COPPER HILL, VA :: Tragedies often results in journalists, quick to run any story, chasing the wrong story.  That has been the case following the tragic and unfortunate death of Niokoa Johnson.

Instead of asking if Niokoa Johnson was wearing adequate safety devices and/or why she wasn’t, WFTV anchor Nancy Alvarez asked why it was legal for children and teenagers to compete in competitive auto racing.


It’s been a somewhat common sentiment that’s also been shared by some on social media who feel children who are not old enough to drive on the road simply shouldn’t be allowed to race either.

Well, allow me to retort.  Why are children and teenagers allowed to compete in competitive football?  In only a four month time span in 2013, six teenagers died as a result of head injuries sustained playing high school football.  Perhaps we should ban children and teenagers from any sport where there’s a risk of injury or death.  If a child gets hit in the head with a baseball, ban it.  If a soccer ball injures a child’s rib cage, ban it.  If a kid suffers a concussion on a basketball court, ban it.

If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is.

Children and teenagers competing in motorsports is not a new thing nor is it, in itself, a problem that needs to be addressed.  In fact, a knee-jerk ban on children racing would only jeopardize the future of the sport as a whole – not to mention take away one more activity that gets kids outside and involved in a hobby instead of stuck inside surfing YouTwitFace on their iPhone or playing Grand Theft Auto on their PlayStation 2… or is it PlayStation 4 now?

Fortunately, politicians in Washington and the Beltway media are too occupied with the invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and the unfortunate disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to know or care about Niokoa Johnson’s death because I could easily envision Nancy Pelosi and Lawrence O’Donnell advocating for laws banning kids from competing in sanctioned auto racing. Again.

One More Thing…

Let’s give credit where credit is due.   East Carolina Motor Speedway, Langley Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway, Myrtle Beach Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park already have rules in the books mandating the use of head-and-neck restraints. Bravo!  Hopefully, the list of tracks mandating these devices, which have been proven to significantly decrease the risk of serious injury or death, will grow in the weeks and months ahead.