A DEATH IN THE RACING FAMILY
Auto racing. or motorsports in general, is a dangerous sport. We know this. I know this.
We just donít think about it.
Of course, by ďweĒ, I mean myself, my nephew, Anthony, his father, Carl, his car owner, Lonnie, and everyone else that has been connected with the sprint car that Anthony drives, and any other race team we have been involved with.
There are always wrecks. Bad wrecks. We were present this past season when two drivers were seriously hurt in the same night. July 4th at Granby with the All-Stars. One guy was injured in a wreck in time trials, the other in the closing laps of the A-Main.
Anthony has had some wrecks. The one at Granby in 2007 that destroyed the car and left him banged up. The wreck at Lebanon Valley with the World of Outlaws this year that he walked away from. The one he got hurt in, was not a major wreck to watch. July 3rd at Can-Am last year. Michael Parent spun in front of Anthony, flopped onto his side, and Anthony spun to try and avoid him, but hit Michaelís top wing, sending a support through the wing, and through the side panel of Anthonyís car, gashing Anthonyís arm.
Everyone knows that Anthony might get hurt at the track, but we donít harp on it. If we did, we would stay home.
This is where I jinx everything.
We never really have had to deal with a death at the race track. There was a race at Fonda where an older driver in a support division had a really bad accident and we found out later that he died.
But we never had one of ďourĒ drivers meet their fate at the track. By that, I mean our division of sprint cars. Like I said, we donít think about it.
But death does happen at the racetrack. I have been a race fan for many, many years, and I can name A LOT of drivers who died doing the sport they loved. Mark Donahue. Swede Savage. Tiny Lund. Friday Hassler. Richie Evans. Gilles Villeneuve. Ayrton Senna. Neil Bonnett. Larry Smith. Grant Adcocx. J.D. McDuffie. Greg Moore. Dale Earnhardt. Clifford Allison. Kenny Irwin. Adam Petty. Two names I canít include, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki, did not die on the race track.
And now we include Dan Wheldon. I did not see the original wreck, but switched to the race from football during the red flag. I ended up staying with it through the end. It reminded me of the 2006 IndyCar finale at Fontana. Greg Moore had a violent crash into an infield wall. The race was stopped, area cleaned, and they restarted the race. We learned that Moore had died a little while later, but the drivers were not told until the race was over.
Today was different. 15 cars involved, and such carnage and debris, that the mess had to be cleaned up and repairs done to the walls, track, and catch fence. In that time, the drivers had time to think and wonder about Wheldon. And when the word came down that Wheldon didnít survive, the drivers knew the championship had already been decided, so there was no real reason to go on. I think even the 5 lap tribute was hard to do for some of the drivers.
But in the end, we go on. The drivers will continue to race. I will continue to be a race fan.
We will go to the races. We will get the car ready. Anthony will race.
And we will think good thoughts.