Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Oh, The Emotion

by Tammy

Saturday was a particularly interesting day around racing for the emotion stirred up in a bunch of directions.

First, I felt shock and concern hearing about and then watching the violent accident Tim Bergmeister had at Fuji Speedway in a Porsche he was sharing with his brother Joerg (who I know slightly). He basically smacked a metal guardrail with the driver's door of his car at very, very high speed (link here if you want to see it, I'm not going to embed the video). The impact tore the door off the car, leaving the viewer able to see the driver with legs and arms at rest, not on pedals or the wheel. Tim is apparently all right, though there's some concern over the state of one lobe of his lung (fractured rib punctures, I believe).

Then the racing world held its breath watching Eric McClure go hard into the inside wall at Talladega. I can't be the only person who had flashbacks to Las Vegas in October. In this instance, the first scary moment was not seeing his window net come down. Then there were the swarms of workers around the car, and the cutting of the windscreen and peeling back of the roof. Finally the careful extraction of the driver onto a back-board and the rushing him to the life-flight helicopter.

McClure seems to be fine. There's been no real word on injuries, but there's been plenty of assurance the he was alert and talking to workers at every step along the way.

The universal reaction after the sigh of relief upon learning he'd be OK, was to say "thank goodness for HANS devices (above), SAFER barriers (at right, at Daytona), the Car of Tomorrow (NASCAR's redesign in part for safety), and big, protective seats." Agreed. I couldn't help but think that back in Dale Earnhardt's day, this crash would have killed McClure. Or Earnhardt's crash today wouldn't have killed him.

Then there was the melodrama and the petty feuds. In the heat of the last lap (the second two-lap-shootout to try to end the race, after the first one ended with McClure's crash and a lengthy red flag), Hornish pushed Danica into the wall (because of a tire going flat, apparently) and she retaliated by nudging him into the wall after the checkers.

Much was made in the Twitterverse of what a diva she is, that this is why people hate her. Many questions were asked about why she wasn't called to the NASCAR hauler and put on probation like Kyle Busch was for intentionally wrecking someone under yellow last year. (Beaux Barfield, IndyCar director of competition, made a good point in a Tweet: partly the decision whether to penalize or even reprimand is based on a pattern of behavior, or history; to extrapolate further, Danica doesn't have a track record for that, KyBu does.)

There was a lot of emotion swirling around about both events in the Nationwide race, with some people on Twitter making borderline offensive statements, others taking offense, still others defending, and on and on and on. Somewhere in that feed, I saw a quoted tweet in which someone had said to Ryan Truex, a driver in the race, "I hope you get hurt." Fortunately, this was making the rounds with "wtf?" kinds of comments and chastisement. (I'm still not sure why that was directed at Ryan Truex, unless he started one of the accidents?)

Now, I know this stuff happens. Sterling Marlin got death threats after starting the slide that sent Dale Earnhardt into the wall to his death. I'm writing a bit about similar passionate fan reaction in my second manuscript. But honestly ... I didn't expect to actually see it pop up in Twitter! When I write scenarios in my fiction, I figure I'm starting with real events and exaggerating them a WHOLE LOT.

But then, they say, truth is always stranger than fiction.

What did you all think about the accidents, reactions, and emotions this weekend?

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