Sadly, racing back in spotlight

first_imgThere are so many things about March to love if you are a sports fan. This time of year is bustling with so much athletic activity it is enough to make a sports fan giddier than Barry Bonds at Rick Reilly’s funeral.There is so much to pay attention to right now in sports that if you blink you’ll miss something big (with the exception of the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team’s nearly five-hour marathon that was threatening to run on longer than Forrest Gump, in Forrest Gump).You have George Mason shocking the world and becoming the top-(under)dog of the NCAA tournament going on at the same time as UW spring practices, forcing several reporters to cling to their cell phones as if they were life preservers, yelling out updates by the minute.The World Baseball Classic was a resounding success and now makes way for the birth of the 2006 MLB season (Hoo-Ha!), while the NBA and NHL quickly wind down towards the end of their 2006 campaigns (Hoo-Ha Two Times Tuesday!).And don’t forget about Tiger and the Masters coming just around the bend, or the Badger women’s hockey team winning the school’s first national title.But you know what might be the best part about the infinite sporting events circling around us right now? The fact that racing is more overshadowed than Cooper Manning at a Manning Family reunion.That is until the death of IRL driver Paul Dana on Sunday.Let me be very up front about the fact that I hate racing. NASCAR, Formula One, IRL, whatever, you can keep them all.Let me also say that I don’t understand people who do like it. So before you start writing that letter or message saying “you just don’t get it,” save yourself the effort, because I really just do not get it.I don’t understand how stock car racing has become the largest spectator sport in America, attracting sometimes over 200,000 people to watch brightly-colored blurs do their best imitation of electrons, circling around what looks like a high-end trailer park.I don’t understand why my girlfriend’s sister and her boyfriend will pay big money to go watch a race in North Carolina, but a $20 ticket for the Frozen Tundra Classic is classified as being too expensive.But what I really don’t understand is racecar drivers.Dana, a rookie on the IRL circuit, was set to start what was maybe going to be his breakout race, as he would be starting ninth at the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During pre-race warm-ups, Dana failed to notice a spun-out racer and rammed into the car at an estimated 175 miles an hour.Tragically, the young racer’s big break didn’t even reach the green flag and even worse, he leaves behind his wife Tonya, to whom I send my utmost condolences and prayers.I just don’t get it.Why would someone do this for a living? It doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me that if you choose to make a profession out of driving vehicles at 200 miles per hour, four-plus days a week for up to 36 weeks a year, at some point, luck might catch up to you.A football player is criticized for driving over 100 miles per hour, but going 200 miles per hour for hours at a time is not only sane and okay, but admirable?These racers don’t just get up one day and start racing on Daytona either. They spend years on the amateur circuit, with safety measures matching the low-profile of the circuits and venues. They all have scares.Take Dana, who made news last year on the IRL wire when, during practice for the Indianapolis 500, he broke his back in an accident.A severe back injury made Michael Irvin walk away, but not Dana.Dana’s death is the third in the IRL since 1996 and at least the tenth since 1994 in major motorsports.I’m not advocating any kind of action, like slower speed limits or fewer cars or more safety apparel, or any of that. At some point people have to be responsible for themselves.I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s the rush of adrenaline from zooming around at near supersonic speeds, or just a love affair with cars. I’ll never know.What I do know is that I am never happier than when I am completely oblivious to the world of motorsports, so hallelujah to this bountiful season of sporting bliss.But right now, I couldn’t be less happy that not only is auto racing in my face, but because it is of yet another tragedy that to me, will always be senseless.Dave McGrath is a senior from South Florida, and naturally is majoring in driving slowly. Any questions, comments or chalktalk can be sent to [email protected]last_img

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