This week the World of Outlaws announced they will start random drug testing at races held in 2017. It has been greeted with resounding applause by almost all in the sport. You can check out the press release by the World Of Outlaws HERE .
I for one think it has been needed for some time, but the more I think about it the more I wonder how much good it will do for the sport as a whole. While some fans do not think drugs are a big deal in our sport, and another segment of our fans only seem to worry about drivers who might smoke pot, I am more worried about the drivers who abuse other drugs like prescription pain medicine. But even while thinking about all of this a few things popped into my head.
For a traveling group of the best sprint car drivers in the country to have a drug testing program in place is 1 thing, but what about our local drivers here in Central PA? I think we all want to believe that our local drivers are all drug free and race with a straight head while putting their lives on the line at over a 100 MPH but I am here to tell you that is far from true. Now I have no 1st hand knowledge of this but just looking at statistics there is no way anyone can think we do not have drivers who use drugs on a regular basis.
While looking at Live Science you can see that 1 in 3 people in the United States have a problem with drugs. Now to put that in racing terms using the same stats 8 drivers in a 24 car starting feature could have a drug problem. Now I don't know about you, but that is a very scary stat. It is also estimated that 27.1 million people have used an illegal drug in the past month. Now tell me again how local racing doesn't have anyone racing at our local dirt tracks that use drugs? That would be impossible.
Now most list marijuana as their drug of choice and I will be honest with all of you, that doesn't bother me at all. I am a huge proponent of the legalization of that drug because I don't think it is that big of a deal to use it and neither do most Americans. As Gallup shows, support for legalization is at 62 percent among adults under 30, 56 percent among those aged 30 to 49, 49 percent among those aged 50 to 64, but only 31 percent among those over 65. The problem with marijuana is it stays in your system for so long there is no way of really finding out if someone is using it at home or at the race track. So while I don't see a problem with a driver smoking a joint after a race to help him relax after a stressful night wheeling a race car at 100 MPH I can understand why tracks would just so 0 tolerance for that drug as well.
My big thing with testing for drugs is it has to test for illicit drugs. What is the difference between illegal and illicit drugs you ask? Illegal drugs are pot or cocaine while Illicit drugs are prescription drugs. Anyone who watches the news knows that prescription drug abuse is a major problem in this country because every problem we seem to have has some sort of drug to help "cure" or "manage" the problem. You can read up on prescription drug problem in the US HERE but 1 thing that stood out for me was 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. I remember an article a few years ago in AARN where a local dirt track driver ( not a sprint car driver) talked about after an injury he raced for a few years while under the influence of prescription drugs, and I don't know how many of you have ever had a surgery for anything serious, but I did once and when I took my medicine it totally zoomed my ass out. I laid on the couch and drolled like Homer Simpson staring at a donut. Now that was only after 2 pills that my doctor told me to take. Imagine how some people are when taking 10 or more at a time because they are immune to them. Think about the pain some drivers are in after they crash going into turn 3 at Port Royal or any other track in Central PA and then show back up the next week to do it again. They might only need 1 or 2 to help get them back in the car, but I know from experience that's all it takes to mess a person up for a good while.
Now a big question is how do local race tracks pay for it? Do they charge more to get into a race so they can keep the sport clean? Are fans willing to pay more to see a race just so the tracks can clean up the sport? Looking on the web you can find many different drug test that cost anywhere from $10 to $30 a test. Now most of them are just for local random test. The tracks could use them to see if anyone has anything in their system and if they do they can then send the driver to a local hospital for a better test. If that test comes back hot then the driver must pay for that test. Just another way to help deter drivers from using drugs and having it cost them more money.
One more thing we as fans need to think about when asking for random drug testing at our local race tracks is what happens when a driver gets caught? Are we willing to suffer the unintended consequences of a driver loosing his job because he fails a drug test for pot even though he smoked a joint on Tuesday night sitting outback in his yard while drinking a beer with his wife or girlfriend? The looks said driver will suffer from people in his home town when he gets busted for said thing? How bout his kids? Imagine how his or her kids will feel when they go to school and other kids start talking about their father or mother getting busted at the track for being a drug user. Are we willing to go down that road? That is all things that need to be considered when starting something like this at our local short tracks.
I think we can all agree that drugs are bad for our sport, and it needs to be stopped. The real question is how to do it fairly, how to pay for it, and are we really willing to destroy a driver and his families reputation doing it? Just something to think about.
As always please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject. I would love to hear from all of you on what you think local tracks should do to help control this problem, or if you don't think this is a problem at all in Central PA. Hit me up on TWITTER or share your opinions on the websites FaceBook Page . You can also hit me up by EMAIL .
Until next time have a great weekend and lets all hope the off season goes by quickly.
©Bill McIntyre and Central PA Racing Scene 2016