I've really been thinking about this thread almost non-stop. I don't just post to cause controversy. I really write what I feel, and generally don't cause a fuss unless I believe that I'm trying to stand up for what I believe about the sport that I love more than anything else I've ever done.
That said, maybe I've been wrong.
I'm just a few weeks short of 44 years old. My Dad was racing when I was born, and I've never not spent a summer at the track. Between when he stopped racing and when I started, I spent about 15 years cornerworking for both cars and bikes. When I started, club racing was a lot less aggressive than it is now. It was more gentlemanly. The guys who mentored me were mostly older, well established, and very much known for their sportsmanship. Chief among them was Ed Key. Although it wasn't my plan to do so, my novel Highside ended up doing a fair job of documenting that era, those people, and my feelings on what racing is about.
The world has changed pretty drastically since I was born. People fly airplanes into skyscrapers or strap dynamite to themselves to make their point. Drive-by shooters kill half the neighborhood without a thought. Football players cream the QB after the whistle, willing to take the penalty and maybe finish the QB's career in hopes of eliminating him. People drive like they're out of their minds, sawing each other off like it's war instead of commuting. There is no longer any stigma to a girl becoming a stripper. The morals and behavior that were the examples of my youth are old fashioned now. People play by a different set of rules.
As much as the moral ethic of the population has changed in that period of time, it's no surprise that the same ethos has found its way to racing. If the perception of what is and is not acceptably aggressive has mirrored the embracing of violence seen in every other aspect of culture in the last two decades, then maybe it's unrealistic for me to expect racers to race each other like gentlemen. Maybe that era is long gone, and I need to accept the fact. When racers raced each other cleanly, the fast guys still won and the slow guys still lost. But if the perception of what is fair play and what is dirty pool shifts, I guess the fast racers must either adapt or be left behind.
So maybe I'm wrong. Either way, I mourn for what's been lost.