Sage advice from racer-writer-TV commentator, Stephen Cox.
Most of the racing world now knows that sprint car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed after being hit by Tony Stewart's car during a race this past weekend at New York's Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Volumes will be written about this incident for months to come, but a few lessons are already evident.
1. Never get out of your racecar after a crash. Unless the car is on fire, sit still and wait. Once the driver exits the cockpit, he leaves nearly everything that keeps him safe. No more roll cage. No more neck restraint. No five-point harness, no fire extinguishing system, no nothing. The driver is completely vulnerable. Ward got out of his racecar wearing a black fire suit and a black helmet in a dark corner of the racetrack. Behind him stood his black #13 racecar, which provided no visual contrast whatsoever. The dirt-racing surface was dark brown. Much of the wall behind Ward was either painted black or darkly stained from rubber and dirt. He was virtually invisible to everyone on the track. What is truly stunning is not that Stewart tragically hit Ward, but that the car just in front of Stewart was able to miss him (Chuck Hebing, #45). Even if Stewart had avoided Ward, the young man would likely have been hit by one of the other cars that were just yards behind. You simply cannot walk onto a racetrack at night in the middle of an event while wearing black from head to toe and expect any measure of safety.
penalties and no fouls – the stakes are much higher. Drivers who suffer from outbursts
of emotion must either find the discipline to restrain themselves or give up sports
and find a game that suits their temperament.
Tony Stewart made a mistake by pushing Ward's car into the guardrail. Ward made a mistake by failing to control his emotions and exiting his racecar. I'm sure both of them would do things differently now if they could.
Stephen Cox is a racer and co-host of TV coverage of Mecum Auctions (NBCSN), sponsored by: http://boschett-timepieces.com/