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What the writers are saying

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 22, 2001

Now, give family peace

NASCAR's report on Dale Earnhardt's crash must not become the Warren Report of sports. Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, and his family don't deserve it.

I hear the exhaustion in the drivers' voices during their interviews. They are tired of talking about Earnhardt's crash and the surrounding circumstances. So imagine how desperately Earnhardt's loved ones must need closure. ...

(The Earnhardt family's) burden is heavy enough away from racing. Junior, in place of his father, walked his sister down the aisle at her wedding. Teresa, alone, will send her daughter off to school this fall.

Both are reminders that, despite the madness, life moves on. I hope this report makes life safer for drivers and more peaceful for the loved ones, starting with Teresa Earnhardt. But I know that can't happen if NASCAR's report takes on a life of its own. -- Chris McKendry,

Report is credible

I don't think they answered every question. But I thought it was very credible, I thought (Drs. James H. Raddin Jr. and Dean L. Sicking) were very credible. But I wish that Mike Helton had said that, "Come Daytona, head and neck devices will be mandated," for example, rather than suggesting that "we're moving toward those things." -- Al Pearce, Autoweek

Safety up to drivers

One has to wonder what other sport could lose three top performers in less than a year to similar fatalities -- hard right-hand turns into concrete barriers producing basilar skull fractures -- and suggest that the time to react was not at hand. ...

At this point, perhaps that is all we can hope. That the individual drivers' sense of self-preservation will step in where the governing body's common sense continues to lag. -- Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

Outlaw restrictor plates

I don't expect NASCAR to do too much besides commission more studies. ... Maybe if (Bill) France Jr. and Helton outlawed restrictor-plate racing we would never see another driver wildly blocking a pack of four or five cars from chasing the leaders. But if that were to happen, it's difficult to imagine TV ratings continuing to blow through the sky. -- Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star

Earnhardt died for ... this?

Old ways change grudgingly, an age-old truth on display Tuesday for all the world to see.

Did a man have to die for this?

Officials who oversee the symphony of speed called stock car racing stepped out of the closet in their quest to recapture credibility.

Did the man have to die for this?

One of the most monopolistic fiefs in sports finally opened its windows and let the sunshine in, a circumstance, if facial expressions on the powers that be provide a clue, greeted with the enthusiasm reserved for swallowing a double shot of castor oil.

Did Dale Earnhardt, superstar, have to die for this? -- Bob Spear, Columbia, S.C., State

Little comfort for drivers

One hundred and eight-four days ago, we were at Daytona writing the unthinkable obituary.

Tuesday we were in a sterile Atlanta hotel ballroom seeking the explanations that finally would put this story to rest. We all just wanted some simple answers to some simple questions. ...

We wanted to leave here certain that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the rest of his racing generation are appreciably safer today than his father was six months ago. They probably are, if only for the fact that NASCAR has become willing to look outside itself for causes and solutions.

But completely safe, certain to avoid Earnhardt's fate and die in their beds at a very old age? No cold science gave us such comfort Tuesday. -- Steve Hummer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wake up, Mr. Helton

If you were expecting the Earnhardt investigation to yield a way to prevent death in racing, you're sadly naive. Nothing said during more than two hours of an extraordinarily elaborate presentation made you sit back and say, "Whoa!" Were you waiting for the great revelation to come out of that session? ...

I flinch whenever I hear Helton say, "We're not just going to react for the sake of reacting." Earth to Mr. Helton: Wake up. You'd be reacting for the sake of saving lives. Anything less than overreacting is inadequate. Remember, 38 lives in 52 years, and counting. -- Michael Wilbon, Washington Post

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