Michael: In recent years, we have seen some unpleasant fights that have taken place at area racetracks. In some instances, weapons were displayed, but thankfully never fired, and tools were used as weapons. The most recent incident took place at Tazewell Speedway last Saturday night.
A number of people were involved with a fight involving the classic car race at Tazewell this past Saturday. It appears six people went against one person that left that person with some severe injuries, enough that requires surgery. Tazewell Speedway officials are gathering names of those involved and have promised to suspend those people for the remainder of the season.
411 Motor Speedway also runs the classic car division. Following news of the fight at Tazewell, 411 officials have said anyone suspended or banned at Tazewell will not be allowed to race at 411 while the punishment is in effect. What is your take on how Tazewell and 411 have handled this situation?
Richard: To some degree, fighting has always been a part of racing. The sport is one of high intensity and high emotion, and sometimes that intensity and emotion spills over in unacceptable ways. Although I was not there, it appears as if that was the case last Saturday night in Tazewell.
Many often joke about fights at racetracks and the practice is, in some ways, even encouraged. Many of us have probably seen a famous sign at South Carolina’s Modoc Speedway which declares “If you fight in my pit area, you’ll go to jail. If you fight on my front straightaway, you’ll get $500.” Obviously, the sign is meant to send the message that fights entertain the crowd, and thus, are encouraged.
While that may be true, fighting can’t be encouraged. As a matter of fact, measures must be taken by tracks to discourage the practice. Severe penalties have to be enacted against those who instigate violent acts, especially when those acts involve the use of weapons or multiple people “ganging up” on just one person.
That said, I believe Tazewell and 411 are taking appropriate steps in thoroughly investigating Saturday’s incident and then suspending those involved.
Michael: I do not doubt some tracks do encourage fighting. Of the ones that do, what kind of responsibility do they hold if a situation breaks out like happened at Tazewell?
There are countless incidents over the years where drivers, crew members, car owners, etc. have faced some kind of suspension for being involved in an altercation. With so many tracks in this area, it is easy for a suspended person just to go to another track the next week. Do you think all tracks should honor any type of punishment from another track or is it their own choice to do as they feel what is best for them?
Richard: It would be nice if all area tracks would honor suspensions for fighting and even other violations such as tire doping or rough driving. But as we have seen in the not-so-distance past, there will always be some tracks that are not willing to get along with others.
As far as violence in any sport goes, I have always contended that a violent act should not be excused as “part of the game” just because it happened to take place in a sporting arena. In no other aspect of life would one person be allowed to attack another person with a stick. Yet in hockey, the offender gets only a few minutes in a penalty box and then returns to the game because it’s “part of the game”.
When weapons and gang mentality occur, those incidents should have the same implications as they would if they occurred to a person who was walking don Main Street whether they took place at a race track, a football field or a basketball court.
Michael: Those are some great points. Myself, I would like to see all tracks honor the suspension of one track to teach people a lesson. I know that is wishful thinking on my part. I do applaud what 411 has done regarding the incident with the classic car people involved in the fight at Tazewell.