tracks, as well as NASCAR, are now saying that they intend to evaluate their storm-related safety policies.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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Tags: Death Lightning NASCAR Pocono Raceway Weather