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What if I got it wrong
And no poet or song
Could put right what I got wrong
Or make you feel I belong?
Once upon a time, there was a man who loved racing. He lived and breathed it; it was his dream, his career, his future. He didn’t have the talent to be successful behind the wheel; so he dedicated himself to become a talented mechanic instead. He built his reputation from the ground up, and became one of the most respected head wrenches in his sport, working for the best teams in the business, winning races with men like Jack Roush, providing the best cars to drivers like Mark Martin.
But the father had an even bigger dream. All the victories, all the respect, all the glory in the world could never make up for being able to drive yourself to the checkered flag. And his success had put him in a position to have that dream become a reality: not for him, but for his son. The son, you see, had the one racing talent the father never had; the ability to get behind the wheel and drive anything he was given straight through to Victory Lane.
Working for the best teams in the business, he had the connections to let his son skip the stairway and take the elevator to the top, straight through to racing with the best drivers in the world. As any father would do, he gave the son the chance to grab the keys to everything he always wanted. “It’s all yours,” said the father to the son. “Not only that, but I’ll stand behind you, and guide you, every step of the way.” And at first, for the father it was a dream come true.
The only thing was, the dream never fully became reality. And the father learned a harsh lesson; in order to fulfill his dream, his son had to work just as hard, believe just as much, and be just as humble. And the son was none of those things. In fact, the son rebelled, and chose to do everything wrong.
When every step that you take
Can be your biggest mistake
And it could bend and it could break
Well that’s just the risk that you take…
A few hours of fun, two positive tests, and now a young life gets thrown away. And for what? For who? Somewhere while you’re reading this in the next few days, that disgruntled father will sit with his son and ask him why. It was just one time, Dad. Oh, come on, why did they have to suspend me for THAT? You wonder if the son even has figured out the consequences of what he’s done, how an entire career was just shattered the minute he put a drug into his mouth and inhaled. Come on, Dad, they’ll reinstate me again. You have your connections, don’t you? Those old drivers don’t have too many years left; I’ll jump right in and show ‘em how it’s done.
Or maybe, just maybe, somewhere it’s beginning to sink in for the son, it’s beginning to finally make sense to Shane Hmiel. The fact he’ll likely never race in this sport again. That he had a second chance…and gave it all away.
No one can deny that Shane’s got talent. Sure, through the years people remarked at how he’s always gotten the best equipment. How his father Steve not only gives him the money, but the know-how from the spotter’s stand to coach his son through thick and thin and get him to the front. Still, no matter how much money someone has, no matter how often you’re coached on the radio, you’ve got to be the one to drive that car to Victory Lane. I never saw Steve driving a race car. In fact, it was Shane, and he drove it well, to several wins in the Craftsman Truck Series with a team that didn’t even have a full-time sponsor when the year began in 2004.
How many drivers he pushed through to get to the front is a different question: Shane was a driver known for his aggression and his ego, an ego no doubt bloated to the point where he thought he could continue to sneak his substance abuse by the powers that be after getting caught once before. But when you look at the bottom line, Shane finished in the front more often than not. The Pettys saw enough talent in him to prepare a Cup ride for Shane in 2004 before his first suspension. DEI saw enough in Shane to be grooming him for a future Cup career just two years down the line. Make no doubt about it, Shane was getting ready to crash the racing world’s party of future stars. It’s just he did a little crashing down of his own, and it was just a one-car wreck. Now, even his backup car is destroyed.
Yet, the back story is how badly you have to feel for the father. Steve Hmiel has done nothing but been a decent man, one that’s built a successful Nextel Cup career for himself as a crew chief and team manager. He’s done nothing but stood behind his son every step of the way, taking Shane’s indiscretions in stride and putting his heart and soul into taking the raw talent he saw in his son and trying to mold it into championship material. Now, one week after taking perhaps the most volatile job assignment in his career, choosing to be the man who fixes the son of the Intimidator, his own son involves him in a crisis that he neither needs or deserves. Not that I don’t feel for Shane; drug addiction is a very serious thing, one that kills thousands of people in this country every year, and I hope he is able to seek him and get better as quickly as possible.
Oooh, that’s right
Let’s take a breath, jump over the side
Oooh, that’s right
How can you know it when you don’t even try?
That’s the biggest shame of all, that Shane doesn’t know how it feels to live the dream. In taking the road to a quick high, he chose not to try, when the sport’s highest level was at his fingertips not once, but twice. It’s an opportunity tens of thousands of men across the country would beg for; and what a shame, because it’s now all been wasted away.
