Love Bites For NASCAR Drivers

by Jim on August 30, 2013 · 7 comments

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… hurts. J. Geils once sang “love stinks.” I wouldn’t disagree. It does sometimes.

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1 BrianFitz September 1, 2013 at 5:08 am

I DO like the things you are trying to point out in this article Jim but it took me a few minutes to get my head unraveled from the 1st paragraphs poor grammar and inconsistences.
” Such lyrics may well apply to when to comes a driver’s passion for racing ” (when it comes to a driver’s)
Then the next line you talk about “a pair of drivers” and then you mention 3 different ones…..(several)
“and then death of ” (and then the death of)

….but then us hicks from Noth Carolineah caint talk too purdy netiher….
ya’ll keep ‘em straight out there, ya hair me…

NOTE : I once road a bicycle with a broken ankle that I got in a car wreck and I persevered thru the pain….hey don’t laugh… it was actually hard as heck only being able to push the pedals with one foot…and then waiting for it to come back around…I had to wreck and fall off the bike to stop too…actually twice…but dang it I made it to the beer store and back….it was also quite hard to hold onto the handlebars …see I was carrying my crutches at the time too…I’ll have to dig ya up a picture of that…

2 Vicki September 1, 2013 at 5:50 am

I totally can’t relate, having always been a chicken about danger (although I do have a pretty high pain threshold). That’s why I love watching these guys so much. You respect and admire that which you lack. Closest I ever came to enduring pain for my craft was typing my column with a jammed finger!

3 Jim September 2, 2013 at 7:02 am

@B-Ftiz- That’s o.k. I think you got the picture, even if I was a little circular in presenting it. The gist is: 1. Sometimes we love doing things that aren’t always good for us, but we do them anyway. 2. No matter how much safer motorsports are now, it’s still dangerous. 3. Because of that, the driver is to be respected for soldiering on, even in pain.

4 Jim September 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

@Vicki- There is something to be said for self-preservation. Certainly my day job is far from dangerous, however sports-wise, I’ve pushed the envelope, paid for it, but kept on going.

5 Keith Mangrum September 2, 2013 at 7:26 am

Jim, As a former dirt track racer, I have to say you hit the nail on the head! It’s an adrenaline rush like no other! I was very lucky in my career not to get hurt very bad, although I credit a lot of my aches and pains now to the abuse I endured from some of the injuries I encountered. HOWEVER, I would do it all again in a heartbeat! It’s something that can’t be explained unless you have experienced it!

6 Jim September 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

@Keith- Thank you kindly. It’s always great to hear from someone who “lived the trip.”

7 Vicki September 2, 2013 at 9:08 am

And because of that attitude, Martin Truex Jr is probably in the Chase!

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