The Dark Side of Motor Racing

BianchiSome will give me grief for going here (too soon and all of that) but I am sufficiently bothered so here goes. Tributes to Bianchi are deserved, respectful and somber, as they should be. Almost conspicuous by its absence, however, are fellow participants crapping all over a series and a sport that allows them to ply their trades. There is no mass hysteria or rush to judgement about speculative causes. No urgency to solve perceived problems.

When contrasted against the equally tragic death of Dan Wheldon the silence is deafening. Both died as the result of freak accidents in racing. One striking difference about respective aftermaths is absence of the cacophony of mostly meritless criticism that spewed forth before Wheldon’s body even got cold.

Now that Jules Bianchi sadly passed why are there not panicked, shrill yelps to ban this or change that to sanitize the sport? Is Formula One immune from criticism? In many ways it seems some have convinced themselves Formula One is not dangerous. Turns out it can be. Bianchi’s ultimate death could definitely have been prevented. But where is the outcry?Danny Boy Suggested hysteria as justification to ban things using the same twisted, rationalized logic that eliminated IndyCar at Vegas:  1) No more racing at Suzuka. 2) No more racing on natural terrain courses because they are not immune from death. 3) Racing while it’s raining? Are you crazy!? 4) We need to slow down F1 cars by about 50 mph. 5) While we’re at it how about no more street courses since there are fences and trees and people are near those fences. 6) Racing while there are tractors near the circuit must be banned. 7) Hell, why not just stop racing altogether? It is just too dangerous.

Sound ridiculous? It is. So is the double standard. How many tracks has IndyCar been forced away from due to either accidents or fear something MIGHT happen? Why does that not happen in any other series in which death or other mayhem are possibilities?

Pack racing in NASCAR is not considered dangerous until one driver kills another or a car penetrates the fence and either kills fans or comes close. Even IMS is touting aero changes to Cup cars to enable closer racing during the Brickyard 400. Yet ‘pack racing’ only seems bad when it involves IndyCars, and has had its definition (which is subjective to begin with) twisted to include essentially all oval racing that is not single file.

Sorry. It just pisses me off.

RIP Jules Bianchi.

20 replies to “The Dark Side of Motor Racing

  1. (Two instances of pointless, defensive, repetitive, name-calling ranting relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

  2. I’ll say it. For some reason, years back, IndyCar developed a contingent of pussies in it’s fan base. A sanctimonious group who think it’s their job to do things like protect drivers from themselves. No safety measure is too great. We’re always living in a new age according to them, and they are the ones dragging us all into it. These people also seem to be obsessed with Dan Wheldon, years after his death, like he was a close personal friend. They hate ovals, seeing them as dangerous, antiquated, knuckle dragging pursuit for rednecks.

    This group is in the minority, but they scream loudly. Why they cling to IndyCar and don’t just gravitate to Formula 1 is beyond me. No, they’d rather do their best to make IndyCar a facsimile of F1.

    1. Yep. We’re all”pussies”.

      How dare we call for safety to be reviewed whenever there’s a terrible incident. The nerve of us who hope to be thrilled and entertained by motorsports, all while hoping and believing that the sanctioning bodies, whether it’s F1 or Indycar, NASCAR or the FIA as a whole are doing as much as possible to prevent fatalities.

      I mean it would be such a shame to have Swede Savage, Mark Donahue, Scott Brayton, Greg Moore or Ayrton Senna get old in front of us.

      1. Yes, you are. You’re the same people who lost your collective shirts over a falsely described “pack race” in which there were a grand total of 3 accidents and no injuries.

        You’re the same people who called for the cars to be slowed down at Indianapolis on pole day this year, because one car got airborne and another 2 flipped. Again, not a scratch on any of those drivers.

        The problem is that 1) You people always think you have the better mousetrap; and 2) You never know when to quit.

        Leave it to the drivers as a group, their team owners, and engineers. Why is that so hard? People die in this sport, that’s a part of it. The day you take the danger away is the day you should start having them sim race or pilot drone cars.

      2. @ Tommy: I’d almost feel sorry for you. It’s pretty clear that you have some issues understanding the written word.

        You have no clue as to what I would or would not call for, so let’s make that clear. I could care less what speeds the cars can run, so long as the speeds don’t exceed what’s safe for a given venue.

        The drivers know and understand the risks, and when they question the sanity of running the cars in certain configurations then I tend to think they’ve got a better comprehension of situation than, uh, you. And the overwhelming opinion is that they’re not on board with current practices ( NASCAR and Indycar ) when running on superspeedways.

        People die in this sport. That is true. But that doesn’t mean that the sanctioning bodies aren’t obligated to make every effort to improve safety at every track. I’ve been very fortunate to have driven club and regional races over the years, and have an amazing respect for the men and women that do it professionally. I’ll take their opinions long before yours.

        I’d like to be around to see you call one of these pro drivers “pussies” to there face. I’m sure that it would go well for you.

