I’ve been hanging around short tracks since the late 50’s – mostly between 68 and 84. I watched the “Gary and Larry Show” weekend after weekend. I saw Opperman and Patterson and all the early outlaws break into and out of USAC. I saw Jeff Gordon run the dirt. Short tracks weren’t quite as deadly as they had been a few years earlier but the specter still hung over the banks. I cannot remember a driver getting out of a wrecked car and walking across a track to confront a moving car. I think that for the most past the wrecked driver was so relieved to be unhurt that the instinct was only to get the hell over the wall or into the infield as quickly as possible. I saw a lot of fights in the pits long after the checks and the trophies were distributed.
The first time I can remember a driver getting out of a car and confronting a moving vehicle was in NASCAR. I’ve seen Tony Stewart do it several times. Last Saturday Kevin Ward Jr. did just what his hero, Tony Stewart, would have done if the situation was reversed.
I think driver safety is the single most important issue in racing today and I don’t mean to imply anything to the contrary. However, it is clear that the level of safety currently existing, even at the weekend racer level, is such that drivers have completely lost respect for the danger they encounter each and every time they strap in.
What’s missing from racing is RESPECT – respect for speed, respect for danger, respect for one another.