Monday, July 25, 2011
Kasey Kahne's R&R: Risky racing, and that's OK
By Eddie Gossage
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was off last weekend, and for a lot of drivers it was time for a little R&R. One driver went to Spain. Another to France. Jeff Gordon went on a charitable trip to the Congo.
Kahne loaded up his sprint car racing team for some World of Outlaws action at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Action is exactly what he got. He was running in the second heat race Friday night -- the opening night of the Summer Nationals -- when another driver began sliding up the track inside of him. The two made contact and Kahne went tumbling over the guardrail.
Actually, he went over the catch fence, completely out of the speedway. (See video above)
It was quite a spectacular crash. Luckily, Kahne walked away unhurt. He tweeted later: "Got wiped out in my heat race tonight. Haven't flipped like that in a long time!"
Talk about risky business. And not just for Kahne, but also others invested in him. I wonder how Rick Hendrick feels about that. Here’s Hendrick investing millions of dollars into Kahne’s Sprint Cup career, and the driver was exposing himself to potential injuries.
My opinion? Bless him. I admire Kahne and drivers like Carl Edwards and those who race at Eldora with Tony Stewart every year. They're race car drivers who love to race. My favorite event is the Slinger Nationals in Wisconsin, which Kyle Busch won last year. If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain. How cool is that?
At some point, they are going to get hurt. That’s racing. Is that worth being locked in a closet? I don’t think so, and I hope their owners never come down on them for participating in these events outside of their Sprint Cup careers.
I worked with Bobby Allison for years, and he was that kind of racer. He raced 50-60 races a year and his worst crash actually happened in 1976 at a short track in Elko, Minn. He hit a concrete abutment and the front of the car was completely pushed in. The motor caved into the firewall and the steering column was shoved into his face, leaving him with multiple serious injuries. He was in intensive care for five days.
The following week, Allison still managed to qualify and run one lap to get his points at Nashville. After all, he was in a battle for the Winston Cup championship. He painfully managed to finish the season in fourth place.
There is a lot more money at stake these days, so I wouldn’t doubt that investors in the sport see these drivers a risk. But what do you do? These are the guys who are growing the sport. If you take away the risk, you risk slowing the progression of the sport.