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Safety at the Racetrack: Results of Restrictor Plates in Superspeedway Competition


  • J. Brian O'Roark

    () (James Madison University, Harrisonburg)

  • William C. Wood

    () (1. James Madison University, Harrisonburg)


In 1988, in an effort to reduce risks at auto races, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) implemented a provision requiring the installation of carburetor restrictor plates at its higher speed events. Restrictor plates make a car's engine less effective, thereby slowing the field. Many NASCAR drivers and fans alike question whether the reduction in speed has led to increased safety. This article investigates the empirical determinants of racetrack safety, paying particular attention to the results of restrictor-plate racing on driver safety. We conclude that whereas restrictor-plate races are characterized by more cars being wrecked, there is no systematic evidence that they have led to more driver injuries.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Brian O'Roark & William C. Wood, 2004. "Safety at the Racetrack: Results of Restrictor Plates in Superspeedway Competition," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 118-129, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:71:1:y:2004:p:118-129

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    Cited by:

    1. Frick, Bernd & Humphreys, Brad, 2011. "Prize Structure and Performance: Evidence from NASCAR," Working Papers 2011-12, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    2. Potter Joel M, 2011. "Estimating the Offsetting Effects of Driver Behavior in Response to Safety Regulation: The Case of Formula One Racing," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-22, July.
    3. Adam Pope & Robert Tollison, 2010. "“Rubbin’ is racin''': evidence of the Peltzman effect from NASCAR," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 507-513, March.
    4. McCannon, Bryan C., 2009. "Do less-violent technologies result in less violence? A theoretical investigation applied to the use of tasers by law enforcement," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-36, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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