The old country song used to opine “I’ll hate myself tomorrow for lovin’ you tonight.” For the metal fan, Def Leppard declared “love bites, love bleeds, it’s bringing me to my knees.” Such lyrics may well apply to when to comes a driver’s passion for racing. The love and the need for speed is sure hurting a pair of NASCAR drivers right now.
Tony Stewart breaks his leg , Martin Truex Jr. breaks his wrist, Denny Hamlin hurts his hand- only adding to the list his list of injuries. Any trolls out there who want to say all the safety measures have declawed motorsports? Um, I think not.
Thankfully, we don’t see nearly as much dying on the track as we once did. One death is still one too many. What happened to Smoke and then death of Jason Leffler serve to remind us how dicey things can get in a Sprint car. There’s no getting around the danger of hitting big, stationary objects (like walls) while traveling at high speeds. Machines can get twisted up, and catch bodies up in the wreckage. Heavy, fast machines can become projectiles. This racing business isn’t for sissies.
It might just make you wonder why a driver who has been through what Hamlin has this season keeps on going. While there are obligations and sponsor commitments, I’m quite sure if Denny begged off- given the circumstances under which he suffered a busted back- that Joe Gibbs and Fed Ex would have given him pass. If you’ve got the bug, if you have the love for racing, you’re willing to take the chance.
You and I might not. No one ever accused race car drivers of being cautious or sane. The truth is, you have to be an adrenaline junkie and a half bubble off of plumb to do what these guys and gals do. It’s weird to think of how you don’t see these guys howling in pain, even when they’ve taken a hard lick. You know they once hooked up a bunch of stuff to the great David Pearson once, and they said his blood pressure actually went LOWER behind the wheel.
We mere mortals may not quite understand the passion that leads an aching driver to keep pushing on in spite of the pain. I can speak to it a little as a runner. Having run through a myriad of aches and pains, I can tell you it’s just too hard to sit for too long. The urge to compete, to push yourself is too great. If still doesn’t make sense, I understand.
Sometimes…..love hurts. J. Geils once sang “love stinks.” I wouldn’t disagree. It does sometimes.