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Delay, Stop and Shorten Indy 500

The Indianapolis 500 was delayed, stopped and shortened yesterday because of rain. 
I’d like to recommend we do the same every year, or at least every other year.  Let’s think about auto racing logically for a moment.  In an environment where gas prices are skyrocketing and acquiring consistent sources of energy are costing far more than an extra buck at the pump, is it really a good idea to show the world how profligate we can be with our gasoline that we run dozens of very expensive cars around in circles.  It’s not just Indy, there’s NASCAR and truck racing and CART and kids driving go-carts and who knows what else, there is, in short, a lot of stupid gas use.  Don’t get me wrong, I like drinking beer and watching cars go in circles as much as the next guy, I actually attended the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at what was then the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  However, at a certain point we have to ask ourselves, is this really the image we want the world to have of us, and is it how our kids and grandkids will be perceived?

For one, I just don’t think it is physically sustainable.  A tree grows too high for too long and eventually a big wind will come and knock it down.  Indy is the redwood, the mighty Sequoia of auto racing, but I think nature was trying to tell us something yesterday.  I’ve always said water is life, well rain is nothing more than water (we hope) and life fell on Indy yesterday limiting the CO2 being pumped into the air.  Maybe we should all pay attention to that and try to do something with this great tree of ours before it falls on us.  Do we really need to run Indy every year?  The Olympics are held every four, well, two now that the winter schedule has been adjusted.  Maybe we could alternate years, running the Coca-Cola 600 in odd years and Indy in even – a homage to 1973 gas rationing based on the last digit of your license plate (Do you remember that?)  The alternative is to just keep running as many races as we can until we run out of gas which makes about as much sense to me as driving really fast to get to a gas station far away knowing full well you will eventually end up on empty on a deserted highway.

For two, all this auto racing makes us look like a bunch of dicks.  Really, a bunch of stupid dicks.  I don’t know any other way to say it, the rest of the world sees us in Iraq killing people and killing ourselves for what can only be oil or revenge right now, and simultaneously we are arrogantly flushing it down the toilet, swirling gasoline in circles until it disappears into the ether where we suck it into our lungs until we’re so nearly out of breath we can barely complain about the high price of gas.  Nature shortened Indy yesterday, maybe we need to follow its lead and curtail gas consumption ourselves.  It’s more than image.  It’s providing a good example for our kids.

All this reminds me of a poem written by a clearly bright, heavyset young Mexican boy I know.  Here it is in its entirety:

Cars

Driving all over

Running people over

They just go too fast

Out of the mouths of babes, they say…perhaps we simply need to slow down.  Just because we can drive a car 220 MPH doesn’t mean we have to, just because we have smart bombs that can target a man for death from 30,000 feet doesn’t mean we have to use them.  Very fast, very expensive cars crash on an oval and the state of the art protection usually saves the life of the driver.  Kind of fast cars without that protection crash on the highway and the silly kid pretending he’s at Indy dies or is crippled for life.  Smart bombs still inflict collateral damage.  Is it too radical an idea to call for a moratorium on speed and bombing, let’s slow down and stop shooting people.  If I’m asking too much, maybe we could just run all the cars at Indy next year on Bio-Diesel.  At least the fumes would smell better.

Jeff Wenker

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