MAY 29, 2012 LEGENDTORIAL
by: Tim Leeming
A little over a year ago, when Jeff, through his charity, allowed me to have a 15-minute segment on Tuesday evening’s Racin’ Through History, I came up with the name of “Legendtorial” because Jeff had named me “The Legend” for reasons known only to him and his offer was to allow me to talk about whatever I want. I presumed to envision myself as offering Editorial opinions on whatever the subject of the week may be, thus the name of this segment. Over this time that Legendtorials have been heard, I have laughed, and hope I at least brought smiles to some faces, and I have fumed and fussed about every conceivable offense committed against me by any entity or person I did not particularly like. I have stated strong opinions, which I’ve always tried to ensure were qualified as MY opinions, and such opinions are always subject to comment, pro or con, from anyone who wishes to comment. I always offer my e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, and I answer each every e-mail received. I have made many friends with my comments, and really strained a few friendships over comments I’ve made about certain issues. But, please remember, what is stated in these Legendtorials are my opinions and you each are entitled to yours and each of you are entitled to comment to me at any time.
Tonight, I am going to an issue that causes me great pain. Dave Fulton posted on the Forum this week about the 12-year old race driver, Tyler Morr, competing in the Florida Kids Club Race at Auburndale Speedway was seriously injured in a race and passed away the next day. Research I did on the subject indicates that the Florida Kids Club runs regular events, usually 8 laps, for drivers 10 to 16. Top speed of the cars is estimated to be between 40 to 45 miles per hour. It would seem with the standard helmet and reinforced protection in the race car, the chances of injury would be very low. But, this is racing. Each of us here knows that racing is a dangerous sport under any circumstance.
It takes a special breed of man, or nowadays add women to that statement, to drive a race car. The driver knows he or she never rides alone. Always, in the back of the driver’s mind is the knowledge that a spectre rides with him, and that spectre is always waiting for the slightest loss of concentration to push the driver past the thin edge that separates victory from defeat, or worse, as in the case of Tyler Morr. Even at age 12, I would suspect Tyler was aware of the danger. Surely he was because he was a driver and a fan. He knew of Dan Wheldon and Dale Earnhardt.
My heart breaks for the family of Tyler. Just as it broke for the family of Dale Earnhardt, the family of Adam Petty, and for all those lost in racing since I started following the sport in 1952. My heart breaks every morning when I’m reading obituary reports in the paper and I see kids in their teens and 20s who have died, some in accidents, some of diseases, some by taking their own life. As I sit here writing this Legendtorial, I am very aware of four kids, all under the age of 14, who are fighting monumental battles with cancer. I have participated in events to raise funds for those four kids over the past couple years and each one of those kids would put an adult to shame with the inner strength these kids exhibit in their battles.
To add to the pain of the loss of their son, Tyler, the parents must now endure the looks and comments of those who will tell them that they should have never allowed Tyler to drive a race car at his age. I have already heard many disparaging remarks about parents who would allow such participation in a sport so dangerous. I have heard some of my good friends comment that driving at age 12 is ludicrous. I pray that the parents of Tyler encounter those friends who can say nothing, but can be there for support. I pray that Tyler’s parents can accept that what happened was NOT their fault, nor was it divine intervention to an overall plan of the Almighty to punish them for something they may have done. I pray that those folks with the “good intentions” although misdirected, will withhold their outcry about what happened and consider that what Tyler was doing was what, I think, Tyler wanted to do, and enjoyed doing. There is no mention in the several articles I read in researching this Legendtorial that his parents forced him to drive a race car.
Let us, for a minute, consider this. How many kids die each year in football related incidents? Basketball? Soccer? Skiing? What about teenagers dying because they didn’t fasten the seatbelt? What about drowning? What about teens drinking and driving? All of these considerations open a broad spectrum of what we can rant and rave about in the death of Tyler Morr. I missed the S.T.A.R.S. show Thursday night so I don’t know what position Jerry may have taken on this issue. I have read the comments to Dave’s post so I know the general consensus of comments from our group of commentors.
This is how I feel. Each parent is given the responsibility of raising their child with the best interest of the child as the foundation for their actions. The parent is to care for the child and provide food, clothing and shelter. If the parent is able to provide other means for their child to experience life to its fullest, then the parent has an obligation to do so. For the kid who values soccer above all else, practice and hard work makes a good soccer player and to become a good soccer player it takes a great deal of dedication to the sport. Would the parents be faulted if the soccer player experienced a life-ending injury? For the kid who wants to race, wherein is the problem if the kid is provided with proper equipment and supervision? From all I have read about Tyler’s accident, it was as freak an accident as the one that killed Dale Earnhardt.
To Tyler’s parents I would say this. There is nothing anyone can say or do that will ease your pain. If you are Christian, you know that there is more yet to come for you all, including being reunited with Tyler in the future. The only way you should fault yourselves is IF you were vicariously living your life and forcing Tyler to drive the race car, which is so far from what I’ve been able to learn from my research, then you may need to really consider what that says about you. For any parents out there who may be doing exactly that, re-think that scenario. Over my long years of life, I have seen, and I’m sure most of you have, parents who force their kids to, let’s say play soccer, because it is something the parents want. Or to take piano lessons because that is what the parents want. That is simply wrong.
Mr. and Mrs. Morr, and all of Tyler’s family, my heartfelt sympathy to you all. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you are experiencing. Please remember that there are plenty of us around who care deeply about you as human beings, but moreover as racing folks. Those of us who have been around racing know the loss, even if it hasn’t been our direct family blood. We are, in a way, all family in racing, not to mention that we are brothers and sisters through the God that loves us. Right now it seems that love of God is far away but that is our human perception of a love so great we can’t begin to experience its depth and breadth. I know there will always be that empty spot in your life where Tyler should be. The memories you made in 12 years will fill volumes as you recall those things in the days ahead. Above all, make your memories of Tyler positive. It would be my guess, knowing kids and sports, especially kids who love racing, that the last thing you saw when Tyler was putting on the helmet to go out on the track, was the smile of an innocent 12-year old kid wanting to be a race driver. He was that. An innocent 12-year old kid BEING a race driver. It is not for me, nor anyone else, to criticize or attempt to justify what you did as parents. It is only for us to understand that we have lost a fine young man. Many parents have lost a child, or children, and it is never easy. Tyler is with you. He lives in your heart. He will live in the hearts of all the friends and family whose lives he touched. And he will live in the heart of an old man like me who loves kids and the sport of racing.
God bless you all.
(Editor’s note: Tim Leeming is a member of the regular cast of the Tuesday evening racing show ” Racing Through History”, presented on Zeus Radio Network by RacersReunion®. Archives can be found by following the link. Live broadcasts can be heard from 7:00-9:00 PM every Tuesday. Please feel free to join us in the RacersReunion® Chat Room for the show.)