RIP Lusk, Surtees, and all the others who've left us. And SHUT UP, YOU HEALTH AND SAFETY RETARDS.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It’s been a tough year for motorsport – chiefly because of the high-profile deaths that have brought back into sharp focus the proximity to death these superstars face every time they put their machines into gear and gun their engines.

Chief among the casualties have been Jeremy Lusk - Metal Mulisha rider, Freestyle Motocross superstar and Henry Surtees – F2 driver, son of the legendary John Surtees. Another recent headline-grabbing incident was Felipe Massa’s crash during the qualifying session of the Hungarian Grand Prix. And there must be several others I've missed.

These superstars who straddle the worlds of adventure sport and motorsport have come on board and given the best years of their lives to their chosen sport, knowing full well that their next stunt or race could turn out to be their last.

Which is why this stupid furore that’s been raised by these armchair ‘experts’ over the safety protocols existing in these sporting disciplines and whether they are enough to ensure the absolute safety of the people involved in it, right from the drivers and riders to the girls serving beer in the hospitality areas is totally infuriating. However, not for a moment am I suggesting that a Robbie Maddison should wear a fluffy magenta tutu while performing his backflip.

All I am saying is, ‘LEAVE THESE PEOPLE ALONE’. What more can the FIA do? Limit speeds in Formula One to 2.2287 km/h? Make the X-Games a video-game contest? Mistakes are made. Shit just happens. There is no way one can protect himself against the fickle ways of chance. Each of the people involved in these high-risk sporting events are the best out there. And they are certainly not irrational or stupid or unreasonable. If they think about doing something, it’s because they think and, more importantly they know they can. Whether they will, or whether they go out in a fireball of metal and glory is something they just have to check out for themselves. And they also have to perform the onerous task of filling out gazillons of health and safety forms.

An accident is something that is always waiting to pounce on even the most benign of human endeavours. You can slip in your bathroom while taking a bath and singing ‘Start me up’, bang your head on the faucet and be as dead as a doornail instantly. If you want to protect yourself against this eventuality, don’t take a bath. Ever. But in that case you will end up choking people around you to their deaths, your body is going to be infested with all micro-organisms known to man and you’ll die a slow, painful and, worst of all, malodorous death. And nobody will be applauding you as you go out with a whimper.

Take the bathroom option instead.
In the tribute show put together by ESPN for Lusk, a segment talked about the kind of injuries these athletes have had to endure during the course of their career, and some of the responses were – “I had the entire left side of my torso ripped off”, “The handlebar went through my gut”, “I lost my kidney”, “One of my testicles was ripped off”.

So why do they still do it? These guys also have families – Jeremy is survived by his wife, Lauren. Is it worth risking it all when you can lose the people you love the most?

Of course it effing is. These people risk it because they don't know how to do anything else. They tread the fine line between daredevilry and lunacy day in and day out because they have to. And they aren’t endorphin-addled teenagers going mental with all the horsepower under their right foot or wrist. They are supremely skilled, extremely meticulous in their preparation, and they have a support team that does everything to ensure their safety. But they can’t accident-proof themselves. And I also think they don’t mind dying while doing something they love doing. It’s all worth it.

So, the next time you hear of such a death due to a horrific accident, feel a little sad for the dude who screwed up, and all the people who were behind him. But don’t, for a moment insult his memory by thinking he’d been stupid. He was being perfectly rational. It’s not like he had a choice. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to change anything he’s done in his life, if he were given a chance.

RIP Lusk, Surtees and everyone else who’s no longer with us. We’ll miss you guys. The loss is ours, and only ours.


While I'm eagerly waiting for 'Relapse 2' and 'Detox', I'm listening to 'The Marshall Mathers LP' and 'The Chronic'. Fall Out Boy is also good fun to listen to. All this peppered with the occasional Aerosmith, U2, Springsteen, Sting, Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam song.