Nascar death a tragedy?

A guy was paid millions of dollars to drive a car at 180 MPH and is killed when he loses control trying to block other cars from overtaking his company’s lead cars. Is that acurate? If so then why all the uproar?

How many other car related deaths were there that same day in the US? How about the family racing to get their sick kid to the emergency room when they lost control and were all killed?

Its the same thing with Payne Stewart last year, why is his death an event when the deaths of the players who have to drive from event to event( because they dont have enough money for their own plane) is just a footnote.

OK, the question:
Why does the death of a famous person seem so horrific when we iqnore incidents much closer to us personally?

Just a quick stab at it before I head to the morning meeting. If you or I bite it in a car wreck, how many people are ever even going to know about it? 100? 200? 1000? Everybody in the country won’t know about it. I’d also bet that even your most passionate NASCAR fan would be a bit more affected by one of their own family member’s untimely demise.

I’m not a racing fan; but it looked like Earnhart’s car was nudged, causing him to lose control.

This sounds more like a thread for IMHO, so IMHO this is what I think: People care more about someone they’ve hear of or whose career they’ve followed or who they’re a fan of, than they are of a random anonymous person. “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” (I don’t know who said that.) That is, a death is tragic if you know the person, or if you don’t know him personally you care about him. If you don’t know the dead person, what do you care? People die every day.

Yeah, this is probably IMHO bound eventually.

But geez, after the whole Lady Di thing, you’d think that someone has soaked the govermnent for a grant and a university for a PhD to address this question. On the razor-thin chance that that person is reading the boards, today, I’m going to leave the thread here for a little while.

Wait. Are you suggesting that I weep more for famous people than, say, my friend dying in a car accident? No way.

I think that famous people deaths shock us and cause a bruhaha because at some point we disassociate ULTRA-famous people with being standard human beings. Michael Jordan is going to die someday…but if it was this morning, on the Kennedy Expressway, it would shock us, because we’re used to hearing about him, seeing him, having him in our living rooms all the time. Also, by virtue of being famous, we feel this ‘right’ to know everything about them, so we want to be in on the funeral, the memorial service…blah blah blah.

To some people, my father included, Dale Earnhardt was a sort of hero and inspiration…and to have that taken away is a little rough.

And like others have said, probably 100 million people know who Dale Earnhardt was. Probably 130 know my friend next door. It’s not worth the news coverage…but the people involved grieve just as intensely.

In closing, I quote “WHEN FAMOUS PEOPLE DIE” by the Cleaning Ladies:

When Famous People Die
We’re all supposed to cry
Until our eyes are dry
When famous people die

If they saw us walking by
They would not say hi
But still we’re supposed to cry
When famous people die.

When Famous…People…Die


Someone who is made out to be larger than life is going to be even larger in death.

People who are in the spotlight are put there because people want to see them there. That’s why the death of someone Famous is going to attract a lot of attention.

Dale Earnhardt, as NASCAR driver, was a polarizing individual, either you would root for him or you would root against him, if you followed his sport you knew he existed. As a Human Being he was a hard working, dedicated and thoughful indivdual, he had the respect of his peers, the love of his family, and the reverence of his fans.

Accurate? Yes and no, One of those cars was being driven by his son, and the other by a long time friend. Was he blocking the cars behind him for them? Probably not, he was probably blocking them to maintain his own position more than anything. That’s racing.

“Tragedy” is one of those words that has been overused to the point of it being watered-down. In the classic sense, a tragedy occurred when the protagonist fought a flaw within himself, or forces outside himself, to do the right thing and failed.

Now it has come to mean anything sad, anything at all. Accidents, natural disasters, and dying because of risks willingly undertaken, etc., are not tragedies, as sad or devastating as they may be.

That being said, IMHO people are more disturbed by the death of a “notable” person because of their effect on a larger number of people, in a bigger way. One thinks of all lives the deceased touched and it is sad for that, not for a personal sense of loss.

I guess there were 2 points. one was the famous deaths which has been addressed. But what about the death of a person who seems to be going out of his way to kill himself? Is the public going to realize that auto racing is too dangerous (similar to the boxing problem of the 80s). I would never take my family to an event that there was a real chance of someone getting killed. If I wanted to do that I would go to a tractor pull or thrill show. It seemed fine when Nascar was huddled in the southeast redneck country but now it seems to be budding and trying to pass itself off as a sport instead of the thrill show it is.

I was at MCAS El Toro when a Major crashed his F/A-18 and was nearly killed. A couple of years later I was there when a performer crashed his F-86 and exploded. He died. As much as people try to prevent them, accidents happen. You may as well never take your family on the freeway because people die horribly in grinding agony there. Indeed, more people die on the freeway than at sporting events or vehicle performances. There are thousands of events that happen throughout the country, but we don’t hear about all of the people who don’t get dead.

In addition to the conditions/reasons stated by previous posters I feel that I must add my $.02.

There I was on the floor of my living room (located in North Carolina, Earnhardt’s home state), wrapped in my SO’s Earnhardt blanket watching the race with my SO (a diehard fan since Earnhart’s father was racing) and on the last lap the crash occured. We waited for him to get out of the car (many racers have walked away from wrecks that looked worse). When he didn’t climb out of the car, we waited for news. When we got the news it was not at all what we wanted to hear.

I now understand the disbelief and tears of my neighbor the day Elvis died because he was to rock and roll what Earnhardt was to racing.

