NASCAR racing is not a blood sport (Photo: Dale Earnhardt Inc.)
By Mike Mulhern
Let's make this short and quick:
There's a line going around among some in the media that one reason for NASCAR's apparent decline in popularity is that this sport is suddenly 'too safe.'
i.e. – No one dies any more.
As if the element of sudden death is supposed to be racing's attraction.
It makes me want to puke.
I was at Charlotte when Dale Earnhardt Sr. ran his first race in 1975 and I was at Daytona he was killed.
I was at Talladega, in the infield hospital, when Larry Smith died.
I was at Daytona when Neil Bonnett died…and at Darlington when he got his brain scrambled so bad he couldn't even recognize his wife….and at Richmond when he got it scrambled again in that brutally sudden stop.
I was at Atlanta when Grant Adcox died.
I was at Charlotte when Blaise Alexander died.
I was at Michigan when Clifford Allison died.
I was at Michigan when Ernie Irvan nearly died, and lingered in that netherworld for so long.
I was at Davey Allison's funeral on that hot summer afternoon in Alabama.
I was at Michigan when Rick Baldwin was injured, in a crash that eventually led to his death.
I was at Charlotte when Sportman drivers David Gaines, Gary Batson and Russell Phillips died, one man burned to death on an awful, awful Friday night.
I was at Daytona when Joe Booher died.
I interviewed Mark Donohue a few weeks before he was killed in Austria.
I was at Martinsville when Richie Evans died.
I have talked with Richard Petty about the gory details of Friday Hassler's death at Daytona.
I was at Loudon when Kenny Erwin died.
I have talked with Kyle Petty about Adam's death.
I was at Daytona when Bruce Jacobi had that terrible crash that eventually caused his death.
I was at Daytona when Slick Johnson died.
I was at Bristol when Alan Kulwicki died in that plane crash.
I was at Daytona when Ricky Knotts died.
I was at Watkins Glen when J. D. McDuffie died.
I was at Daytona when Rodney Orr died.
I was at Talladega when ARCA driver Tracy Reed died.
I have talked with Joe Nemechek about the death of his brother John at Homestead-Miami.
I was at Talladega when Gene Richards died.
I was at Atlanta when Terry Schoonover died.
I was at Charlotte when ARCA's Eric Martin died.
I was at Daytona when Don Williams was so seriously injured that he was in that long, lingering coma that eventually ended in his death.
I was at Daytona when Dash driver Joe Young died.
And there have been more, too many, too many. After a while, it becomes just numbing.
I have shed enough tears in covering this sport. I have written more than enough obituaries. I have analyzed too many deadly crashes.
So I don't need anyone lecturing to me about the demographic attraction of death in this sport.....
That just makes me sick.