Cleetus McFarland’s Bristol 1000 devolved into calamity

Aaron Richardson

Aaron Richardson

Bristol

It shouldn’t really be a shock to anybody when a race comprising a field of YouTube car culture celebrities in busted old Ford Crown Victorias on an honest-to-goodness NASCAR track goes bad. But this is the internet, and YouTube is lit up this week with hand-wringing over a massive wreck at the Bristol 1000, conceived and hosted by Garrett Mitchell, who goes by the YouTube handle Cleetus McFarland.

The event was a 100-lap race of the famed Bristol Motor Speedway just outside Bristol, Tennessee. A field of 20-odd YouTubers raced ex-police Crown Vics at the best part of 90 mph around the banked oval. The field included drivers with next to zero experience racing circle track at all, let alone on a banked oval, all the way to NASCAR pro Hailie Deegan and her dad, former X-Games motocrosser Brian Deegan.

Predictably, things went south in a big way on lap 14, when skilled amateur driver and racecar builder Kevin Smith tried to pass Deegan by bumping another driver. The other driver, Nick Sous of the Side By Side Blog YouTube channel, got out of shape and spun up the track, collecting Deegan before they both slammed head-on into the outside wall at 70-odd mph.

Smith admitted he went too hard too soon and took blame for the incident. Regardless of fault, racing is racing, and sometimes stuff goes south in a major way. In the end, the wreck collected at least a half-dozen cars, and left Deegan and Sous battered and bruised. Deegan’s seat was badly twisted, and both she and Sous took precautionary trips to the circuit medical center.

There’s a lot to unpack, and plenty of YouTube videos trying to parse what happened. The big takeaway, though, is that the difference between the local circle track and a full-on NASCAR venue is huge, and the consequences even bigger.

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