Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tony Stewart returns

Tony Stewart, the brash NASCAR driver, is finally returning to racing. He'll be in his familiar #14 car in Atlanta speeding around the track at 180 MPH and making a lot of left turns. Is this the right thing for him to do? My answer would be -- absolutely.

Sure, we all remember the tragedy that happened on a dirt track about a month ago when young Kevin Ward lost his life. Bluntly put, Kevin Ward is dead. And Tony Stewart was driving the car that hit and killed him.

Yes, there will always be differing opinions as to who -- if anybody -- was responsible for the fatal incident. Maybe one? Maybe the other? Maybe both? Maybe neither? Believe what you will, but such opinions really don't matter. Sadly, Kevin Ward can't relate his version of what happened, and only Tony Stewart knows for sure what was going through his head in the moments preceding the deadly impact. All the rest is just speculation.

Granted, being involved in such an incident would be enough to shake anyone to their core. I dare say few of us have experienced what it feels like to be driving an automobile that strikes and kills a "pedestrian". Even if not at fault, it could be fairly said this would trigger a wide range of emotions. Remorse, sympathy, perhaps even guilt thinking about -- could I have done anything differently to avoid it? Sleepless nights to be sure.

But what was "Smoke" to do in the wake, no pun intended, of such a tragedy? He's a race car driver. Has been since forever. It's how he makes his living.

So OK, he took a few weeks off from racing. This is totally understandable. Stewart may be a lot of things, but he's still a human being with a conscience. It seemed only logical for him to need some time to get his head right again. This is nothing the average person wouldn't experience. Many years ago, yours truly splattered a little dog that ran out in front of my car on the interstate, and it haunts me to this day. Besides the dog itself, that little pooch belonged to somebody. I can't even imagine what it would feel like to kill a human being with my car, even if it wasn't my fault.

But let's get real. Even if such an unfortunate incident were to befall me, it's not like I'd never drive a car again. It's pretty much a necessity -- ya know? Would I feel terrible for the "victim" and/or his/her family? Absolutely. Would I ever forget what happened? Absolutely not. But you can't just curl up into the fetal position for the rest of your life. In my younger days, I did a lot of stupid and dangerous things that I probably shouldn't have lived through. Tragedies and accidents happen every day everywhere. But for the grace....

Yet life goes on for the fortunate. Like the famous line in the movie Shawshank Redemption -- one can get busy living, or get busy dying.

Tony Stewart's just trying to get his life back. He's a race car driver. It's what he does, and has for a long time. Recently, he came out with a public statement and said all the right things. Sure, he read from a prepared note in front of him -- but who doesn't these days? When athletes get in trouble for various reasons, an eloquent prepared statement is always released to the press. Do you really think any of those guys actually wrote it? Of course not. A lot of them couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted them two consonants and a vowel. Even high ranking politicians, the slickest of the slick, up to and including the President, read from statements prepared by others. Who's kidding who?

May Kevin Ward rest in peace, but it's time for Tony Stewart to get back to living.

On a related note -- the cops never cease to amaze me. After all this time since the dirt track fiasco, they say their "investigation" will go on for at least another couple weeks. They're still trying to figure out whether they can charge Tony Stewart with any criminal wrong-doing.

Hey, they've seen the track videos of the incident. They've interviewed Stewart and all the other drivers that were in that race. They've probably even got multiple cell-phone videos from people that were in the stands.

So other than wasting the tax-payers money yet again, just what exactly is the reason for this "investigation" to continue? If they think Tony Stewart mowed down Kevin Ward on purpose, then charge him as such. Good luck trying to prove that. If they think he was "negligent" with his car causing death, then charge him with that.

But the facts -- and speculation -- are all in and have been for some time. Another two weeks of asking the same questions again aren't going to change anything.

Either charge Smoke with a crime, or shut up and butt out. He's got a life. Time for the cops and prosecutors to get one as well.

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