"Race car driver" is by nature a dangerous occupation. When the goal is to go as fast as you possibly can to beat any number of competitors, danger enters into the equation. While injuries in racing are fairly common, death is not.
Winston Cup has avoided tragedy for the most part. The last driver to die during a race was J.D. McDuffie in 1991. Other forms of racing are not so lucky. On October 31 during the running of the CART event at California Speedway, Greg Moore, a promising 24-year-old Canadian, was killed after his car impacted the inside retaining wall on the backstretch and proceeded to turn over several times. Upon hearing the news that evening, I had the same feeling I had on a lazy Tuesday afternoon in the summer of 1993. Driving on the parkway that morning, I heard on the radio that Davey Allison had died as a result of injuries he sustained in a helicopter crash a day earlier. I pulled off to the side of the road and tried to catch my breath. It's a feeling I won't soon forget. That same feeling came back on October 31.
I'll admit that I don't watch CART racing as much as I watch NASCAR Winston Cup events. But when I tuned in, I followed Greg Moore. He was my favorite driver on the CART circuit. Maybe it was because he was Canadian from a small town outside of Vancouver, maybe it was because he was an "outsider" to some degree (after all, he wasn't named Unser or Andretti), or maybe it was because he spoke his mind. Whatever the reason, I started following his career in 1998 and that carried over to 1999. When he accepted an invitation to race in the 1999 IROC series, I couldn't have been happier. I looked forward to seeing Moore race against Jeff Gordon. He adapted to the IROC stock cars with relative ease. Along with Eddie Cheever and other CART racers, he tested at Daytona before the season to get a feel for the car. He proved that he was a natural racer. In the Daytona IROC event, he stayed in the lead draft and finished 5th, one position in front of Gordon. First race in a stock car and he finishes in front of my favorite NASCAR driver. Not a bad debut. Of course, his greatest success was in the CART series. He won the season-opening race at Homestead and announced later in the season that he would be joining Penske Motorsports for the 2000 season. The chance of a lifetime was just around the corner. Sadly, it was a corner that Moore would never see.
I often tell people that nothing in sports surprises or shocks me anymore; except tragedy. Moore almost didn't start the event after a scooter he was in collided with a small truck on Saturday. He injured his hand and hip but turned a few practice laps on Saturday afternoon to prove that he could race the following day. In the event, he started 27th and had moved up to 15th when tragedy struck on lap 10. The end came way too soon.
Racing is a dangerous game. At some point, tragedy almost seems inevitable. But that doesn't mean it is accepted. When a race car driver dies in a crash, it sends shockwaves through the racing community. When one of your favorite drivers dies in a crash, it's personally devastating. There's a saying that "time heals all wounds." Well, losing Greg Moore cuts pretty deep; real deep.
Copyright ©1999 Jeff Gordon Online.|
All rights reserved.