TAMMY: One piece of news to come out of the racing world this week (though almost a footnote in the story of the wild IndyCar final race and championship) was that AJ Allmendinger, former open-wheel and NASCAR driver, was reinstated as eligible to race again, after completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. In very short order, it must be said. (Bob Pockrass tells the full story well. Photo from Allmendinger's Web site.)
Allmendinger's story is that he accepted what he thought was an energy pill from (what he thought was) a friend, and it turned out to be Adderall, a psychostimulant made up of amphetamine and another -amine. A banned substance. He was suspended for a positive drug test back at the end of June, and reinstated this week. The word around the oil can is that there are no more rides missing drivers for NASCAR next year, so he may need to go back to open-wheel (IndyCar at this point) to race at a top level. He's indicated he's open to that, and I saw one rumor saying Penske (who employed him in NASCAR) might be willing.
I'm glad for Allmendinger if he's innocent as described and able to pull out of this. I only know of one top-tier racer drummed out for drugs (Jeremy Mayfield), and in general, I find it hard to fathom the idea of racecar drivers messing themselves up with drugs. I mean, they're driving precisely and on the ragged edge of control. Why add something (besides caffeine) to that mix? But I suppose (I don't know, obviously) that being on drugs can make you feel like you can do no wrong.
So my question is, how many drivers and teams do you know of involved in drugs in one way or another? There's "involved with" that means taking them, and there's "involved with" that means smuggling. And I know Simon's got an opinion, as well as a storyline in Hot Seat, about the latter. So what's your input, Simon?
SIMON: Actually, I forgot about AJ case (sorry, AJ), because I was mulling over the idea of drug taking and racing for an upcoming Aidy storyline the other day. I was thinking that we know about people bending the rules to make a car go faster, but not the driver. I was thinking about a drug to make a driver more focused, because motor racing is one of those sports where it's hard to see how doping would help an athlete. So to that end, I know only of two drugs-related motor racing cases. Two guys from Chip Ganassi's Nascar team were busted for trafficking last year and so was a team boss in the UK called Vic Lee, who was twice busted for trafficking. I don't know of drug taking drivers. I know drivers have been busted for DUI and that will get your racing license revoked (but not in the US). James Hunt had a drug and drink problem, but not while he was driving. On the whole, drivers are a clean living bunch. :-)
TAMMY: I think I agree with you, Simon. I just can't imagine drivers throwing drugs into the mix, unless it's steroids to beef up their endurance and muscles to handle the G forces? Hmmm ... there's an idea.
Anyone else know of other cases or good drugs for us fiction writers to use and real drivers to avoid?