Faced with a probable mechanical issue, this competitor is leaving the race on a wrecker.
It's About Time
Returning to a race after an accident is generally not a thought for many weekly racers in support divisions. Their feature events are usually short, and the chance of making significant progress is usually gone. The headlining divisions and traveling shows offer longer-distance races and therefore present more opportunity for a racer to rejoin after a crash. While the driver is often imploring the team to hurry up, there needs to be an honest assessment, not a long-shot delusion of success. Long-term effects should also be considered. Fluid leaks should generally signal the end of the attempt, especially since the officials are going to send you back anyway.
Most tracks and series want to give the competitors every opportunity to get the most of their racing experience, but they have to look at the big picture. If the car represents a threat to safety or another competitor, it will not be allowed on the track. There will be another race at another time, but, like it or not, the reality of the situation means it's not your day.
Knowing it's not your day doesn't hold any consolation. If it's because of driver error and you were the driver, it's one thing. If it's because of driver error on behalf of another person, you're finding it a bit harder to swallow.
Most on-track incidents seldom evolve into something beyond an unfortunate circumstance. There are, however, times when one side feels wronged and seeks an explanation, a forum for his or her opinion or revenge. When this happens, the situation usually heats up.
The on-track woes for this competitor could be fixed, but it's going to take some time to
Cooler heads may prevail, but not always. When the cooler heads lose out, the rule makers step in.
"We have this all spelled out in our rules," says Day. "We keep a close eye on it and make sure it doesn't get out of hand."
The rule book for the Stacker 2 Xtreme DirtCar Series is quite specific, and the penalty is not a slap on the wrist. Any physical confrontation on the racetrack or in the pits leads to the aggressor or aggressors being suspended for three races, plus a loss of $1,500, plus a loss of 300 points. That's a far cry from the 25-point "slap on the wrist" stuff you see in the majors. Maybe the purses and point payoffs aren't as high as the top series, but it's all relative. Three hundred points are much more difficult to make up than 25.
If there is a second offense, the driver is gone for the remainder of the championship season. If it's happening at this level of competition, it's getting attention in the trade papers and the Internet chat rooms. If the driver tries to go to another series (provided that is a geographic possibility), or even to his local track, his reputation will usually precede him. Word gets out quickly, and it could be a little tougher getting the job done.
Remember when we said most on-track incidents seldom evolve into something beyond an unfortunate situation? That is generally true on the touring series because of the emphasis on professionalism by everyone involved. "These drivers know they have to play together throughout the year," Day says. "We have the rule book in place to help with it if they can't get through it themselves. They're racing for a living in many cases and don't want to do anything to take away from their living. There's a lot more give and take and a lot more respect."
The tempers tend to escalate when the racer is faced with damage that exceeds the amount of money set aside to fix it. In racing, the ones who finish up front get the most money while the ones who need the money the most finish in the back with wrecked race cars. "Most of the Saturday night guys are racing from checkered flag to checkered flag," Day says. "The least little thing could be devastating to them. What might be something easily fixed for one team, could put another team out of action for the rest of the year."