There is no doubt about it, emotions always run high at the local short tracks. I just came across this video of a fight between Sammy Swindell and another driver from Riverside Speedway back in 2009. What seems like a racing deal escalates quickly. By no means is Sammy compeletly innocent in this video, he does add fuel to the fire after he won the event and then to much of the delight of the fans says where he thinks the other driver’s head is at. You can watch the video below.
I can’t say that I would of reacted any differently than Sammy did in this case though. If someone had came up and hit my car more than once, I would of defended it also. That car is a part of Sammy, so by slapping the car the other driver was slapping Sammy. And the fans seemed to love it, they went to a fight and a race broke out! But is this really a good thing for us that are involved in dirt track racing?
I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to that question. When something like this happens it attracts more fans to the sport. I would of liked to see how many fans showed up at the next race to see if there would be any more retaliation. But because emotions run so high, people often lose control. And there have been times where things have happened and someone ended up doing something that they will regret for the rest of their life.
A good example of this is at one particular track in Missouri, where a driver of a push truck got out of his truck to stop a fight between two drivers. The driver of the push truck thought he had hit the parking brake when he got out of the truck. However the push truck started rolling towards the scene of the fight where a crowd had gathered. A gentleman decided to try to save the people at the scene and tried to jump in the truck and stop it. However he would slip as he went to jump into the truck, and the truck ran him over and he died later that evening.
I don’t know where I stand on the issue, I’ll be the first one to run to the fence when a fight breaks out. But I guess my opinion is this: SETTLE IT ON THE TRACK! I honestly believe you can do more harm and insult to someone on the track, than you ever could by throwing a punch. If I was this driver in the video above, I would of chalked Sammy up to needing a payback. Then the next race I was at where Sammy and I would be racing against each other, I would of prayed to the racing gods that I could be in Sammy’s heat. Because, if I could of spun him or knocked him out of the heat and into the B or C main, that night for him would of potentially been ruined. And in my book, we would of been even.
But if you must fight, settle it like men! Don’t jump on the others car or punch a guy when he’s still strapped into the car. Drive to the frontstretch, and fight like men (with your helmet off!) in front of the fans! Just be ready for the consequences of possibly getting your wrists in handcuffs afterward.
Our own Tech Editor Bobby Kimbrough said it best in a column about this very subject almost a year ago: The best racers have a metric butt load of talent and passion. To be a winning driver, you must have a combination of both. Talent without passion breeds mediocrity. Passion can exacerbate the frustrations of what is happening on the track and often times leads to a little aggressive behavior. We’d all rather see drivers with passion on the track than drivers with some talent and no passion.
Well put Bobby! As long as there are passionate dirt track drivers, fights will always exist in our sport.