|‘Smoke’ living the life he loves|
|Sunday, August 18, 2013 12:00 AM|
By JIM METCALFE
I admit that I am not the greatest fan of NASCAR — there are probably four or five others that are greater than I but that is for another column! — but outside of maybe a couple of guys, I really have no problem with any of the current drivers.
They are good men and women who are trying to entertain the fans the best they can, make a good living and win races, all the while avoiding “The One” that will end their career or, perish the thought, their life.
I think there is an inherent respect for other drivers by most — unfortunately, apparently not always by all — of these people because they know all it takes is one slip-up, one mistake in judgement.
That respect came to the fore last week when Tony “Smoke” Stewart broke his leg doing what he loves to do — racing.
He missed his first race in many moons at Watkins Glen and the other drivers were very cognizant of his absence, texting, twittering and tweeting about how much he is missed the day of the race.
These men and women know that if it weren’t for current drivers like Smoke, a Jeff Gordon, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the like, or for those that set the tone in the past like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and other legendary persons, NASCAR is not what it is today.
Stewart is one of those guys that has “grown” up before out eyes.
Remember when it seemed as if he was known more for his temper than his driving prowess?
I for one like to see people choose the better way; he could have continued in that mode — who knows where he’d be had he done so? — but chose the correct fork in the road and he — and racing — is better for it.
Since I know he is one of the regular readers of this column (!!!), get well, Smoke.
As part of a racing story in the paper today, there are those that are wondering about the safety of the drivers after what happened to Stewart and to a couple of other drivers who have died on the track the last few months.
No question, these are tragedies and we hope that the powers-that-be are doing everything they can to make sure these men and women are as safe as possible.
At the same time, those men who died on the track like Jason Leffler and Kramer Williamson died doing what they loved to do: racing.
They — and their families — knew the risks and the dangers and kept plugging away, I would hope with the blessing of their families. That, I am not privy to know.
It all ties in with the current concern about football players — all players for that matter but especially the retired pros — who are suffering the effects of concussions and such.
I don’t know what the ultimate fate of this situation in the courts and such will end up but when you read stories of these men — not only regarding their brains and minds but also the damage done to backs, knees and ankles — how many would not do it again?
These guys played the game they loved from the time they were little and dreamed of playing it at the highest levels.
How many of us guys wish we had had that opportunity? They just had the chance to see it through.
In the end, you can only make “life” so safe. The rest requires faith, doesn’t it?