When a NASCAR Cup Series driver calls the streets of New York City “the most wild thing”, then it must be something.
Chase Elliott was in NYC along with Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez and Jeff Gordon promoting NASCARs 75th anniversary season.
For his years with NASCAR, Elliott has seen a fair share of wild races and accidents. However, riding as a passenger through the streets of Manhattan, even the 2020 champion was shocked by the state of driving there.
Speaking about his experience there with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang, Elliott said:
“I’ve been shocked. I’ve been to New York City before, but for some reason, it just kind of dawned on me on this trip. I’m like, one, everyone is aggressive, which is totally fine with me on the road. I’d rather you be aggressive than hesitant. You know, I almost think being hesitant is more dangerous than just being really forward with your driving.
“The one that really gets me is as you’re driving around — I haven’t been driving. So I’ve been riding in the car, and you’ll be making right turns at red lights, and people might kind of be standing out in the road, and heck, these guys will make the turn, and unless that person moves, they’re getting run over, like a foot or something. Everyone is just expected to move, and they do. Every time. It’s the most wild thing I’ve ever seen.
“I don’t know why I’ve never paid attention to that or never recognized that, but there’s been four or five times I’m like, ‘Yeah, we’re hitting them. We’re running this person over.’ They’re just kind of nonchalantly sitting there on their cell phone, just step back like no big deal. Yeah, I almost lost my feet, but no worries, I’ll just keep scrolling Twitter and go on down the road. It’s a different place.”
The host then suggested that driving in the NYC streets is like driving through the Cup Series garage during practice. The Hendrick Motorsports driver completely agreed with the comparison.
“That’s the thing I’m thinking about,” Elliott replied. “When we do pull in the garage, no joke, that is a concern of mine because, I’m like, this day and time, it’s like, ‘Dang, if we hit somebody, my goodness gracious, what in the world would this turn into, right.’
“So I think we’re all very careful about that and try to be mindful because some people don’t necessarily do it on purpose. But in the garage when we have practice and things, it’s pretty chaotic. There’s a lot going on and these cars don’t turn very sharp so you need the entire garage area to get into your garage stall a lot of times to make the turn and not have to do an eight-point turn there during practice.
“And some people just don’t realize that. Maybe it’s their first race or they’ve never been or don’t understand and they’re kind of walking around there blind and just not sure of what’s going on. Yeah, definitely have to be careful with that around the track. Around here, it’s no big deal. They just step back and let you go on by.”
While not on the NYC streets, NASCAR is bringing its racing to the streets of Chicago in the 2023 season.