The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 20, 2014

Shawn Wood on The Inside Track: One simple word

HARRISBURG — On Jan. 21, 1990, House Resolution No. 249 was introduced into the General Assembly of Pennsylvania to “establish a special committee to investigate the feasibility of regulating automobile racing within Pennsylvania.”

It never materialized, but it was a reminder that the general public still looks at our sport in a negative way.

There were rumblings in Harrisburg last week after the Jimmy Seger accident at Williams Grove Speedway. Whether or not these few folks will cause any commotion is yet to be seen.

Racing is and always will be a dangerous sport. Sir Jackie Stewart was one of the earliest known drivers to voice his concern about safety in his driving days in Formula 1.

It only takes one or two stories anywhere in the country in either the local newspaper or television station by a general reporter who knows nothing about racing to stir up folks who are searching for utopia, and that can lead to house resolutions getting started.

What these folks don’t understand is that racing can be defined by a five-letter word in Webster’s dictionary.

It may be the biggest little word ever known to man.

Athletes know what the word is.

Racers truly understand it.

When found, it can carry a person farther than they could have imagined.

This word was not only found in the men who stormed the beaches in Normandy 70 years ago, but in the United States Marines, who held on with tenacity that had never been seen before on a small hill overlooking the air strip at Guadalcanal.

I recently found out that a friend of mine, a Marine from World War II, had passed away. His name was Bob Addison.

I met Bob a number of years ago while working as a minor league hockey broadcaster. He wasn’t just a Marine, he was one of Edson’s Raiders, the forerunners of today’s special forces.

He fought at Guadalcanal  and while he didn’t go into detail about the events that led to one of the most important battles and victories of World War II, he voice conveyed Esprit de Corps.

He had the five-letter word down pat and so does every Marine, past, present and future.

The word I am referring to is “heart.”

It’s something we all have inside of us. It’s how we use it that gives us character.

I don’t think for one second those who introduced the bill in the ’90s or those citizens who sit at home with nothing better to do realize just how big-hearted our racing community is.

Through all of last year’s tragedies, we were united as one from all corners of the globe from all different series to pay our respect to the fallen.

But there are times when the voices of the people win out.

Take for example, Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, New Zealand.

The track was built in the 1920s, long before suburbia would blossom around it. It is home to some of the earliest known international dates for midget racing. The midgets are still the top draw at the speedway today.

A few folks moved in and they didn’t like the noise of the race car engines. They successfully got the local government to side with them and thus the speedway has had to scale back its racing calendar.

Thankfully, some of the people who introduced the legislation in 1990 are no longer in office.

Our sport is one in which everyone knows the risks that are involved. We don’t talk about it, but on any given night, something can go drastically wrong.

But sometimes the cycle comes along and hits us when we least expect it.

To those folks who think the state should regulate racing, I say come and watch our sport some time before you pass judgment. The safety innovations that are in use today are leaps and bounds better than they were in the ’90s.

This sport is made up of great people who have a passion for what they do all the while knowing the risk and rewards that are at stake.

We’re family. And when the chips are down, we stand strong for those who are in need.

Text Only
The Daily Marquee
National Sports Video
Auto Racing 2014

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.