When I read this headline, my first thought was:
“Wait a minute – that’s how fast Kyle Busch was going when he was stopped for speeding!”
Since then, four people have told me they thought the very same thing.
This deadly accident happened on Sunday, June 5th. Now friends and family are left to mourn three teenage boys. Another remains hospitalized at WakeMed.
I cannot help but wonder: Were these boys NASCAR fans?
Were they Kyle Busch fans? Did they admire his bad-boy reputation? Did they think his recent reckless driving stunt was cool?
Was he on their minds while the 16-year-old driver tested the power of his 2011 Dodge Challenger?
The common factors of these Busch’s incident and this crash are actually few. They both took place in the uncontrolled conditions of public roadways. They both involve extremely fast cars.
2011 Dodge Challenger
But one driver is a highly skilled professional race car driver. Some would even argue he's the best in the world.
The other was a boy.
In the reckless driving incident, Busch was driving a $350,000 Lexus LFA sports car 128 mph through a residential area marked with a 45-mph speed limit.
He was stopped in the middle of the afternoon on a winding road where there are several neighborhoods, a church and a day-care nearby.
The fatal crash that killed the boys happened at about 8:40 p.m. on a rural road in Wake County, North Carolina. An N.C. Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team found that the Dodge Challenger was going 90 mph when it hit a tree, roof first. Data retrieved from the car showed it was going 129 mph five seconds before it crashed, news reports said. The speed limit on that part of Old Pearce Road is 55 mph.
NASCAR’s lawless moonshining roots from its early days have always been a major part of its attraction. And even today, the rowdy behavior, the feuds and rivalries, the bumps and shoves and traded paint add spice to the flavor of the sport.
But those outlaw days are gone. The need for speed has to be fulfilled on the track -- and only on the track.
We can’t really know how much the bad behavior of a driver will turn into a bad example for young people.
But it can’t be good.