I’ve been a race fan as long as I can remember. I grew up in the shadows of the old Raceway Park in south suburban Calumet Park. From my childhood home on 123rd Street you could hear the rumble of the cars on the nearby track.
To some people it was noise, to me it was music.
In the summer during the 4th of July parade you could stand on 124th Street and some of the race cars would be in the parade, handing out flyers and posters. I would keep them and have them on my wall in my room.
But its weekends like this past one when being a fan of racing is difficult.
As most of you know IndyCar veteran Justin Wilson was hit in the head by bouncing debris from a crash in front of him in Sunday’s race at Pocono. But since IndyCar is “open wheel”, he was struck by the remnants of the front of Sage Karam’s car.
Justin has passed Monday evening in a Pennsylvania hospital as I write this. I’m not sure anything could have prepared him for this.
When you race you know its dangerous and even to us fans who sit close, it’s dangerous, you know it but you don’t let it cloud your vision or love for the sport.
I’ve done a 150MPH drag run at Route 66 dragway a few years ago, when you strap in you don’t think about crashes but when I unstrapped I thank the Good Lord I made my run in one piece.
We’ve seen the best of racers taken from us, Ayerton Senna & Jules Bianchi in Formula 1, Dale Earnhardt Sr, & Adam Petty in Nascar, Dan Wheldon in Indycar, Eric Medlen, Darrell Russell & Scott Kalitta IN NHRA Drag racing.
It pains me to write those names, each of those guys was a great driver whom died on the track. It was someone we followed, maybe even idolized and then they were gone.
Usually more safety precautions and better equipment come from accidents but unfortunately it takes a driver (or fans), being hurt or killed to push the safety envelope.
The first thing in any accident is what could have been done to prevent it?
Remember these guys are going over 150 miles an hour to over 300 miles per hour, its not like a street accident we have yet the injuries can be horrific and life can be lost.
I’ve been in a multiple car accidents but the most serious was nine years ago that totaled my 2002 Chevrolet Malibu and I walked away, grateful, scared and shaken.
Each of the major series of racing has tons of safety precautions and mechanisms in the car and on the track.
But sometimes like with Justin it’s just a freak accident, something you never think about but no less sad.
In racing sometimes you take the safe cars for granted, people crash, they climb out, they go to the infield care center to get checked out. Everything is good and they are on TV doing and interview and walk away.
But then some afternoons someone doesn’t walk out and then you realize how dangerous this sport is.
Justin we will never forget your work, the effort you made in testing cars and your legacy will go on.
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Filed under: Sports