Alex Daugherty M.S. '16 Stabile | Columbia Journalism School
Photo: Melissa Lyttle
His Master's Project was Published in The New York Times

Alex Daugherty M.S. '16 Stabile

I was scrambling for Master’s Project topics like most people are in the first couple of months of school. I happened to be reading and noticed that in the span of about two weeks back in central Pennsylvania there were two deaths at two different race tracks. I thought that was interesting and just started to read everything I could and realized there were spaces to do reporting that hadn’t been done before.

I started in September and worked through mid April. Small-town racing across the country is dangerous, and there are some adjustments that could be made to dramatically improve the safety of athletes and fans. I investigated and built data on deaths that occurred throughout the country and explained why these deaths are still happening given that the equipment for racing is much safer now than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

The story is not “this is what needs to happen with racing.” It’s more pointing out what goes on that leads to death, like the equipment to prevent your neck from moving, which is not required at many racetracks and the lack of medical and emergency response that happens at these tracks when a driver is in an accident.

There are hundreds of racetracks across the county and some do things better than others. In this way, it’s been an interesting project, because I’m not writing about one single entity like a corporation or the NFL, so it becomes harder to determine who is at fault.

Photo: Melissa Lyttle

Read the article, "Short-Track Racing, Motorsports’ Riskiest Corner," in The New York Times.