Tony Stewart – Kevin Ward, Jr.
Editorial by: Dicken Wear
(Apologies for typos and errors in grammar)
While the tragedy that descended onto our Motorsports Family this past Saturday night August 9th, 2014 in Upstate NY was horrific, none of us as Motorsports Journalists can say we never saw it coming. The fact that the sanctioning bodies and race officials did nothing in the last fifty years is also not surprising. After all we lost many talented and sometimes young race drivers , (IE: Adam Petty) to deaths that could have been prevented had the Motorsports Rules makers and Track Officials acted sooner. NASCAR may have never got off their seats and moved from center had we not lost Dale Earnhardt, Sr to an incident that wouldn't have been fatal, had some simple rules from the SCCA GCR been in place in NASCAR.
We have all seen this many times, how drivers have gotten out of their cars on a “HOT” race track after they were in a racing incident that caused them to be put out of that particular race. They walk towards the driver they think put them out. Sometimes just shaking a fist, or signaling the other driver with just one finger. Sometimes things are thrown at the driver still in the car under caution or on pit road by the driver now walking or running at who he thinks is the driver at fault. We sure do have a lot of video evidence of Tony Stewart doing just that thing. Perhaps the reason he had to own his own team was so that he couldn't get fired, as might be the case when you work for a team as a driver that has to answer to sponsors. Tony won't fire himself, but maybe Mobil 1 Oil will fire SHR? I for one am switching to any other oil besides Mobil 1 in my extensive fleet of cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles and off road vehicles.
Maybe now that we have actually lost a young life to this sort of, “out of competition behavior”, perhaps now the Sanctioning bodies will add one small sentence to the Rules of Competition Handbook, stating, “All drivers must remain strapped into their Racing Vehicles with all safety gear on, until told to exit the vehicle by a Track Official, Steward, or Track Safety Worker when track area around vehicle is safe to do so, unless doing so creates a greater risk of injury or death to the Drivers”. And once the drivers exit their vehicles, they should seek safety behind any nearby safety wall, barrier, fence, or as directed by On Track Safety Personnel. But do not walk towards any any area of the Race Track or Pit Area still considered “HOT” by racing officials.
Racing incidents, injuries and deaths will continue in Motorsports. And most likely they will only be addressed after a serious injury or death of a Famous Driver, as has always been the case in the past. Lets hope this time that the loss of what could have been a Famous Race Driver one day, (Kevin Ward, Jr.) is enough to make Race Officials stand up and take notice for once. Before two or three more deaths make it a Black Eye to the sport, and then they are forced to make changes. Lets all hope and pray that all sanctioning bodies look at this tragic loss, like they should have when Adam Petty was killed and make safety changes NOW. Lets not wait until we lose another Dale Earnhardt, Sr, before something is done in the name of safety.
Dicken Wear: Motorsports Team Owner, Driver, Journalist, Engineer, Scrutineer/Safety Inspector.