Tempers fray during most races. What might be a bump to one fellow is an attempt to take out another driver, at least in that driver’s mind. A race car that once was a finely tuned machine but now resembles a hunk of junk can frustrate even the calmest of drivers-and most are not very calm.
Countless times I have watched drivers climb out of a wrecked car ready for vengeance. I have watched helmets thrown by those who believe they have been wronged-helmets, and not that long ago a steering wheel. I have watched plenty of one fingered hand signals fly as a supposed offender drives by. And, I have even viewed a karate kick to the side of a race car.
All of the above have been done by a driver standing alone on a track, attempting to somehow harm a driver in the relative safety of his race car. A race track is a dangerous place with only automobiles driving around. To an individual standing on the track as cars pass by, it is ridiculously unsafe. I am sure I will hear, it has been this way forever, but is “that how it’s been done” justification for possible loss of life?
There always seems to be a yin and a yang in these situations. An angry driver of a wrecked climbs out of his car looking for the driver who done him wrong. As he closes on the other driver, that driver steps on the gas pedal in his car. Two emotional human beings are reacting in a fashion that has become all too acceptable in racing. What happens when the driver steps on the gas and the rear tires spin and throw the car around a little? Nothing to the driver in the car, but the driver standing alone on the track can be hurt, or as happened in New York, lose his life. This has to stop.
My suggestion is this-the second a driver gets out of a wrecked car for other than fire or the threat of fire, throw the red flag, stopping all race cars on the track. Get security to that driver immediately and let it be known that if the does not proceed to the pits there will be a severe penalty, not a dollar fine, but a lengthy suspension. Get all tracks on the same page with this and make sure that what is a suspension at one track is upheld at another. Not being able to race anywhere for a month ought to throw cold water on a hot temper.
Accidents are going to happen at a race track. Emotions are going to rage. It needs to be track officials who keep that rage under control. I don’t want another family to suffer through what Kevin Ward’s family is suffering through at this moment. “Boys will be boys” is no longer a reasonable excuse for seeking on track retribution.
That Tony Stewart was involved does not make the accident more tragic. Because of his name it gives an opportunity for change that would not have been there if two Canandaigua regulars had been involved.
That is a fair solution to a bad problem. No cars are moving so harm can be avoided. The threat of suspension should ease even the most out of line tempers. What it will take is for promoters, drivers, and fans to realize this is no longer the 1950’s and what was once acceptable isn’t any longer. To not acknowledge and find a solution to these actions is simply not an option.
Thanks for hearing me out. Please keep the Ward family and Tony Stewart in your prayers. And please do NOT purchase “I support Smoke #14” t-shirts. For someone to try to profit off a tragedy is totally classless.