This is more than a bugbear .
Normally anything I write in this blog is tinted either with a dose of sarcasm , or hint of whining or is based in downright apoplectic rage .
This isn’t any of those .
It’s a mix of sadness , disgust , anger and puzzlement .
I’m THAT racing fan …………. the one that records every grand prix , Indycar race , Le Mans 24 hours , season reviews etc to DVD . (in the past it was VHS , but thankfully I have finally finished transferring them!). I like to think that eventually I’ll watch them all again to relive those past moments in all their glory ……….. or fall asleep trying all over again .
With the advent of youtube and Daily Motion we now have a vast online archive of races to connect to in an instant .
And boy have I enjoyed returning to races long past , revering the long forgotten back markers and chicane-less circuits .
More than that I have been able to watch races , highlights and reviews of races that were before my time . But my biggest pleasure has to be the opportunity to watch races that I read about in younger years in my favourite weekly magazine Autosport .
Admittedly , early 1990’s DTM races aren’t quite as romantically exciting as the race reports and glossy photo’s portrayed . My indulgence in Formula Nippon from the same era shows that the series was far more competitive through the field than I’d previously thought . And of course the allure of classic endurance cars of the 70’s and 80’s in their natural competitive environment leads to the cliché response of the hair on my arms standing on end .
The championship that I have revisited repeatedly is the fantastic Cart Champcar/Indycar series of the 1990’s . In it’s prime , this was a competition on par with F1 . The tracks , the drivers , the cars ………… the racing ……… oh man the racing !!!
At the same time the rival IRL series was born out of the political machinations and endeavours of the George family and the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway .
I’m not going to ramble on about the Indycar split , it travels far too far away from the point of this piece .
As Champcar stalwart Paul Tracy would say , the IRL was “crapwagon “.
To many of us , a passionate divide widened the gap between the two Indycar based series . Those of us in the Champcar camp considered the IRL to be of a lesser standard , and like many fans I mostly ignored the IRL . OK I watched the Indy 500 ……. and the odd race , but at the time I saw it as a grid full of Champcar backmarkers and Champcar no hopers .
Davey Hamilton and Billy Boat wouldn’t cut it , Tony Stewart and Sam Hornish would never make it . What did I know ??!!
But here , in 2014 I’m enjoying watching races from the history of both series . Having proven myself wrong , I have discovered some mighty fine competition in the IRL of old .
After trawling through an overabundance of quality racing I jumped a few years forward with the intention of watching a few races from the late 1990’s .
I hoped to relive moments like Mark Blundell’s 1st win at Portland , THAT finish in Michigan in 1998 Gil De Ferran nipping between 2 cars into turn 1 at Homestead . Of course the era would have to chuck up vids of the mightiest all ………………………………… Alex Zanardi .
So I popped in my search ……………..
And there it was ……………………
A video with the title “Greg Moore’s Fatal Crash Live”.
Followed by another three or four video clips pertaining to the same incident .
3,500,000 views on the first video , 1,500,000 views on the second if I remember correctly …………..
I don’t need to see it again thankyou very much .
I’m not ignorant , I’ve seen in the suggested video section plenty of thumbnails relating to many , many drivers and their fatal accidents before .
It’s something that most of us racing fans have come across whilst scouring online videos , I try to pay no heed to them , but this black underbelly of our sport is always there , literally in the corner of our vision . To upload this is , to be frankly English , “bad form” .
It’s disgusting .
It’s sickening .
It’s something I usually avoid , putting out of thought , and moving on to the racing I want to watch .
This time I couldn’t let it go .
This time it really hit hard ………. and I was aghast at the fact that people post these video’s ……… I was even more distraught at the viewing totals………….. as for the attitude and level of discussion in the comments section , the unapologetic and militant attitude of the “people” who originally posted this online , it defied any kind of logical comprehension as far as I can tell .
