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Burk finally realizes that you can’t cure stupid
OK, I’m giving up. I’m turning in my keyboard crew chief card. I am no longer going to use this space to rant and rave about safety or the cost of racing. It’s getting nowhere and I’m tired of the backlash.
Ever since the day after Darrell Russell died in a Top Fuel incident at St. Louis I’ve been on a rant about safety. The deaths of Eric Medlen and Scott Kalitta just kept my fires stoked. I knew both of those men and it pained me when they died. So I kept the pressure regarding safety on the sanctioning body and the tracks.
But I got to thinking about my passion for safety when I got a call the other day from a friend of mine in the nitro racing business. He told me that a respected and very successful Top Fuel crew chief that I know fairly well was pissed off at me for suggesting that restricting nitro cars to a single mag and single fuel pump was one possible solution to the speed and safety problem that has forced the NHRA to shorten the track to 1,000 feet for Top Fuel and Funny Car.
As I understand it, this crew chief is sick and tired of me screwing around with his livelihood by making “ignorant” suggestions about something he thinks I don’t know enough about to have an intelligent thought. Perhaps he is right. That got me to thinking about the whole safety issue and my involvement in it.
When Darrell Russell was killed the class was having horrible issues with tires. Darrell had a tire failure that caused his crash. We all knew that at the time. Yet Connie Kalitta and Don Schumacher opted to finish the race and let their drivers race on tires they later admitted were suffering failures. And their drivers willingly got into those cars and raced them.
If you step back and look at the whole racing deal objectively, the fact is that most team owners, crew chiefs and drivers have accepted that race cars are dangerous and driving them is a dangerous job and that the cost of racing a nitro car is absurd. Many of the drivers I’ve known over my nearly 40 years as a racer and journalist have died racing and I know some guys who bankrupted themselves financing their racing. I can’t think of a single one who was forced to drive or own a race team.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once more: You can’t be a victim if you volunteer.