Garage-area access might change

Posted: Thursday, January 09, 2003

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR is considering a plan to prohibit drivers from signing autographs in the garage area at tracks.

NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. said Wednesday the possible ban is part of the sanctioning body's ongoing effort to restore order in the garage.

''We need to get the garage area back to where the guys can work on the cars,'' France said. ''So if we do this, when a fan asks a driver for an autograph, the driver will be able to say 'NASCAR won't let me.' ''

A sport that has long prided itself on the level of access that fans have with the teams, NASCAR in recent years has seen an overcrowding that has led to numerous complaints from drivers and crews, as well as injuries among spectators.

Jeff Gordon is swarmed by dozens of fans every time he's in the garage. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has taken to sprinting to his destinations.

Crew members have griped that people surround the cars, making it impossible for them to move around, and fans have been treated for injuries from being run over by heavy tool carts to being knocked down in the crowds surrounding drivers.

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