The Midwest has just lost a one-of-a-kind racer, car owner, crew chief, and all-around hell of a good friend to many, Bud St. Amant. The friendship and willingness to help others was second to none. I just think if you do your homework and check into this there is a very good story here that people will love to read. There are a lot of people in NASCAR who raced in the Midwest that know of him. There is a good story about a good guy here to be told.
—Chuck McDonald; Etna, OH
Chuck, thanks for writing in about Bud. He was certainly a great racer, crew chief, and race car guy, and we know he will be missed. Unfortunately, we are hearing stories a lot more often about the old time racers we are losing. The young guys coming up through the ranks really need to understand where guys like Bud came from and the true impact they have on our sport.
I was looking at your website researching a Sportsman Driver named Dion Naples. He has raced in the past at Orange County and Bethel Motor Speedway. I would like to see a profile on this driver. Also, do you know when and where Neon Dion will be racing this year?
Thank you for your time and assistance.
—Lisa A. McIntosh
Lisa, Dion will be competing in the GRIT Racing Series at Orange County Speedway, starting with the Hard Clay 25 on March 23. You can find all the info you need on Dion and where he will be racing on his Facebook page. We found it by searching his name in Google.
Danica and The King
I recently read a story on the Internet that Richard Petty had some things to say about Danica Patrick as a driver. I know she hasn't done the best in NASCAR, but don't you think he is a little out of line with his comments? I mean, she did qualify on the pole at The 500 last year. That's pretty impressive for a girl, right? I mean, I know a lot of guy racers that couldn't do that. I'm not a huge Danica fan, but when she's bashed like this for no reason it kind of bugs me. What do you guys think?
—Ashley Oliver; Montrose, PA
Ashley, I saw the article you're talking about. While the King's words may have been harsh I have to wonder just how off base they actually are. My comment has nothing to do with the fact that Danica is a female. We come across some phenomenal female drivers on regular basis. We also feel that racing is due for a strong female driver to race her way to a championship. I would just have to say we share the King's opinion that it isn't Danica.
Sure, Danica qualified upfront for Daytona, but given the circumstances, it's hard not to qualify well with the best of the best in terms of equipment, and no one else on the track (like Richard Petty said). When the race started, she shuffled her way to the back and proved the naysayers right.
Do I think Danica is talented? Yes. Do I think she is ever going to win a championship? Probably not. And again, that has nothing to do with her being a woman. Man, woman, boy, girl, race car drivers are race car drivers. When the helmet goes on everything is equal, and Danica hasn't done much to impress us.
Raped In The Name Of Safety—Part 2
I'd like to add to Rob Fisher's reply to the letter "Raped in the Name of Safety" in "Pit Board" of the May '14 issue.
I'm a chaplain at a local track and I also work in the underwriting side of the insurance industry. Anytime that you deal with safety equipment a huge portion of the product price covers the liability insurance. Suing manufacturers of safety equipment keeps many, many lawyers in business. You might say that each head-and-neck restraint comes with its own lawyer attached to it. If there is the slightest hint that a safety product might not have done its job, and even if it isn't even involved, but the manufacturer has "deep pockets," lawyers will be lining up to sue the company. The liability and product failure policies for these products, particularly for those in racing, drive up costs many times more than component prices do. A successful lawsuit involving one safety product, say, drivers seats, will reverberate through the racing safety product industry in the form of increased premiums.
So, it may well be market factors causing the prices to rise—or fall, but the liability insurance market is responsible for the majority of it. For that, thank the trial lawyers.
—Jim Zeirke; Sussex, WI
Jim, there is no question that there is a huge amount of liability for racing manufacturers, especially in the racing safety world. There are always costs involved that the consumer doesn't know about (engineering, testing, certification, legal liability). Long story short, the prices are presumably what they are for reasons other than the owners of the companies sitting back trying to make millions. I think these companies spend the time and money developing the products they do because they see a void in the market and honestly want to keep the racers safer.
The good news is, as technology advances, competition rises, and companies sell more units and recover some of the ignition investment, prices will come down and the right equipment will become more affordable. Unfortunately, it just takes time. Fortunately, as HNRs become more popular and mandated by more series, drivers will be safer on track. Also, as technology advances, the equipment itself will get better and better, and whether its simply having a head-and-neck restraint or having a better one as they come out, hopefully the fatality numbers Jim Downing spoke about will decline significantly.