Editor’s Note: Lyrics are from Coldplay’s new song “What If,” off their new CD X and Y, which will hit stores next week.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I only hope NASCAR doesn’t pussy foot around with him and bans him for life.
NASCAR doesn’t need to have someone, driver of fan, killed by someone running on something more than ego or adrenalin.
While the character of adult children is their own responsibility and sometimes a person is simply “bad seed” despite all parental attempts the vast majority of brats are brats because their parents poured on the indulgence and left out the discipline.
I’ve seen Rusty Wallace criticized for coming down too hard on Stephen. But all available evidence suggests that Stephen Wallace is a young man of good character—respectful and hard-working. Probable evidence of good parenting there.
A proud veteran
I was a HUGE fan of yours, I have watched you since you came on the scene. You can drive anything but you have to respect your elders as well as your own life!
Using drugs again is a stupid way of screwing up the career that you were trying to rebuild to say the least! I believe that you could have made a good CUP driver some day if you would have only just used your head for something other than holding a WinFuel hat!!
I also feel sorry for your Dad, he has enough pressure on him right now trying to get your friend JR rolling again, this will only make his job harder dealing with you.
Shane I wish you well, PLEASE get help before you continue to hurt you and your family! GET WELL!!
My friends are NOT in the same situation. I choose to surround myself with people who are not in a position to get me or my husband arrested.
Apples and oranges anyways. My friends aren’t out racing at 200mph… playing Russian Roulette with every crash, every week and sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. No one here is wishing he would DIE, we all hope he gets the help, but none of us want him to take the chance of hurting or killing someone because he was impaired. But, let’s just say the mailman crashes into your house while on drugs. Would you let him crash into your house again? Oops, the mailman did. And Shane did. What happens next time if he crashes into your child’s room? Would you be ticked if he didn’t lose his job? That makes it personal to you. Now think of the mother of a driver who might possibly be seriously hurt cause Shane was an idiot.
To Sandy, in the forums, I posted an article that said Shane, at Lowe’s used his car as a “gesture” towards an official, and either before or after he crashed his car. Guess it takes 2 and 2 to make 10 for them.
To Jake, interesting theory. Jr. has been making more silly moves lately, but as I say again, I don’t think he belongs in NNC.
I know Shane & Tyler Hmiel personally and to see the commments being made by people who probably have NO clue as to what those two boys go through is unbelieveable. I know Shane will get the help he needs and not take only 4 months.
To Jake, my best friend is close to Jr..and he in no way at ALL does any drugs. So don’t start rumors about Jr that you have NO clue about. I suggest you keep your mouth SHUT next time.
Get better Shane! We love you NO MATTER WHAT!
As far as Jr. goes… well, that’s a Kevin Bacon effect. Just as you ranted about people talked about whom they don’t know personally, you do not know Jr. personally and therefore you can only speculate, like the rest of us, on what he does or doesn’t do. Sure, you can take offense, your email is Jr. Junkie, and we can respect that you are entitled to your opinion and defense of your favorite driver… Jr. is a party boy, we all know that. Who’s to say he is OR isn’t doing something? But he has a point… NASCAR will never test him and if they do, it will be hush-hush. Who brings some of them big dollars?
Do you think it’s possible, even in the smallest sense that maybe people are just looking for a way to write off Jr.’s problems rather than admit he isn’t a great driver (nor business man it seems)?
If a guy wants to drink or do drugs on his own time that is one thing. But to test positive AFTER the race in Richmond (1st penalty) and now AFTER qualifying at Lowes (2nd penalty) shows a lack of judgement that does not belong in this sport!
NASCAR needs to make an example out of this loser.
I don’t blame parenting on anything, except the fact thast Hmiel’s return had a lot more to do with Daddy than being clean. Just like Jr., if it weren’t for Daddy, neither would probably be here (common bond for best friends?). And while you are on the subject of partying with friends, it was Dale Jr. who admitted that he drove “a little drunk and hungover”. But as a golden child… what can you do, he said it after the 3 day limitation of testing for alcohol…
And you are right, we only see what they show us, on re-runs. His live interviews, his on track actions and treatment of other drivers is LIVE and IN COLOR. Shane CHOSE to do and say those things, the words he says are from his own mind and during a live race broadcast, it isn’t anyone’s choice but his. Are we to believe that isn’t really him because that isn’t how he acts at home? Then that would mean he is two-faced, which in my book is worse than being just one punk….
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