I’ve watched all kinds of motor sport since I was 5 or 6 years old , on 2 and 4 wheels . I have school books from the age of 7 recalling Freddie Spencer vs Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene . Rosburg , Piquet , Pironi . Names that I associate with my childhood . People from the large catalogue of drivers and riders stored in my memory .
In the intervening years I have witnessed far to many fatalities in our sport . Projected from the television , horrific scenes that will always stay with me .
Far too many times .
Drivers , marshals , spectators .
That year in Indycar racing also saw the passing of 3 fans at the IRL race in Charlotte , and Gonzalo Rodriguez in the Cart sanctioned Laguna Seca round .
More fare for the internet vermin to get their gratification from .
The passing of Greg Moore in 1999 was one of the most shockingly violent accidents I have borne witness too .
It was Halloween , and as usual I had loaded up the VCR with a cassette to record as I watched . It was a tense evening , the championship was to be decided over 500 miles at Fontana . My wife headed upstairs to watch some TV , I had my requisite snacks and beverages at the ready .
Unusually I was preparing for some channel hopping that evening , the race was on Eurosport , while my Oakland Raiders were entertaining the Miami Dolphins on Sky Sports . The idea being I’d hop over to the NFL during any yellow flags or commercial breaks . That never happened .
I settled down to watch a bloody good ding dong of a battle , I had no leaning for the championship race , I was equally a fan of both contenders . Montoya and Franchitti .
In fact I was a fan of each and every driver on the grid .
The race set off to a searing pace and pretty much immediately Richie Hearn had a sizeable off. . It was Fontana , any accident would be big . In 1997 Mo Gugelmin lapped this place in a Champcar with an Average lap speed of 240mph . It’s flat out all the way around . So any accident there would be big .
A few laps under yellow , a quick drink and a munch on something and we were under way again .
Then it happened , and I can remember it with such clarity . The shocking violence of it was one of those moments when you stop . It was one of those moments where you know what will be the inevitable end result .
I remember struggling to catch my breath and walking upstairs to sit on the end of our bed , my wife knew something bad had happened . I wouldn’t walk away from the race unless something bad happened .
Now my wife isn’t what is known as a “racing widow” , she is well versed in Nascar and is a quite a bit of a Moto GP fan . She finds F1 a bit staid , but follows the ups and downs of Le Mans with interest .
She doesn’t watch Indycar . She never has . Simply , it scares her .
No matter if it’s oval , road or street courses , the speeds and closeness of the cars make her wince .
That evening fifteen years ago was proof of that reasoning .
She calmed me down , I headed downstairs . After a while a statement was made informing us that Greg had been airlifted to hospital , and that it was very , very grave .
The racing continued for a while . Then they went to the medical centre and announced that Greg Moore had died . Even now as I write this I have just gotten that lump in my chest , and taken a deep breath to settle myself .
It was a devastating loss to the sport , and deeply upsetting to fans around the world .
Now , I never watched the video of the race . Over years as technology changed I recorded most of my racing VHS videos on to DVD .
That cassette was never put back into a machine after that night .
I’ve never viewed the accident since .
Apparently millions have , or many have a few times each .
Look , like the next race fan I marvel at the ones where they walked away , but the injuries and fatalities ? No .
It’s part of the sport , I’ve seen many pass ,
Greg Moore , Ayrton Senna , Daijiro Kato , Roland Ratzenberger , Marco Simoncelli , Dale Earnhardt , Keith O’Dor , Allan Simonsen , Dan Wheldon , Jeff Krosnoff , Marco Campos to name some .
The list goes on and on , no doubt over the years it will continue to grow .
This is a sport , a form of entertainment . It’s meant to be for pleasure .
Yes , we’ve all heard it before .
They know the risks .
Doesn’t make it right that people are posting these videos for people to watch .
Next time you see one of these appear on your suggestions , ignore it , go and watch a video of one of their superlative performances .
I’ve linked a few below for your entertainment .
Remember them this way ……………….
Greg Moore , 1st Champcar win .
Allan Simonsen tames the mountain .
Dan Wheldon , what a way to win !