News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

July 4, 2012

TRACKSIDE: Retired driver LaJoie spreads the word of safety

In his roles as past driving champion and television analyst, Randy LaJoie has rightfully earned the reputation as a major contributor to the sport of auto racing.

With his driving days now behind him, LaJoie is currently on a bigger mission in the arena that has served him so well: that of making the sport safer. Whether it be at NASCAR superspeedways or the many weekly Saturday night short track ovals that dot the American landscape.

His mission brought him to Lincoln Park Speedway last week as the area dirt oval played host to round 12 of the UMP Summer Nationals series for late model stock cars.

Having personally escaped the potential safety pitfalls of the unpredictable — and at times, violent — ways of racing, LaJoie is doing his best to drive home the need for continued reform in all forms of safety with in the sport.

 Whether his competitors were piloting one of the more powerful late models or entry-level bomber class machines, LaJoie toured LPS pits last Tuesday talking with them.

When he saw the need for a possible upgrade in safety equipment, he didn’t hesitate to make note of it to a driver or his crew. His approach is pretty simple and genuinely sincere.

Yes, he makes his living these days selling safety equipment, but one only has to listen to LaJoie stress the need of safety improvements to fully realize the former NASCAR and modified champion’s total commitment to his crusade.

As a second-generation racer who now has a son racing, LaJoie is well-versed on the ins and outs of the sport. What he sees all too frequently can be disturbing.

“I hate hearing about a racer getting hurt because he didn’t know that the sport is so dangerous. Nobody has told them. Eighty percent of these race cars out here tonight are unsafe. People just don’t know,” voiced LaJoie.

“It’s a good thing the good Lord is a race fan, because if not, we would be burying somebody every week. There are accidents from Tuesday to Saturday. Somebody not showing up to work on Monday or playing with their kids on Sunday because they got hurt. That’s really bad,” voiced the three-time NASCAR Nationwide series champion.

“That’s why I started the non-profit Safer Racers Tour. It’s an education tour. I try to educate people on the dangers and what has to be done to make racing safer ,” he said.

Two of the biggest obstacles his cause faces is the basic mentality of those within the sport and the prohibitive expenses involved with racing.

“We’re [racers] are all gladiators. We all do it for the thrill-the excitement. We approach that it’s [injuries] not going to happen to us. NASCAR had that theory until it killed the best driver we had,” he said in reference to the tragic chain of events that claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt in 2001.

“NASCAR finally said we’re not going to kill anymore race drivers and they haven’t. I think Earnhardt is going to be better known for saving lives as that of being as good of a race driver that he was. Today, NASCAR is the safest form of racing there is the world. They continue to strive for safety.”

Dealing with the costs of driver safety might be an even bigger obstacle to overcome for those trying to make the sport safer. Financially, racers have the tendency to put performance and participation ahead of safety.

“Not many of the guys we see out there tonight do this for a living. If they get hurt racing Saturday night, and miss work on Monday, they aren’t going to have job very long,” LaJoie said.

“That’s why I’m trying to stress to these guys that, yes, a good seat, head and neck restraint might be a $1,500 investment but it could mean the difference of being able to go to work the next day or getting yourself hurt real bad,” he added.

LaJoie is quick to point out that the rate of speed doesn’t always relate to the seriousness of injuries in racing.

“They [drivers] don’t realize that even at 35 miles per hour your body might be strapped to a seat, but your head and neck might not be. You hit the wall and even at that speed and you can be dead.

“Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old kid was killed in Florida when he hit the wall at 20 mph. A mother and father lost a son and I’ve been told his hospital bill for a week was $200,000. How does that equate to a $1,500 investment? When will people wake up?” LaJoie asked.

“I’m trying to get people to pay attention. I guess you could say I’m a farmer trying to plant a seed. Its not always easy but something that has to be done.”

Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@frontier.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
SPT 102613 UNDER TACKLE.jpg

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza 55 on the stop: Indiana State's Connor Underwood tackles North Dakota State's Sam Ojuri during the Sycamores' loss to the Bison on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Local Interest
SPT 071914 DEFENDING CHAMP.jpg

Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterOuch: Defending Men's City Chamion Tom Jones reacts to a missed putt on the 6th hole at Rea Park Saturday morning. Jones is seeking his 9th Men's title.

High School
College
  • ISU basketball trio earn national academic honors

    A trio of Indiana State basketball student-athletes have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court as announced by the national organization. Honored from Indiana State were Lucas Eitel, Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell.

    July 23, 2014

  • Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville

    Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Truebytower.jpg Memorable experience in Morocco for ISU soccer team could help team's growth

    Coming off the best season in its history, the Indiana State women’s soccer team figures to have the experience to do even better in the upcoming fall season.
    Or maybe that’s #TheExperience.

    July 23, 2014 11 Photos

  • Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff

    Terre Haute North graduate Megan Ciolli Bartlett, the state’s 2001 Miss Softball and a two-time All-American at Notre Dame, is joining the Purdue coaching staff.

    July 21, 2014

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

Sports Columns
SPT072114sprints crowd.jpg

Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Records: Near perfect weather contributed to record attendance at racetracks around the state, including the Action Track, seen here.

Pro Sports
SPT 072314 PHEGLEY LINE.jpg

It was the Knights' day: Charlotte's Josh Phegley, center, high fives teammates and coaching staff after the Knights defeated the Indianapolis Indians 8-4 on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Terre Haute Rex
Colts
Auto Racing
AP Auto Racing News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News