Tony Stewart has decided to pull out of the race at Plymouth Speedway, after last weekend racing incident.
Here is the statement released by Plymouth Speedway officials, “We at Plymouth Speedway express our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Kevin Ward Jr. and thoughts and prayers to Tony Stewart and his family. Tony Stewart will not be racing at Plymouth Speedway this Saturday. More information on this weekend’s race will be announced later this week.”
The truth is Stewart brings media to the local tracks and money comes with the bigger crowds at events that NASCAR drivers do attend. For a driver to race and better a NASCAR caliber driver it means a lot, but racing like any sport is full of emotion and adrenaline that bubbles over when an on-track incident occurs. All have seen a driver throw a helmet at a car in the heat of the moment, but many don’t go into the oncoming way of the racecars. Under caution the cars still go about 30-40 mph.
While deaths in NASCAR amass big headlines, realistically more drivers die every year at our local tracks. It is estimated that more than 100 people have died across the country at short track events since 2001 but numbers are hard to obtain due to little or no media attention or remote areas of the tracks. On average 22 people die each year in the U.S. alone for Auto Racing, that’s 22 people we hear little to nothing about.
All NASCAR sanction race tracks have made it mandatory to have some form of the SAFER barriers in place. The SAFER barrier is a system of steel beams cushioned by energy absorbing foam. But this isn’t true of most local raceways that rely on a concrete and steel barriers system.
NASCAR also has strict rules on the seat construction, installation of seat belts, window netting and it requires all of the drivers to wear an approved head and neck restraint or HANS device, as it is known as, whereas smaller local raceways leave that option up to the driver.
Dirt tracks themselves are known as the cheaper alternative for racing, but many drivers feel the exhalation of racing on dirt challenging, cars do not follow the usual principles of driving on asphalt.
While the future for Stewart may be uncertain, Stewart needs to focus on himself, his healing. It is not easy to be a part of any on track incident especially one that causes a loss of life. Racing is not easy and it takes a good mindset to focus on the track.
But one thing is for certain accidents happen in racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted on Sunday, ‘We will all lose someone in our time.’