I’ve heard a story similar to the following a number of times:
Don’t worry, I know how to handle cars. It’s only the guys who can’t handle the power of their car that die.
I wonder what Ayrton Senna would have said to that. Or Peter Brock. Or Dale Earnhardt. Or any of the other hundreds of motorsport champions that have met their end behind the wheel.
I know the feeling that you get when you do something dangerous. I was a glider pilot for many years, have flown powered aircraft in loops, and I owned a sports car for a number of years. Yes, the rush is incredible.
But at some point you have to realise that this shit is dangerous. That means that you can very likely die.
I’ve been in Race Control for the V8 Supercars (Australia’s highest professional racing code). There are sixteen people there watching every single car, commanding teams of hundreds, all to keep the 26 drivers on the track safe. Before you fly an aerobatic maneuver, you perform a number of checks, including signalling to other aircraft that you’re about to do something risky. And you’ve usually got a parachute if there is any chance that something may go wrong.
But when you drive your car, you don’t have these support structures. You’re all alone on the roads. Even in the best case scenario, you are more than likely a few minutes away from medical attention.
I know that there is the temptation to do dumb things. You have a fast car, and you can easily overtake the 70-year-old that doesn’t seem to know the speed limit. You’ve only had a couple of drinks, and you feel fine, so what’s the harm?
This weekend, I had the honour of speaking at my Brother’s funeral. There were close to 300 people there to farewell this small country town boy.
However, part of me knows that the reason that he lay before us was that he somehow thought that he was a better driver than Senna. He made a dumb move, and within the blink of an eye, he was now killed.
Looking at this objectively, he had it coming. He overtook in a non-overtaking lane, in the wet, whilst speeding. But that still doesn’t lessen the pain that my family and I are now going through.
I know that the next time you all try something stupid that you probably won’t remember this, but in the off chance that you do, please reconsider your actions. Luckily, it was only my brother that was killed in his accident, but he may well have also destroyed another family’s life in the process.
So next time you think you can get around a slower car, or you think that it will be okay to mix drugs, or have unprotected sex, please at least make sure that you have made peace with your family and prepared a will. And please also put aside some cash to help pay for the funeral, because they are not cheap.
Just remember; you are probably not as good of a driver as Ayrton Senna.