Stewart incident highlights danger, family aspects in local racing community [COLUMN]

There's danger each time a racer straps in, to be sure, but there's also a sense of camaraderie unlike any other, according to those who race.

There’s danger each time a race car driver straps in, to be sure, but there’s also a sense of camaraderie unlike any other, according to those who race.

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

There’s no doubt about it, racing of any kind is a dangerous game.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in a stock car, a sprint car or a bike on the BMX course at Oak Mountain State Park, any time you combine speed, treacherous terrain and the bravado of wanting to compete, there’s an element of danger hanging in the air. When to take into consideration that most people who compete on any level hate to lose, any perceived wrong on the course can lead to a confrontation.

Yet it’s that combination of bravado and assault on the senses racing provides that brings fans — myself included — back for more.

With the Aug. 9 tragedy that saw young Kevin Ward Jr. clipped by a sprint car driven by NASCAR standout Tony Stewart and subsequently killed during an on-track confrontation, the ever-moving racing world stopped on its axis, and caused drivers of all levels to take an introspective look at their passion.

Ronnie Revis is one of those drivers. The Wilsonville native is a staple of the crate late model class at Shelby County Speedway, and I got his thoughts on the incident and how it relates to local racers like him.

“We’re devastated,” he said of the accident. “But all us racers have (gotten angry at another driver). (It’s) very common.”
Revis was quick to point out just how quick things can go awry behind the wheel.

“One little thing can break and all of a sudden you hit the concrete (wall),” he said. “I got upside down three weeks ago. I’m 52 years old, and have been driving since I was 30, and I couldn’t avoid it.”

However, the nature of the Ward-Stewart incident got the local racing scene talking.

“The whole racing community got a wake -up call,” Revis said. “Most tracks have a rule, you get out of a car and you’re done. It’ll be a rule from now on.”

That said, while Revis said he knows racing has its dangers, it also has a sense of community like no other.

“The minute we heard, we communicated on Facebook,” he said. “The next day every one of the drivers got together and talked about it. You’ve got to talk about it. Every time a racer dies, you talk about it. Most local racers have done it all their lives. It’s in our blood.”