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Drivers Respecting Equipment

Drivers Respecting Equipment

by September 26, 2012 1 comment

*WARNING* I have a lot to say about this…

Along the racing road I’ve developed a few ‘pet peeves’. Of them, my biggest is respecting equipment. A racecar is not just a toy handed to you; it is something that takes a lot of resources to put together, so play cautiously.

A common phrase is “you are a product of your environment”. I find that fitting in this situation as my background is the reason I hold the views I do on drivers respecting equipment.

I grew up watching Frank (Kimmel) not only drive racecars, but also work at the shop with his team on a daily basis. He knew just as much (if not more) about the car as his crew. After all racing was his way of life; he grew up at the racetrack with his dad and also worked with him at an automotive repair shop.

When Frankie got involved in racing, Frank made it clear to him he had to work for it. Nothing was ever going to be handed to him, if he wanted something he had to put in the effort. I think that is among the best values parents can instill and pass on to their children – respect, sacrifice and integrity.

More recently I’ve watched Chris (Lawson) build, crew chief and drive his own car (in addition to his full time job), majority of the time with very limited help. All the while he does not complain, because this is his passion and he’ll work toward his goals. Nothing worthwhile in life is handed to you. You have to expect to work hard, which makes it significant.

Given my experiences, I believe it’s beneficial for all drivers to help their crew repair wrecked racecars and have an understanding for how much time, money and energy go into it. Those who cannot identify with the effort put in do not demonstrate the same show of respect.

It can be frustrating to watch drivers show up at a track just to drive simply because they can, and when I say ‘can’ I do not necessarily mean they have the talent to do it, but because their family has the money for them to do it. Unfortunately that is a reality.  To each their own, but to me it is disheartening to witness individuals who just do not seem to acknowledge the effort that goes into the sport and do not appreciate some of the things they are given.

Teams expect mangled sheet metal and damaged cars, it is inevitable in racing. However I think we can all agree about 50% of wrecks these days are avoidable, for various reasons. And when your car gets destroyed because of ignorance or retaliation for a racing incident, it becomes frustrating. We all can think of situations that fit these circumstances.

Wrecks that happen in this manner are what create anger amongst crew members. They are the ones who have to spend the time to fix the car that got destroyed, when the situation could have been avoided. I guarantee if you as a driver were the one spending the time and money to get that racecar back on track, you’d chose a little differently on your driving habits.

While certain wrecks are avoidable others are not. It is racing and unfortunately part of that is accidents. That is something all drivers and crew members recognize when entering the sport. After Dillon’s (Bassett) wreck at Concord, one comment I heard was “if he would not have tried to pass, then his car would not have ended up outside the racetrack.” I have to throw in that this comment came from someone who has been a part of the sport a long time, so needless to say I was dumbfounded.

I am not going to point a finger on what happened in that wreck, however point blank, you should not be there to race single file. Running in the top five having a shot at a win, I hope you do not follow the leader to the finish. With that being said, you expect to be able to race your competitors side by side with minimal damage and no intentional contact. You also expect your competitors to race smart, have awareness, and not make irrational moves to pass or block a car. So with those assumptions in mind, you should not have to hold back from passing a car to go for a win.

While some families seem to put unlimited resources into racing to fund their child’s ventures and hopes of making it to NASCAR (while we all know with enough money that is all you need to get there) not all families treat their child’s racing the same way. For example, at Bassett Racing Ronnie Sr. will do what it takes for his kids to race, which generally means he puts more hours in at his business. However, you can bet that comes with stipulations, just as Frank put on Frankie.

To start, if the boys stop respecting what their family does and gives up in order for their racing to occur, they will not be behind the wheel the next week. Also, if they were to intentionally destroy racecars (whether their own or a competitors), they can also plan on paying the consequences. They will sit on the sidelines until their car gets fixed, and you can believe their team will be in no rush.

Just because you have the means to do something, does not mean it should be taken for granted. It is a privilege. Another good example I have to relate this to is a helmet that is on display in Kasey Kahne’s merchandise store. Almost every person who visited asked “Wow, did Kasey get hurt in that wreck?” The helmet was destroyed and it looked like injury was unavoidable. Well the helmet did not get that way from a wreck, it happened after the wreck when Kasey decided to throw it. It got run over by another racecar. So yes Kasey got hurt, it hurt his wallet because his parents said they would not buy him a new helmet, he was going to fund it himself. That day he learned a valuable lesson.  

I’m not stating that all drivers whose parents can afford to race classify in a certain category. We all can think of drivers without that background that display a lack of respect as well. Nor am I stating that all drivers should have the ability to work on a car. I’m simply stating observations about showing respect.

It is a simple life principle, not just in racing. Respect the opportunities you’ve been given and respect the situations surrounding them. Not everyone has the same circumstances, so be mindful before making irrational decisions and realize what your gain may cost someone else. The most rewarding things in life come from hard work, not having things handed to you and taking them for granted.

Caitlin Tinius

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  1. Rick
    #1 Rick 26 September, 2012, 13:35

    Very well said! That one of the things I like best about local, short track racing, most of the drivers work on their own cars so they actually race each other instead of trying to take each other out.

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