MOUNT ULLA, NC :: I read Andy Marquis’ article and it really hit home with me. Being an avid Twitter user, I retweeted the article, and of course, there was one person who really struck a nerve with their arguments towards mandating head and neck restraints in short track racing.
This guy’s first response to my “retweet” of Andy’s article was a big fat “NO”. As I saw this, I am thinking to myself “what does this guy mean, ‘NO’?” Of course, I had to find out… I mean, who could be against being safer, right?
After going back and forth with him a few times, he first argued the potential of having to get out of the car in the event of a fire with a head and neck restraint on. Those of you who do not know me, I am a little above the average size for a normal racecar driver. Being 6’7″, getting in and out of a racecar is quite a task but I can tell you first hand that even with a full containment seat, helmet, head and neck restraint (HANS in my case), it can be done easily with very minimal practice.
Now that we have found out his original argument is invalid, he brings up several more asinine thoughts, then says “Well do you wear your HANS in your grocery getter?” This really got me to thinking about what the guy meant when he originally said “NO”. I sit there and continue to read other people’s tweets telling the guy that no grocery getter runs 6 inches away from a wall at 100 mph, therefore making that also invalid.
Not long after that, the almighty cost argument came into play, something Andy had touched on in his article. Being a modern day “old school” racer on a very limited budget (yes I fund all of my racing out of my own paycheck), I can tell you that when I started racing street stocks at Hickory in 2007, I would have sat out however many races it took for me to save up and buy all of the necessary safety items before I would have started racing. $1000, $2000, even $5000 for a head and neck restraint or a good helmet or suit would’ve been worth every penny to me. I love my family and I love racing and want to be able to see both for as long as I am alive and can properly prevent leaving them sooner.
Speaking of leaving too soon, I had a cousin get killed in a racecar in the early 90’s, had a great uncle and a grandpa that had reputable driving careers ended by injury, and have seen my dad and other cousins get hurt before this safety evolution, so I can tell you first hand that the modern advances in safety technology all came about for a good reason. From one budget racer to any $50-to win UCAR racer or multi-million dollar Cup driver out there, your melon is worth more than your racecar, no matter the cost of your car or the purse.
In my humble opinion, head and neck restraints aren’t something that should have to be mandated by local tracks, it should be something that is mandated by common sense. I know every racer out there is worried about saving that extra ounce. If that extra 3 pounds of a head and neck restraint makes the difference in winning or running second, you need to work on your car.
I just hope at least one person reads this and at makes a difference in their lives. Finally, it hit me what the guy on Twitter meant when he said “NO”…he forgot to put the word “brains” after it, to tell us he had NO brains when it came to safety. Please people, when it comes to protecting your life, don’t sacrifice anything.
Taylor Stricklin is the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Hut Stricklin and the grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison. He has previously competed in the UARA-STARS tour and currently competes in the Limited Late Model class at Hickory Motor Speedway.