CONCORD, N.C. - It was a scary scene Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway as a TV Camera cable snapped, parts of it landing in the stands and injuring 10 fans.
It happened on turn four, 121 laps into NASCAR's longest race of the season, the Coke 600 with racecars traveling at speeds of 195 mph.
The race was red flagged for a little over 40 minutes, allowing drivers to inspect their cars for damage, and for workers to remove pieces of cable from the track.
Race leader, Kyle Busch and his 18 Toyota suffered some of the worst damage. The 9 Ford of Marcos Ambrose took a major hit, too. Of the ten fans injured, seven fans were treated on site and released. Three were transported to area hospitals for further evaluation.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spoke to reporters about the incident late Sunday night, saying "I'm aware of what happened and I hope all the fans are okay."
The camera cable belonged to Fox Sports, who released the following statement:
At this time, we do not have a cause for the failure of the camera drive line that interrupted tonight's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and our immediate concern is with injured fans.
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 conncection and fell to the track. The camera itself did not come down because guide ropes acted as designed. A full investigation is planned, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely.
This camera system had been used successfully at this year's Daytona 500, last week's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and other major events around the world. We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight's event, we apologized to the racers who cars were damaged and our immediate concern is for the race fans. We also offer a sincere 'thank you' to the staff at Charlotte Motor Speedway for attending to the injuries and keeping us informed on this developing situation.
NASCAR says they will wait on Fox Sports' investigation of the cause of the camera rope snap before deciding what technology to use in future races.
NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Thorp told The Associated Press on Monday that there were no plans to use the system at upcoming races "so we'll have ample time to review."
Monday evening, Fox Sports released a follow-up statement:
Everyone at FOX Sports is relieved and thankful to know that the injuries to fans caused when CAMCAT malfunctioned Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway were minor, and those who received hospital treatment were released last night. As stated previously, we regret that the race was affected, and we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, to everyone at CMS, NASCAR, and NASCAR fans, especially those who were hurt. At this time, we still do not have a cause for what happened, but a full investigation is underway, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely.
The rope is made of Dyneema, an ultra-strong synthetic that has the same approximate strength of a steel wire with the same diameter, and is less than a year old. According to the company, it had been factory-tested by the manufacturer and its breaking strength is certified before shipment. It was also inspected by CAMCAT upon receipt last June. The rope was certified to have a breaking strength of over 9,300 pounds. The force exerted during last night's race was less than 900 pounds.
FOX Sports is reviewing with CAMCAT equipment maintenance records, history and installation information and will share those findings with NASCAR and CMS.