I now understand the grief of the nation when Christa MuCullah (sp?) died in the Challanger explosion because she was to students/teachers/anyone who ever wanted to go into outer space what Earnhardt was to racing.

I now understand the horror and pain of the world when JFK died because he was to politics what Earnhardt was to racing.

In every field there is that one name, the one person that the average joe identifies with that arena. Earnhardt’s death isn’t more shocking or horrible than the loss of my grandmother (for instance) it simply touches more lives. Not only have we lost a public figure, we have lost the man that WAS racing.


Hope I have helped shed some light on the situation.

Eh. It was worth a shot.

Off to IMHO.

I have followed racing for a few years off and on, and I was excited for this upcoming season to start. I was surprised by my own reaction to Dale’s death, by the fact that it affected me more than I would have anticipated. I didn’t see the end of the race, but when I caught the news later that day, my reaction was “No, HE couldn’t be dead. He’s the Intimidator!”

I have seen horrible crashes in racing and out on the highways that have been fatal, but this one was hard to take because driving a racecar was something that few people did better, for longer, than Dale Earnhardt. He was one of the best in a sport that requires the driver’s full attention the entire time. To think that there was a situation that he could not get himself out of was unfathomable, but that’s what happened.

I don’t think anyone who is familiar with racing would agree that a driver is going out of his way to kill himself any more than a football fan would think a lineman is going out of his way to kill himself. The object of a race is to cross the finish line first, and within a racing team, it’s to help your teammates cross the line if you can’t. That’s what he was doing when he died.

Do you know anyone who plays golf? Do you understand their passion for a sport that can be simplified down to “a good walk spoiled?” Racers have that same passion for racing, even though some would simplify it down to “drive, turn left.” And, if you ask a golfer or a racer if it’s that simple, I’m sure the explanation could turn into hours, if not days.

I’ll miss watching him race, and I’ll miss the character he brought to NASCAR.

And this means what? Racing was just as dangerous when it was “huddled in the southeast redneck country” (nice phrase BTW :rolleyes:–was it okay when people were killed doing it then?

OH, PLEEEEEEEZE! Sorry, but this bit just killed the whole damned post for me.

To equate the death of a stock-car driver (for whom a violent death is always a possibility) to the assasination of a President (in a much more innocent time than the present) is hyperbolic bullshit. One death affected world history in ways we can only begin to fathom; the other is barely a blip. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not even that.

While I agree with the point about the difference in impact the individuals had, I have to take issue with this. Violent death is also always a possibility for the President. Even in the 60s–as we witnessed with Kennedy’s assassination.

I equate Nascar to the swampbuggy races or monster truck things, or tractor pulls. It’s for idiots and if they want to kill themselves then its ok and if the people want to pay them to do it then its fine. but when the driver of the “GRAVEDIGGER” (thats the monster truck who has a big following) dies or runs into the crowd and kills someone, its not a trajedy, its just a result of a stupid action.

maybe I am wrong about the southest redneck country origin of nascar,swampbuggy, monster truck, tractor pull . IF so then I apologize to all the Merls, Cletises, Rafes and such out there.

I know you can’t call anybody names here, but any who equates the daredevil’s death to JFK or MLK is an idiot (or less than 15 years old).
Sorry it takes a lot to offend me but that bunched my panties.

I don’t think he was trying to say that JFK’s death was equal to Earnhardt’s. I read it as, to the racing community, Earnhardt’s death is the big thing JFK’s was to the world. He wasn’t saying they were equal, but I agree that in the racing community that Earnhardt carries the weight of a US President.

Justin. I understand that you don’t like NASCAR. It’s painfully clear. But I must take issue with your gross generalization of what NASCAR is

My father is a college educated, white collar executive and a genius (OK that last one is just my opinion). He also announces NASCAR races every weekend. When my husband and I are in town to visit, we enjoy going to NASCAR races and I sincerely feel that neither of us are idiots. (He also lives in New York, home of some famous race tracks Watkins Glen, Oswego Speedway…I don’t know if that fits into your “redneck country” definition or not)

Firstly, I do not equate NASCAR with Monster Trucks, but I will address this statement anyway. I would invite you to tell the WIFE of Gravedigger that his death isn’t a tragedy. Not everyone’s death is a tragedy to everyone. But it is probably ALWAYS a tragedy to SOMEONE, Justin, regardless of whether it was a stupid action or not. A three year old child left father-less is ALWAYS a tragedy.

Many people admired Dale Earnhardt for his spirit of adventure, his individuality and his love of the race, and so the grieving is on a larger scale and more public.

And where do you draw the line at what’s stupid and what’s not? A downhill skiing accident? Suicide? Skyscraper Window-washing? Setting yourself on fire for monetary gain? Firefighting? Cooking with hot oil and having it explode in your face? How about being a basketball player…I don’t remember his name, but a few years ago someone died right on the court.

I truly think you understand your OP. Sometimes we bring heartache upon ourselves by running headlong into dangerous situations. For some, life is only exciting when taking risks. I still think that someone’s untimely death is a tragedy to those around them in any case, because someone they cared about was snatched away in an insant.


It might’ve been a possibility, but since a President hadn’t died–much less been murdered–in office in anyone’s lifetime at that time, it was hardly to be expected. We innocently thought the presidency was largely sacrosanct.

To mention Dale Earnhardt’s death in the same breath as Kennedy’s assassination is hyperbolic bullshit. What’s next, Walter Payton’s death… right up there with FDR’s? Socrates’?