      3. The drivers did speak out, and after the race, less than 50% of them thought Fontana had been too great a risk. But don’t let your lack of facts get in the way of a good argument.

        Your point of view can be summed up in your statement “as long as the speeds don’t exceed what’s safe for a given venue.” That is probably the point at which you and other nancies have determined that “the speed is too great”, regardless of no one even being injured. Just like you did at Indianapolis on pole day where, once again, the drivers didn’t have a problem.

        By the way, loved your all-too-predictable sanctimony in your first reply. The one where you imply that you’re doing ‘god’s work’ by, right on cue, hopping on your high horse with the “how dare we (attempt to save driver lives)” line.

        Look man, just let it go. You people are not only insufferable, but you’re boring as the day is long. Must you take all the joy and fun out of everything?

      4. What the eff are you talking about? God’s work? When the hell did I ever imply that?

        And frankly, who cares about what happened at Indy? That’s the sanctioning bodies call. And not that you are bright enough to notice but I didn’t make any comments regarding what happened at Indy.

        I think that your math may be a bit off; it seems like there were as many drivers upset about that race ( Fontana) as there were for it. Again that’s their problem, and yours. Like I said before, they know the risks.

        Sorry for NOT wanting to see unnecessary injuries and fatalities occur; I realize that the possibility of such incidents might “take the fun out of it” for you. Tough shit, genius. Most of the rest of us aren’t a ghoul like you.

    2. @ Tommy ( aka “ghoul boy”):

      You’ll be happy to know that 2 riders died yesterday at Laguna Seca during a MotoAmerica race.

      That must be a blue ribbon day for you. TWO fatalities. No “pussification” for you, right?

      You must have wet yourself. Hopefully no one will think to look into this incident and see if anything can be done to try to make the race and/or venue safer.

      1. I see, so those of us not wanting to play nanny and hand maiden to a bunch of guys not asking for it, we’re “ghouls”? We WANT to see people die?!?

        And you wonder why I said you people were so self-righteous, sanctimonious, and horribly misguided by your own self-important compass? I mean, how do you say what you just said, yet fail to see that it makes you the embodiment of what I’m talking about.

        Again, go away, you guys are not the sport. The drivers are, and they don’t need you telling them what is good for them. And yes, when the crashes occurred at Indy this year, I can guaran-damn-tee that you were one of the people calling to slow the cars down. Just like you are no doubt calling for the end of races like Fontana, which probably occurred in large part due to ambient temperature.

        P.S. – Miller, who is in the paddock a lot more than you I’m going to guess, said that the majority of drivers did NOT have a problem with Fontana. So there’s that.

      2. Look, it’s obvious that you lack even the most basic reasoning skills, so turn off the snuff films, climb down from your self righteous, self important soapbox, and try to pay attention.

        No one is looking to play “nanny”, genius. But when a large percentage of the current drivers, and former drivers, and champions such as Rick Mears and Bobby Unser ( pussies, I know) say that the current formula is all wrong, then just maybe there’s something wrong here.

        Racing is dangerous enough without car specs that make it artificially even more so. Again ( not that you get it, but…) I could care less about the actual speeds, per se. And again, you don’t have a friggin’ clue about what I’m “calling” for, so let’s just stop listening to the voices in your head and start reading and comprehending what’s being written, ok Corky?

        Sure, Fontana was due to ambient temperature? Uh, what exactly was the result of ambient temperature? The race conditions? The crowd? It would be nice if you could put together a coherent point. If it’s the crowd your trying to say was the result of the temperature it would be helpful if you express that thought clearly. A lot to ask I know. So I’m assuming that the lousy crowds at Milwaukee, Iowa, the Angie’s list gp, Detroit and Toronto all were climate related?

        Look pal, watch whatever you want. Root for the mayhem, flips and spins etc all you want. Just try to keep away from the sharp objects, take all your meds, and stop trying to tell us what we want because frankly you can barely figure out what you want much less what someone else wants. And take a remedial reading and writing skills class.

        Later, Corky.

      3. Well, it looks like I’m firmly planted in your head, so there’s that. Moving on, I guess you don’t keep up with what people were saying regarding ambient temperatures as it relates to your alleged “manufactured” racing? But that of course doesn’t stop you from spouting off and losing your shit for all to see. I’m enjoying watching it, what in between all of my snuff film viewing. Because, as I clearly enjoy watching horrible displays, you’ll understand my sincerity when I say “please, do go on.”

      4. Enjoy getting tossed from Racer?

        In MY head? Keep dreaming Corky. But apparently I’m in yours since you can’t stop replying and taking the bait. Maybe you really are defender posting under another name; it has happened. But he usually sounds less hysterical.

        But you’re so full of yourself that you can’t even tell when you’re having your chain yanked. You’re so intent on getting the last, most “devastating” word in that you can’t even tell when someone is making fun of you.

