Rounds and Quarters

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Consequence of Racing

Is it a choice to die early? I wonder about this upon reading the news about a boy who happened to die while on a racing competition.

Peter Lenz of Vancouver, Wash., fell off his bike during the warm up lap for Sunday's first race at Indianapolis and was run over by another motorcycle, driven by a 12-year-old. Medical workers in scrubs uniforms immediately placed Lenz in a neck brace, put him on a stretcher and began chest compressions while taking him to a hospital. Several hours later, he was pronounced dead.

At age 11, he was already wearing sportswear uniforms and earned the "expert" license from the American Federation of Motorcyclists, and in March 2009, Lenz became the youngest rider ever to win an AFM race. This year, competing in the U.S. Grand Prix Racers Union series, Lenz had four wins, five podium finishes and was leading the MD250H classification in points. The grown-up resume just didn't match his appearance. Listed at 4-foot-11 and 81 pounds, the baby-faced Lenz described his profession as "kid."

His father's message on Peter's Facebook page was heartbreaking. "He passed doing what he loved and had his go fast face on as he pulled onto the track," the posting said. "The world lost one of its brightest lights today. God Bless Peter and the other rider involved. 45 [Peter's number] is on another road we can only hope to reach. Miss you kiddo." Lenz is the youngest driver/rider fatality ever at the 101-year-old Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Without blaming the victim in any way, the tragedy nonetheless raises the specter of age, and whether teens and pre-teens possess the necessary dexterity and presence of mind to pilot vehicles that can go more than 120 mph. Lenz was 13, and the racer whose bike ran over Lenz is only 12.

This accident raised the issue of how young is too young in racing competitions. Racers insist age has never been an issue. American Colin Edwards was running 250cc bikes at age 17, and Indy MotoGP runner-up Ben Spies was competing on the 125cc circuit at age 12.

"That's not like a bike too big for him, you know, I mean this is our sport, we chose to do it," said American Nicky Hayden, the 2006 world champ who called the death "terrible. I mean, sure, we know going in the consequences."

Surely the boy knew that the consequence for him was death.?

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Anonymous said...

This is so sad he’s only 13 yet he died because of the thing he really love to do. If I would be a parent of a child who loves racing, honestly I don’t know if I will permit him/her. One reason that I would say NO to this is that this sport is equal to accident, and one reason that I would say YES is because, my child love doing it. Whew! This is really a though decision for the parents. Hope that the parents of Lenz would be strong enough despite of this tragedy.

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