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Woody: Now We Know Why There’s No Geezer Tour

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 23 2010

Charlie Glotzbach during his earlier racing days. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

A Seniors Tour is fine in golf. But not in racing.

In golf when an old dude hits one out of bounds he simply mutters, drops another ball and keeps playing.

In racing when they hit one out of bounds they go to the hospital.

That’s what happened last Saturday at Bristol when Larry Pearson and Charlie Glotzbach crashed during a Legends race for retired drivers. Both were reportedly knocked unconscious and transported to the hospital. Pearson was treated for a compound fracture of a broken ankle, fractured pelvis and broken hand.

At last report Pearson remained in fair condition. Glotzbach’s injuries were less serious.

The crash was a stark reminder of why a “Legends Serious” proposed a couple of years ago never got off the ground.

It’s too dangerous.

Racing – even on a small track at relatively slow speeds – is never entirely safe. There’s always an element of risk involved. At any moment, on any lap, disaster can strike.

To think that such legendary racers as Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and others of their era would participate in such competition is absurd. They’re too smart to even consider it.

Racing is dangerous. It always has been and always will be.

NASCAR has done a great job of making its Sprint Cup cars as safe as possible – witness such recent tumbles as Brad Keselowski’s upside-down flight at Atlanta – allowing drivers to walk away without a scratch.

But anybody who thinks it’s safe to speed around concrete walks in any type of race car is kidding themselves.

A few years ago a “Celebrity Race” was held at Nashville Speedway. Several country music stars competed, along with members of the media and a couple of area football coaches. They drove deceptively-toy-like Legends cars.

A few laps into the race a TV sports director crashed into the wall. He suffered a severe head wound and almost bled to death en route to the hospital. He spent weeks recovering from the near-fatal crash. That was Nashville’s final Celebrity Race.

There will never be a Geezer’s Tour in racing for the same reason why there’ll never be a Senior League in pro football: Too much hard contact for brittle old bones.

I think it’s a great idea to pay homage to retired drivers by keeping them in the spotlight. Bring them to the track and let them sign autographs. Let them meet the fans. Let them tell stories and ride around the track and wave. Let them do anything but race.

I think we’ve seen our last Old-Timers race. What happened at Bristol could happen anywhere and any time a retired racer climbs into a car. Pearson’s close call should scare some sense into them.

Drivers didn’t become old-timers by pushing their luck.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 23 2010
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • Alan in VA says:

    When I saw the impact on Pearson’s door, I thought we had lost him.
    Thank goodness he is going to recover, but I think the time for these events has come to an end. They all are eager to climb back in the cars, but as we saw they dont have the reaction times and skills required to continue racing. Not trying to be mean to the older crowd, I am approaching 50 and not a sharp as I used to be either.

  • Jerry says:

    These guys are to old to race? I think you must have missed the last lap. Rick Wilson’s last lap was fast enough to have got him in
    the Cup race on Sunday. And these were not even Cup cars.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    I haven’t seen anyone write about how it happened that Charlie G. was apparently still running wide open when he hit Larry Pearson. I remember Charlie G. fondly from when he raced, but I wonder whether he was really up to running at 100+ miles per hour? Maybe Bristol should have used spacers or plates or something to hold speeds down? It doesn’t seem to me that the “why” for the accident has been adequately explored.

    • Alan in VA says:

      I agree he was pretty much up to speed coming off turn 2, didnt seem to slow down much. We all got lucky to still have Pearson around after that impact.

  • Joe says:

    It was certainly foolish to have them at Bristol in Late Models, which are as fast as Nationwide cars but not nearly as safe. Why weren’t they in COTs? Surely there are enough of them around for a race like that.