        So keep responding. I’m pretty much done here because now you’re just boring. Or maybe you should watch “A Million Ways to Die”. And pick one for yourself and follow through. Either way, your choice Corky.

        Oh, and wipe off the drool on your chin. It doesn’t look “cool”.
        Editor’s Note: Could we please steer this conversation back to the topic? If not I’ll ship it all off to Oldtimer land.

      5. @Tommy, aka ghoul boy-

        Happy now? This weekend must have been a pants-wetter for you. Multiple wrecks, some injuries, and for you a grand slam home run-a fatality. On an oval. And better yet, he was one of those pussy road racers who always pushed for increased drivers safety. You should be frigging thrilled ghoul boy. Hopefully you’re next on the short timer list.

  3. A huge part of this post is demonstrably not true.

    “There is no mass hysteria or rush to judgement about speculative causes. No urgency to solve perceived problems.”

    You must not have been paying much attention to F1 back when this happened in October, because that’s when most of this activity happened. For most folks, there’s no reason to get all strident about improving safety now, because that already happened 9 months ago, and measures have been taken. The introduction of the “Virtual Safety Car” for this year is the main way that F1 gone about trying to avoid another Bianchi accident, though it’s hard to say if it’s successful yet, as there hasn’t been another similar situation yet to crop up this year.

    “Pack racing in NASCAR is not considered dangerous until one driver kills another or a car penetrates the fence and either kills fans or comes close.”

    Not considered dangerous by whom? Drivers? Uh, that’s not correct. Ryan Newman has taken shots at plate racing after just about every plate race since about 2010. Jimmie Johnson suggested knocking down the banking at Daytona and Talladega a couple years ago. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made some pretty pointed comments about plate racing over the years, even though he’s been very successful at it. There have been other drivers who have said things, but I think I’ve made my point here. Fans? Yeah, some of the fans don’t see a problem, but many do, and the idiotic risks involved with plate racing is one of the reasons that I don’t hardly watch NASCAR anymore. NASCAR higher-ups? Yeah, you can definitely make the case that they don’t see much problem here, as there have been near misses with cars going through the fence for years, and almost zero measures taken to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I find this last thing the most troubling, since were a car to careen through a fence now (or, more likely, one car knock down the fence and then another airborne car sail through that hole unabated), a talented litigator would be able to trot out hours of footage of airborne cars hitting fences at plate races over the years, and the implication would be that NASCAR hasn’t done much to ameliorate the risks involved with plate racing. If a bunch of fans die at a plate race (though the same probably holds true for any motor race, to be fair…just that this risk is likely highest at a NASCAR restrictor plate race, of which there are four per year), it could mean the end of the sport, as there’d probably be Congressional hearings to figure out who was to blame, and some folks would probably use it as a tool to wrap up a “wasteful, noisy, environmentally unfriendly sport” forever. There’s the rub.

    1. Pack racing continues in nascar today. Nothing has been done to prevent it. There will always be drivers whining about it except for whoever wins that day. The fans cheer when “the big one” happens, especially when those they despise are caught up in it. Race “fans” can be a truly negative and low class bunch of bottom feeders. Fans cause just as much damage to the sport as some involved. They also forget that this sport kills and is very real. The hypocrisy of one series pack racing=okay and one series pack racing =NOT okay is bullshit. It’s only a matter of time for a nascar tragedy. They’re flirting with it now.

  4. While death in racing is as deplorable as it ever was, the reason there’s such an outcry now is because it no longer happens often, so it’s a shock. I can remember the ’50’s and ’60’s when they would race in and with conditions we would find unbelievable now, and it wasn’t uncommon to lose AT LEAST three or four drivers a YEAR. The 1955 Indy 500, for example, would lose fully a THIRD of its competitors in race cars somewhere down the line. And in that same year was the Le Mans disaster, where eighty-two spectators were killed and seventy-nine injured when a car went off the track and exploded. Or at the Mille Miglia road race two years later, where fifteen spectators, standing ALONG THE ROAD were killed when a car went out of control and plowed into them. This is only the tip of the iceberg of how deadly racing was back then. My point is, we’ve come a long way where safety is concerned, and while a death in racing is still regrettable, we should put it in perspective, and if we really love this sport, we should do our best to take a positive stance and support efforts to make it even safer. Having said that, we must also realize that racing will always be dangerous to some degree, and death is always a possibility. It’s just the nature of the beast.

  5. I’m still waiting for the backlash and the piling on by media and fans from the double Moto GP fatality at Laguna Seca this past weekend. They need to stop dangerous motorcycle pack racing, and since there’s been two fatalities they need to remove Laguna from their schedule. Obviously too dangerous to race there. They have no business running there. I’m Jimmie Johnson and I know what I’m talking about.

    1. “I know what I’m talking about.”

      If that was true then you’d know that it WASN’T a MOTOGP race.

  6. World superbike, whatever. Motorcycles. Death. You got the point. See you in Victory Lane Sunday in Indianapolis.

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