It’s really disheartening to hear that a friend suffered 50% burn in an accident. He wasn’t even driving. The car wasn’t even moving. The stupid car wasn’t even on the track, but in the pit. It exploded, and he was standing in the wrong place. It was totally beyond his control. Or was it?
The incident reminded me of another racing accident. I’m only going to talk about things that happened around me, not distant news printed on the papers — to show you how close they are . For my friends in motorsports, you probably are the ones who told me about it. In this accident, a rally driver slammed his car against the tree on the passenger side, killing the co-driver. I cannot begin to imagine the ordeal the driver had suffered. He might not have broken a single bone, but something must have shattered inside. The co-driver didn’t have control He didn’t have a choice. Or did he? He could’ve refused to become the co-driver. He could’ve chosen to walk away from motorsports entirely. Or could he?
I could recall a lot of incidents either in motorsports or during so-called spirited driving outings. So much has happened over a period of merely three years.
I once witnessed a boy-racer MyVi crashing into the mountain wall in my rear view mirror. He was trying to chase me. Let me make it clear that I wasn’t even trying, and didn’t provoke him. He lost his tail and countersteered. You probably know how the car would snap back. He obviously didn’t. Be thankful that the damage was minor and the driver was OK. I knew because I waved at him on my way downhill. But what if the corner was a lefthander instead of right, and there wasn’t a wall to crash into?
The most interesting touge story was the one about the Satrias (not sure about the exact make). These guys were going up Fraser’s Hill. John and Mike were "playing". That probably included overtaking at blind corners, using road shoulders to overtake, among other stupid stunts I had witnessed in other outings — taking totally unnecessary risks to get a few more inches ahead. John eventually lost sight of Mike in his rearview mirror. When the convoy reached the top, it was Vincent that trailed behind John, and Vincent hadn’t seen Mike. They tried calling him, but there was no answer. Some time later, Mike came walking, covered in mud. His car flew off the road and into the ravine. But he was miraculously unhurt. He had to climb back up with his bare hands. He never joined such "spirited driving" ever again. (By the way, the names were made up.)In a similar incident, the driver took a corner too aggressively. One rear wheel swung off the road at the edge of the ravine. He panicked and stomped on the throttle. The car charged forward, and re-gained ground. Thank goodness. However, he couldn’t stop in time and the car hit the mountain wall. It’s still better than falling into the ravine.
Talk about flying. I heard about the go-kart accident in which the go-kart somehow flew off the track and onto the highway. I don’t remember whether the driver survived. That’s extreme cornering. Makes me doubt the safety standard of the track operator. But accidents can happen even on the straight. As I was participating in autocross nearby the Shah Alam kart circuit, I met Wei Li. He told me his race was paused because three karts collided on the straight. So not "worth it", he said. Another friend’s friend rammed another kart which was trying to "drift". At least that was in a corner. She was sent flying and lost several teeth as she landed. I am not sure that’s "worth it". A luckier guy that I met at the circuit flipped his kart 360 degree. His helmet grazed the road and landed right side up. So he could still laugh and talk about it to me.
I am somewhat afraid of go-karting because there’s very little protection for the driver, much like bikes. A biker friend told me his friends get hurt almost on a weekly basis. He has told me at least two stories about how his friends got killed. One collided with a drunk driver doing illegal U-turn. The biker friend almost talked me into getting a Harley Davidson. I think it’s wiser to stick to cars, especially in Malaysia where people pay very little consideration and respect to motorcyclists.
In Malaysia ,with so many immature drivers around, even TT can be hazardous. TT stands for "Teh Tarik" session. Groups of car enthusiasts gather and talk (brag) about nonsense. One such gathering spot is Kayu Nasi Kandar, Aman Suria, which is a corner shoplot. Drivers of modified cars often storm by the customers who are seated at the road side to show off their rides. Idiots. One night, one such idiot took the corner too hot and understeered. It rammed 6 nice cars parked at the side, right in front of their owners’ eyes. The best part was, the culprit was underage, had no driver’s license, and stole daddy’s car to show off. I didn’t think insurance would cover that.
More about flying. It’s hard to forget how Kylie’s Civic flew into the drain during GRA autocross a few years back. She hit a oil patch and lost control. The side wheels ran up the curb along the drain and the car launched into the air. It’s a miracle that the car landed sideways into the wider part of the drain. It fitted like a lego piece. Kylie suffered only minor bruises. Had she landed a few feet off, the impact could’ve been on her head. We could laugh about it now. The organizer even created a Kylie Award for drivers who screws up big time. But the incident, if you give it deeper thoughts, is scary.
The same goes with the Flying Wheel Award. A competitor’s wheel flew off (I still don’t know how), and nearly hit a marshall. It’s a very funny incident, but only because the wheel DID NOT hit the marshall. The flying wheel was totally unforeseeable. The unpredictably is very unsettling. Much like the fire in Sepang that burned my friend. It is unforeseeable and very unsettling.
Motorsports is dangerous. Safety first. You know that already. Maybe we should stay away from motorsports? Maybe if the victims had stayed away, they’d be fine now. Maybe. But another incident happened just weeks ago — a friend of mine passed on in her sleep. She was in her thirties, only a few years older than I am. She was apparently healthy before. But she just passed away in her sleep without any warning.
So yes, motorsports is dangerous. So yes, safety first. But more importantly, you must admit you can’t control certain things, maybe a lot of things. So even more importantly, live your life to the fullest now. Take care of the people you love. Tell them you love them.
While you still can.