Close call at Coca-Cola 600

Snapped TV rope fell within inches of Hudson man celebrating birthday at race
May. 28, 2013 @ 08:06 AM

Boy, does Steven Tolbert have a story to tell when he gets back to work at Granite Falls Barber Shop.

Tolbert went to the Coca-Cola 600 race in Charlotte Sunday to celebrate his 41st birthday and the upcoming 12th birthday of his son, Anthony. He was inches from possible disaster when a heavy, cable-like rope holding an overhead FOX Sports TV camera snapped and fell from the grandstands, injuring 10 people, three of whom were taken to the hospital. The rope landed between Tolbert and the man sitting next to him.

The incident occurred on lap 121 of the 400-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Part of the rope fell on the track, delaying the race for 27 minutes while crews repaired damage to their cars. One of the injured was identified as Tim Seymour of Lenoir; Seymour could not be reached for comment Monday.

Kyle Busch was leading when he ran over the rope, which damaged the right front wheel well of his No. 18 Toyota.

"We were on row 28 beside the tower in turn one," Tolbert said. "When the rope dropped, it came down between me and another guy. It was stretched across the fence and to the middle of the tri-oval. After Kyle Busch drove over it, the rope broke back."

Those injured were below Tolbert. Race fans around him held the rope up and out of the way as medics attended to the injured.

Tolbert was just happy his son was sitting on the other side. He also was relieved it was a rope and not made of metal.

"If had been a steel cable, we'd be telling a whole different story," he said.

Fox said it has used the camera system at the Daytona 500, at last week's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, and other major sporting events.

"We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight's event, we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, and our immediate concern is for the race fans," Fox said in a statement. "We also offer a sincere thank you to the staff at Carolinas Medical Center for attending to the injuries and keeping us informed on this developing situation."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.