Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday May 30, 2007
Last October, I announced in this very column the opening of the long awaited Van Horne Speedway. (See ( for more info). New Wave of Racing Fever Surfaces in Small Town) Well, to put it mildly… a lot has changed since then!
The number of operational go karts that may show up on any given race day has grown from five to about ten or twelve. Not only do we have the original track on the edge of town, another track has been built about a mile or so west, complete with about four feet of banking in Turns 1 and 2. Let me give you this piece of advice should you be planning to show up next week; if you are going to run the high line in 1 and 2, make sure you can hold it. It's a nasty drop!
As you might imagine, a lot of hard racing has ensued over the last few months, leading to copious amounts of prime, corn-growing soil finding its way into the municipal sewer system from numerous shower stalls across town. Oh, and we have had a few "incidents," too.
Now, due mainly to the fact that we may reach speeds of up to 30 MPH on our small tracks and we all are manly (sometimes beverage filled) men, safety features on many of the karts are usually overlooked by their owners in favor of more pressing issues such as more horsepower, torque, or the right set of tires to allow maximum slide around the corners. While some of the karts have roll bars and seat belts, others do not. Like I said, it has never, however erroneously, been much of a concern…until recently.
Long story short, in our last 20 lap "feature" race, the No. 88 Frontstretch.com sponsored kart (I just got the stickers in the mail today and have yet to get them on) driven by Jeff "Skool" Meyer, was running poorly. It was missing coming out of the turns. I, to my horror, had been lapped! The rest of this is "my" version, or shall we say, how I saw things develop from inside my cockpit.
I was running an inside line, heading into Turn 1, when a man, whom I consider to be a friend, passed me on the high side. I maintained my inside trajectory. My friend, who was faster than me at that point, cut down low to exit Turn 2. We met hard, with my front bumper catching the middle of his left rear wheel. The result was the most violent rollover we have had to date. He was not wearing his lap belt and was half thrown from the kart as it rolled. Fortunately, as far as I know for we have not spoken since the incident, other than a large amount of bruising and soreness, he was not seriously hurt. He was, however, seriously MAD! Mad to the point that to this day, he insists (so I am told) I did it on purpose.
Well, the whole incident has left me with some surprisingly strange feelings the last three weeks. As a writer who covers most things NASCAR, I see and write about similar incidents that happen in the Cup series all the time. It has been easy in the past, as an outside observer, to assign blame to a driver for any particular incident; it always seemed so cut and dry. However, in the future, I don't think I'll be so quick to cast judgment.
In my particular incident, I know that I did not roll this guy on purpose. Yes, I got into him hard, but it was not intentional. All of us, at some point in our little races have, and do, bump one another on purpose, but never with the intent to roll one another. That is just an unwritten rule that none of us ever worry about. I mean, this is a community of 715 people….we see and / or work with each other almost every day.
I'd like to think, and I'm about as 100 percent sure of this as one can be, that had the roles been reversed, I would not think that it was done intentionally. To me, rubbing IS racing, and accidents are just a chance you take when you get on the track. (I DO always wear my safety belt, though!)
While I feel bad that the whole thing occurred, I will not, nor should I, let the incident change the way I race. I know I didn't do it on purpose and fortunately, even those that were not involved in the wreck tend to agree. That is good. I don't want, nor deserve, a reputation as a driver who will wreck you on purpose.
Bottom line, like I said, in the future the whole thing will make me think a little bit more before I start bashing a driver for this or for that. Even the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya and Johnny Sauter.
JPM and Sauter?! Wow! This is going to be tougher than I thought!
Stay off the wall,
(We have issued a mandatory seat belt rule, though!)
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