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Avoidable Contact #60: To make cars better, we’ll need to make them much worse

If you won the $700 million Powerball or whatever it's up to at the moment, what would you do? I know what I'd do—I would quit racing cars. Isn't it obvious why? No? Do you think that perhaps you would start racing cars if you won that kind of money, even though you absolutely would not? Alright, bear with me for a moment.


I've been racing wheel-to-wheel for a decade and a half. Spent twice the price of my house doing it, in exchange for a shelf of five-dollar trophies and two short appearances on cable television. I've seen the LifeFlight arrive at my sessions a half-dozen times, watched a fellow competitor die a hundred feet away from me, stood in silence while another one died in the helicopter. In 2015 I got turned by an out-of-control E30 BMW then center-punched at 80+ mph by that same car. The video shows my helmet bouncing between rollcage bars at the carefree speed of a dog's wagging tail. The year after, I exited the uphill Esses at Watkins Glen backwards and missed a deadly impact by maybe 18 inches. I'm moving to an open-cockpit car for this season, which will no doubt end in some sort of tears.


Why do it? The answer is simple: Like many men of my largely-forgotten generation and oft-reviled background, I have almost nothing to lose.


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"making cars safer has made them more dangerous" Absolutely, I want to lob anything heavy at the TV lately over the commercials showing how their new ca-o-matic 2020 can save the lives of drivers who have no reason being on the road in the first place. Laughing and talking with the passenger and can't look forward? Dropped your fries? Turned around to see what the spawn kicking the back of your seat wants? Backing straight towards a garbage can, bicycle or prone position child who tripped trying to get out of your way? No worries, it's the car's job to deal with that while you track down that new sushi place on the other side of town with your big screen console TV. I've been riding motorcycles for almost 50 years, and now I mostly take the convertible or sliding panoramic  roofmobile instead of one of the bikes, because I'm just not in the mood to be a human sacrifice. Broke 3 vertebrae in a 1974 MC crash, my shoulder in '75. Each time I couldn't wait to get the bike and myself fixed enough to ride. Now, I'm amazed how often folks don't even see my silver 1 Ton Ford E350 van as they turn left in front of me, zoom in front of me in a traffic circle of just start drifting into my lane. Guess they'll blame their car for killing me.