Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Untimely End of Jimmy the Saint

For many years because of my ability to get lost at anytime while driving (to include backing out of the garage), I thought road rallies were a sport tailor-made for me. For the purists, I have no idea if it's really sport (and don't care). I love the idea that bowling is a sport, not because I like to drink beer, but because I adore the rainbow brite footwear collection (and who cares what color your socks are!). I just realized the Red Sox must be all bowlers (never heard of Rally Beer, probably a micro-brew). I always thought baseball players were golfers.

I mention racing cars because of the death Sunday of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon. There are some suggesting it will impact his sport the way Dale Earnhardt's death affected NASCAR. I don't pretend to know because neither is a sport I follow. Ditto for all the variations and permutations, to include sprint karts, motorcycles and pickup trucks (there's just something a little too stereotypical about pickup races in my mind. I'm the very bigot I mock.).

Wheldon was very successful and was well-liked by his peers, friends and competitors alike. By all accounts he loved what he did for a living-how many of us can say that-and he was a bright enough man to both understand and accept the risks and dangers his employment could produce. It's reasonable, to my way of thinking, to believe his family never fully reconciled themselves to every aspect of his profession and now, of course, never will.

As I said, I don't follow the sport(s) and have watched in my life of nearly six decades probably less than 90 seconds of footage on any of these. We have Speed on our cable TV line-up because, like the photos in the high end furnishings store, it came with the frame-I don't know its channel, though I imagine clicking on the TV program guide and reading "7-11. Racing from Hooterville. Four hours of left turns interrupted by pit stops. 12-4 PM. Marseilles Grand Prix. Hooterville with French sub-titles." I'm being very unkind (and you are not surprised). I recognize there's more to this than that; there are tire changes, lots and lots of tire changes.

Unlike football where injuries resulting in grievous and permanent damage are (far) less than common, auto racing, while it feeding our need for speed (no matter our age), owes some of its appeal to the nerven-kitzel of 'I wonder what might happen?' Do I think its fans tune in for the collissions and crashes? No, but they are part of the sport and are included in any and every strategy of all successful racers.

For those affected by the ripples in the pond that was Dan Wheldon's life, nothing will ever be the same and nothing can ever be put right. And for a while, those on the periphery who tune in to watch auto racing or who follow the results in their local newspaper will pause when his name is mentioned. But as time goes by, the pauses will grow shorter-it's the nature of our life and times as we resume normal speed until only those who loved him at the beginning will remember him beyond the end.

'Well the blaze and noise boy, he's gunnin' that bitch loaded to blastin' point. He rides head first into a hurricane and disappears into a point. And there's nothin' left but some blood where the body fell and nothing' left that you could sell. Just junk all across the horizon. A real highway man's farewell. And he said, 'hey kid, you think that's oil? Man, that ain't oil, that's blood.'"
-bill kenny


Adam Kenny said...

One would think that when the men and women who earn their living driving the cars that compete in the races that you organize tell the people who run Indy Car Racing that they are 'afraid' of the track in Las Vegas because of the ability to achieve scary-fast speed, the people at Indy Car Racing would listen.

Maybe now they shall.

dweeb said...

Classic Abiline Paradox scenario that cost a decent human being his life because we forgot, again, that Silence Kills.