One common theme that has continuously been brought up here in our little racing world is “slowing down” cars. My question is… WHY? Isn’t that what racing is all about? Going fast?! I know for a fact that the people with the fastest cars out there in the Mini Stock division last year worked night and day on both their cars AND their driving in order to go that fast. One driver in particular, I helped out at a couple of practices, where he posted some lap times that would have seemed unheard of in the Mini Stock division a couple of years ago. He worked very hard on his car, but also took advantage of every practice and track rental that came up to ensure he got the seat time needed to improve himself. Throughout every race in the season, he was NEVER involved in a single accident. Sure, he got a few scratches here and there… but that’s racing. He is a prime example that speed is NOT a bad thing, but a good thing. It makes for exciting racing for both the drivers and the fans.
To say that SPEED was the primary cause of the accidents in the Mini Stock division last year, I, along with many others, would have to disagree. I’m not an expert in all things racing, I have a lot to learn, and therefore I will not claim to be an expert. But, I will say that it was not necessarily speed that caused accidents, it was carelessness. Whether that carelessness was some rookie learning mistakes, certain individuals trying to win 30 lap features within the first few laps, or whether it was just plain bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even a combination of those… it was carelessness through and through. Changing speeds is not going to make these incidents any less likely. Saying speed was the prime cause of all accidents and slowing the cars down is like telling the people who work extremely hard on their cars and themselves that their hard work means nothing and that they’re not allowed to do what race cars do. It is not fair to allow simple mistakes, carelessness, or a learning curve to chase away some of the most exciting and most talented drivers in the class. Don’t get me wrong, safety is what is most important, and if valid changes need to be made to ensure that everyone is safe, then there should be no arguments towards that. However, the word “VALID” is the key word there. Unnecessary or unfair changes made in the rules are not going to affect the overall safety; it’s only going to affect car count and therefore fan support. Believe me, when you’re going straight into a solid cement wall, no matter the speed, it’s going to knock you around a bit. In 2010 I was going around corner three when my a-frame broke and I was taken straight into the cement wall. In 2011 Clay Wagner was going around corner one when he moved up to avoid a spinout and had one of his tires cut from another car, sending him straight into the wall. After my accident, I was sore and had bruising all over my upper body from my safety equipment. After Clay’s accident, his body was much the same. I know for a fact that Clay was going A LOT faster than I was. So with that being said, how can one say that SPEED makes things more dangerous and causes worse accidents? No matter what speed we’re going at, we’re going to be prone to accidents, just as a regular car is on the street... the difference is we pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for safety equipment that protects us amazingly. Every driver out there knows the risks of signing up for this sport and everyone is bound to have something happen to them at some point in time in their racing career. One of my favourite racing quotes illustrates that perfectly:
“To achieve anything in this game you must be prepared to dabble in the boundary of disaster.” – Sterling Moss
The harder a driver pushes their car, the more at risk of anything they are going to be. There is no driver that does NOT push themselves and their car each night to achieve their goals and better themselves. Therefore, the risk is always going to be there... no matter the speed.
You may agree or disagree with my opinion, and you have as much right to that as I have in having the opinions that I do. But something needs to be looked at to avoid losing some great drivers and fans from such an exciting class, all based on the concept of “slowing down” the cars. I remember before I drove in the Mini Stock class, I would hear people talk about how boring it was and how much they did not enjoy it. It seems as though last year, that completely changed. I heard nothing but good things from everyone about how much more exciting the class was and how enjoyable to watch it had become. I even heard many people say it was one of the BEST divisions to watch in the 2011 season and I know that no one wants anything different to be said about such a great class in 2012 and the many years to come. So let's do what we can do and should do to make sure that continues to happen.
With that being said, there’s only 123 days until opening day! GET EXCITED!! :D
- - Haley