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 Columns & Editorials

February 20, 2004

Racing Is Not the Same

Arnie Frye

Daytona Beach, Fl.

Racing at Daytona and racing anywhere else is not the same. It seems when race car drivers come to Daytona they leave their brains at home and come with one thought, "win ay any cost".

Now these races are run to be won by someone. So of course everyone wants to win every race. But there is something about coming to Daytona Beach that is different and causes strange things to happen in the drivers minds. They throw caution to the wind when they get here.

This change in these drivers is nothing new. I have been coming to Daytona since 1959 and it has always been that way. It doesn't matter what type of race car you drive either. It can be a sports car, stock car, IROC car or even a motorcycle. It is just a wild eyed bunch that gets behind the controls of these high powered racing machines.

Look back at the racing we have seen since the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona. There have some strange driving habits in control of all types of machines. And as the week has progressed things have increasingly gotten more aggressive. There have been some big accidents even in practice.

It was almost like you could see it slowly starting during the Rolex 24. Then came the Budweiser Shootout last weekend. Now it seems that the lights have made this change over even worse than ever before. Is there some kind of gremlin in the night air? Do you think it could be all that salt blowing in from the beach?

I never heard of a salt high. I have heard of a sugar high but thatís not it because there is no more sugar here than anywhere else. Friday afternoon in the Crown Royal IROC race we even Danny "The Dude" Lasoski, from the World of Outlaws acting strange and sticking the nose of his race car in places thee was no room.

Maybe I have found the answer to it all though, itís the YELLOW LINE. No where else except Talladega and Daytona do they have the YELLOW LINE. That has to be it because now that I think of it they do kindía act the same at both places. Do you really think that could be it?

No that canít be it either because New Smyrna Speedway and Volusia County Speedway Park has the same thing going on in the races they are having. They donít have a YELLOW LINE at either of those tracks.

Maybe it is the spirit of Fireball Roberts, Barney Oldfield and all those racers from the past. That canít be it because it was the same way even when they were here. That also means I can not blame on the younger and younger drivers coming here to race. In fact most of them are having less trouble than the ones that have been here for a while.

Did "Big" Bill France know something about this special place on the east coast of Florida that turns men crazy about speed or was he effected too? Maybe he got the bug and brought it here. Do you suppose? Where did he get it and is there a cure? Sure doesnít seem like there is at this time. Even as I type this I hear them going fast around this place and bumping into each other. They are even bouncing off the walls. Maybe these walls need PADDING.

I know it cannot be the smells of racing that causes this strange change in these men and even a few women. Speaking of the women maybe that is why this sport has been so bad to the ladies that have attempted to play with these boys. The sport doesnít want to see ladies act like these men are. No that is not it. I know Shawna Robinson and she can hang with the best of these guys any time. She is as tough as any man out there.

Maybe it is a combination of the salt air and the sand!?!? Well if that is it then why do they act much the same at Talladega? No salt and no sand there.

Some people say it is the size of the track. That canít be it because Indy is the same size as Daytona. These same men are not as crazy there as here.

Others have said it is the High Banking but Bristol has that. Hum, hey maybe that is it! Things get pretty crazy at Bristol. No that is the way every race is on a short track.

Well I am still looking for the answer to what makes these drivers change. But I donít think I have found it yet. There are a couple more days of Speed Weeks 2004 left so I guess I had better get to work and figure it out soon.

[Arnie Frye can be reached at ArnieFrye@karnac.org]

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