Toyed with blowing some of these up into stand alone blog posts…just not enough energy so you get the cliff notes…
The Fear Has Returned…
Felt a strange feeling today as I watched the Freedom 100 – Fear.
It has never been lost on me that racing is a dangerous vocation, through my years of watching racing as a TV spectator I can recall the crashes or the broadcast discussion for the tragedies that took the lives of Scott Brayton, Jeff Krosnoff, Roland Ratzenburger, Ayrton Senna and Paul Dana. (For those of you asking – I had turned off racing due to the split when Greg Moore had his accident in Fontana) Yet understanding the potential for danger but anticipating it as a real risk, a tragedy with a non zero probability of occurrence had slipped from my psyche. Only the tragedy of Paul Dana, whose passing was more of a press release than a tragedy witnessed in live action, has occurred since I returned to racing from my “Screw ‘em both” hiatus. To me, racing had become “Safe”. Perhaps a source of unfortunate, but survivable injuries, but not a heart in your throat, fear inducing, turn your head away event.
We were in the Vegas stands the day when Dan passed. I knew I was affected at the time, but time can be a soothing influence and by March, the gut punch and sorrow of that October day was drifting away. In the opening races of the year, it was back to normal. Sitting on the green hill at Barber returned the thrill and enjoyment of racing with a sense of comfort for the participant’s well being. Racing had returned to being sanitized again.
That all went away today while watching the Freedom 100. Before the race I leaned over to Jenny and said “expect some carnage” as if all that was at risk were some pricey and soon to be obsolete junior formula cars. That changed as soon as the green flag dropped and the scream of normally aspirated engines roared into turn 1 three wide for three separate sections of the field. The sub conscious imprint Vegas left in me was opened up again, a raw nerve waiting for the poke. As the opening laps progressed, each one crazier than the previous, it was hard to watch and I know that I was not alone with that feeling. I became very worried for the safety of a set of drivers whom I share no particular attachment too.
Then the big accident happened, the noise from the crowd rose in that gasping way it does in that moment, just like at Vegas six months earlier. I sat in the seat and started checking twitter for news about drivers out of cars, thinking back to the big accident that Ana Beatriz had in 2010, realizing just how lucky I will be on Sunday to see her race again. Everybody, was Ok, the cars and the Safer barrier the greatest casualties. Then the race went green again, and the craziness wound back up.
Freedom 100’s tend to end under yellow, as did this one, and fortunately this one ended in a single car incident without driver harm being done. A sense of relief washed over me.
I wasn’t expecting this today. It was unpleasant. I realize again that Vegas has changed things. Packs of cars on ovals is more a source of dread than thrill of excitement. Can Milwaukee get here soon enough? Not sure how I will feel come Sunday. But I pray my memories on Monday will be that of a great race featuring an outstanding finish and a series of drivers will me chatting up the race in jovial terms a week from now in Detroit.***
Ok so that turned into a full fledged post…My other thought subjects are somewhat evergreen and will roll out after the race.