Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baseball is Not Just Hitting a Ball With a Stick, and Driving a Race Car is Not Just Sitting and Turning a Wheel

IndyCar's Tony Kannan
Clearly a donut eating
couch potato
You're welcome ladies
This comes up fairly often in internet message-boards and in casual conversations, and usually with American football fans, and I honestly can't do more but roll my every time I hear it. Its now recently coming from Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. Race car drivers are not athletes, and its always the same fairytale excuse: "they're just driving a car, I do that every day."

Only you don't do that every day. That's like telling a F-18 fighter pilot you can do what he does because you've flown in commercial aircraft or that you could operate a construction crane because you once got the prize out of a carnival crane machine game.

Equating IndyCar or NASCAR to "just sitting in a car and turning a steering wheel" is like saying baseball is "just throwing and hitting a ball with a stick" or football is just "throwing a ball and running into other people" and soccer is "just running around kicking a ball."

Many people are recently starting to mention J.R. Hildebrand tearing his ACL while doing a rigorous obstacle course that was set up by the National Guard. Sammy Sosa once threw out his back from sneezing. Soccer player Robbie Keane once ruptured ligaments reaching for his TV's remote control. Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear once famously sprained his neck from test driving a a super sports car because it couldn't handle the constant change in G-forces from the sharp turns. Numerous football players have injured themselves while celebrating their scores (Deion Sanders, Bill Grammatica and Gus Ferrotte just to name a few). Injuries happen regardless of athleticism.

The fact is it not only takes the quick reflexes and response time of any sport, but just as much athletic strength to drive a professional race car. The SportsScience TV show proved that IndyCar drivers experience more G forces than fighter jet pilots do. Its less extreme G's than the pilots, but pilots only do it for a few seconds while drivers do so over the course of hours while the cars have no power steering. Ever lose power steering and know how hard it is to turn that wheel, now imagine doing it at 200 mph.+ They don't get breaks every 12 seconds like football players, or sit on a bench every inning like baseball players. NASCAR drivers get power steering, but their races are longer needing more endurance stamina.

Back in the early 2000s, ESPN had a battle of the athletes competition with wall climbing, obstacle courses, running etc. Unfortunately I can't remember if he won or came in 2nd, but I do remember IndyCar driver Tomas Scheckter was in the final matchup. These guys and girls need to be in prime shape to do what they do, many regularly run triathlons or do other rigorous sports to stay in shape.

Back in my former hometown of Baton Rouge, they recently built a pro-level high speed go-kart track, and my brothers (one a varsity baseball and football player who has stayed in shape and the other just recently the Division I runner-up wrestler in Louisiana) were texting me all excited and telling me how much fun they were going to have. I've done karting before so I knew what was coming and called the next day.

Anyone who doubts the need to be athletic to drive a race car simply need to go to a high-speed go-kart track (a fraction of what the pros do), and they'll learn what my brothers did. They had a ton of fun, but even though the tracks usually only let you go out for 8 minute stints, they were winded, tired, and more sore than they'd been in a very long time.

So to any naysayers out there, I just want you to find a good high performance karting track, and give a good 30 minutes of it, and when you're winded, sore and tried, let me know if you still think it takes no athletic ability and only requires sitting in a chair and turning a wheel.


Pat W said...

All good points, he needs to be taken for a couple of laps in a 2-seater somewhere.

Anyway, 'Golden Tate' can't possibly be a real name.

Allen Wedge said...

I don't thin the 2-seater is enough, you sit in the back and ride along. Not until you have to turn a wheel without power steering while going as fast as they can does one truly understand, put em in pro-level karts or even a skip barber type car.

And yeah, awesome name hehe, maybe that's a new GBS article, best names in sports that can't possibly be real.