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Woody: The Low Light Of 2009

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 30 2009
There are a lot of things about the Jeremy Mayfield situation that defy logic. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There are a lot of things about the Jeremy Mayfield situation that defy logic. (NASCAR file photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

You know things aren’t going well when you get sued by your attorney.

That’s where the Jeremy Mayfield mess has meandered, as the weirdest story of ’09 just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Mayfield’s ex-lawyer Bill Diehl has filed a lawsuit against the suspended driver for unpaid legal fees. Diehl claims Mayfield owes him $371,973.66. Now he’ll have to hire another high-priced lawyer to defend him against his former high-priced mouthpiece.

Mayfield is also mired in a lawsuit filed by his ex-step-mother.

And all the while, his expensive legal battle with NASCAR grinds on.

When you’ve got your ex-lawyer, your ex-step-mother and your ex-boss on your back you know it’s not going to be a happy holiday.

The whole episode would be comical if it weren’t so sad. But there’s nothing funny about watching someone’s life go down the drain.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find it hard to believe that Mayfield – the bright, personable Jeremy Mayfield I knew for some 20 years – could have been so reckless as to mess with methamphetamines as NASCAR contends.

On the other hand I can’t believe NASCAR could accidentally botch Mayfield’s drug test or – the only other possible scenario – that for some reason it would launch a personal vendetta against him.

It’s a sad and sorry case, made all the more tragic by the fact that it never had to get to this stage.

When NASCAR informed Mayfield of the positive drug test back in the spring, all he had to do was quietly enter the prescribed treatment program for awhile, agree to further random testing, and get on with his career and his life.

But Mayfield contended that such a submission would amount to an admission of guilt, which he continues to deny in the face of accumulating evidence. Jeremy believed – and is probably correct – that in his sport drugs are such a no-no that the slightest taint dooms a driver’s career forever.

Athletes in other sports can bounce back from a publicized drug problem. Race drivers can’t.

Now it’s unlikely now that Mayfield will be able to restore his reputation in a court of law. He probably would have been better off to have taken his chance in the court of public opinion.

Certainly it’s hard to imagine how things could have turned out any worse for him.

He’s mired up to his eyeballs in legal problems and debt, he’s lost his race team and he’s never going to race in NASCAR again. Never. No matter what happens from here on out. The Supreme Court couldn’t get him a ride.

His career and his life as he had known it are over.

And with a trial still to come, things are destined to get worse: more expensive lawyers, more embarrassing testimony, more garish headlines. More mud splattered on a mud-splattered career.

Any racer who ever thought about messing with drugs should heed Mayfield’s misery.

If what has happened to Jeremy doesn’t scare them straight, nothing will.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 30 2009
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Jim says:

    Mayfield, like Woods now and all those before, thought he was above the rules. I have no sympathy. He had the chance we all dream of!!

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  • Marc says:

    “Jeremy believed – and is probably correct – that in his sport drugs are such a no-no that the slightest taint dooms a driver’s career forever. Athletes in other sports can bounce back from a publicized drug problem. Race drivers can’t.”

    Mayfield and you are wrong. If NASCAR drivers can’t “bounce back” how do you explain Shane Hmiel?

    Did he not return to racing not once, but twice and then was busted a third time and suspended for life?

    I expect Mayfield to pump out this type of nonsense, but not you Woody, you should know better.

    • larry woody says:

      Marc, Mayfield was referring to the Cup series, where a clean image is vital for a driver. If you believe he’s wrong about that, just try finding him a sponsor.
      Big-leaguers in other sports can come back from drug issues; big-leaguers in NASCAR can’t.