Friday, September 12, 2008

NASCAR drug policy and NHRA drag racing

Sorry, I know I haven’t blogged in a week. Been kind of busy.

* * *

I don’t want to just completely blow off this thing with Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday and steroids, first reported by ESPN the Magazine this week.

NASCAR said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that Hornaday will not face any sanctions because Hornaday’s use of testosterone cream is considered a “personal medical issue.”

Hornaday was having some issues and trying to figure out what was wrong. At the urging of Kevin and DeLana Harvick he visited another doctor, who diagnosed him with having Grave’s disease. Since he’s been getting treatment for that his health has improved.

NASCAR’s Jim Hunter said “Our substance abuse experts have told us the prescription Ron Hornaday used did not enhance his performance or impair his judgment.”

The only troubling thing about this is that the reason it came up in the first place is that Hornaday got this cream from a clinic in Florida whose owners have pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from online sales of prescription drugs.

According to the ESPN the Magazine story, Hornaday gave a blood sample to a nurse who came to his home and never saw the doctor before getting a prescription for the testosterone cream. He did not, apparently, go to a doctor who NASCAR or the Harivcks knew about and deal with his medical issues through what would seem to be proper channels.

When you’re not well and not sure what’s going on, it’s easy to get frustrated and it’s easy to be talked into trying anything that might work. That is why NASCAR needs to have a better policy about how it supervises its competitors in terms of medical conditions and the use of drugs, prescription or otherwise.

* * *

Thursday night was a remarkable night at the Speedway Club.

Doug Herbert, the Top Fuel dragster driver whose team is based in Lincolnton, had the first big fund-raising event for his BRAKES (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) organization that promotes safe driving by younger drivers.

Herbert started BRAKES after his sons, James and Jon, died in an auto crash in January. James was driving too fast and swerving through traffic when he caused that crash, and his father has never ducked that fact. He has, in fact, used it to steel his determination to try to keep it from happening to other teens and leave other grieving parents, like Doug, behind.

After dinner, Barry Dodson talked about the loss of his two kids, Trey and Tia, and the bond he’s formed with Herbert over their shared tragedies.

After that, some of Herbert’s buddies came to the stage to tell stories. About two hours later, while everybody’s ribs were still hurting from laughter, they held an auction.

Here’s who came to help Herbert – Kenny Bernstein, David Grubnic, Tony Schumacher, Gary Scelzi, Cory McClenathan, Del Worsham, Steve Johnson and – put your hands together for your headliner, folks! – John Force.

The whole program was touching, moving and poignant. Herbert had to go home feeling like he had more friends that he could possibly count. But Force was just off the charts. He did 20-25 minutes off the cuff and it was like watching Robin Williams at the height of his stand-up prowess.

Force was here, then he was there. He was on this topic, then on this tangent. He would interrupt himself in the middle of a story, stop, start another story, interrupt that one, start a third story, stop, finish the second story, go back, finish the third story and then jump right back and finish the first story.

And it was all funny.

A lot of money was raised for BRAKES. If you’d like to help, go to and find out how.

* * *

The first round of pro qualifying for the Carolinas Nationals is about to start at the new zMax Dragway @ Concord. It’s hot and it’s only going to get hotter as the weekend goes along. It will be interesting to see how these guys adapt to this new track. Drag racing fans in this area have been waiting a long time to see what’s about to happen. I will try to get back later for a quick update between the day’s two scheduled pro sessions.


Bruce Simmons said...

It was a bit confusing and disappointing to read about Ron's use, and medical issues.

I've been following him since his early days at Saugus Speedway in CA and he is a pretty decent guy.

It sounds like things have been resolved, at least I hope they have.


Erica Ortiz said...

I'm a bit confused as to what benefit testosterone has on AUTO RACING? I mean, its not like its a physical anatomical competition where stregth affects the overall outcome.

When Bruton Smith does something, its never half-assed. I'm sure that it will be a premiere facility. But its newness will pose a rather difficult headache for crew chief's to navigate. Green tracks are very unforgiving.

Richard in N.C. said...

DAVID- ESPN's handling of the Hornaday story was unbalanced, incomplete, and sleazy. The Evil Empire (ESPN) should be highly criticized, but they always seem to be given a pass by the rest of the media.

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