Back in July when Smoke went end-o at Southern Iowa Speedway and snapped his lower leg in half, the motorsports world was abuzz with the consequences of the event. Prior to the wreck Stewart sat 11th in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points and was running well enough to make the Chase for the Championship. The wreck ended those hopes and people started asking questions. Would Stewart keep racing Sprint Cars? Would his NASCAR sponsors, disappointed with the no Chase scenario, take their marketing dollars elsewhere? And more, but lost in all of the hubbub of what if scenarios was the fact that Stewart’s team would go back and dissect the pile of Sprint Car now sitting in their shops to find out exactly what happened, how the car reacted and how they can make it safer for the future.
And that, my friends, is why Tony’s wreck is good for short track racing. You cannot argue Stewart’s influence over motorsports…driver, car owner, track owner, promoter. In racing, Stewart does it all. So when the team draws their conclusions about their accident we will all benefit from what is learned. Whether those conclusions are minor or major in their impact is largely irrelevant. Every little bit we learn about how to make our sport safer is a step forward in the right direction.
It is very easy for us, as race car drivers, to get complacent about safety. Let’s face it, to climb into a race car, any race car, you have to have certain personality traits. Call those traits what you want—daredevil, thrill seeker, risk taker. The point is that as a group we are more than fine with putting our bodies in harm’s way…if we weren’t we wouldn’t be doing it. And sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. How many people do you know who left the head-and-neck restraint in the trailer only to go out during practice and stuff it into the wall and get hurt? I know several.
We’ll never make auto racing 100 percent safe and accident free but we can try. I don’t want to sit here and sound like your mother. I just want you to think about safety as your ticket to having a long and, hopefully, winning career in short track racing. After all, it’s pretty hard to race from a hospital bed.
In order to even attempt to reach that 100 percent we have to look at safety from a different direction. Your safety behind the wheel really begins with the foundation of your race car, which is one reason why I am so excited about this issue. The cover story this month is all about a new option for building race car chassis. It’s called Docol and it comes from Indianapolis metals supplier AED Motorsports. The story starts on page 34, check it out. I think it will open your eyes.
The metals story isn’t the only thing in this issue that will help get your game straight for the upcoming season. This issue also houses our giant Oval Track Buyer’s Guide. This is our annual guide that lists every manufacturer and distributor of oval track racing components. It is literally the only reference point you need to get your shopping lists ready for the new season. The companies are divided into categories and sub-categories that are listed alphabetically. For example, you’ll find Crane Cams listed under both Camshafts and Ignition (because it does both). Also the companies that are highlighted in red are current Circle Track advertisers. When making your purchasing decisions, Bob, Pete, and I would appreciate it if you considered their products first. After all, it is pretty hard to produce a magazine with all of our great tech without our advertisers who help pay the bills.
Finally this month I’d like to say I hope each and every one of you had the season you were hoping for. Racing takes a lot of hard work and sometimes the rewards can be few and far between. We here at Circle Track appreciate what you guys and gals do week in and week out. If you’re hunting for that first top ten, first top five, first win, or 10th championship keep digging; it will come with dedication and desire. Oh yeah, remember, go fast & turn left.