Monday, September 17, 2007

joy and sadness

Joy



Saturday reminded me of all that was good about college football and, by extension, sports in general. A scorching late-summer day, tens of thousands of fans wearing their school's colors (including those brave souls who dare tread on OUR HALLOWED GROUND in enemy hues), beers and burgers at the tailgate, the student section always standing and leading the noise factor, and - best of all - the home team, your team, blowing out their opponent.

The Ducks made a big push to earn even more recognition with their 52-21 blowout of Fresno State last Saturday. The same Fresno State team that took Texas A&M to the wall in three overtimes the previous week folded over like a house of cards in a hurricane against the Ducks. Even more impressive was the defense - not necessarily for the stats, but for their swarming, attacking style to pressure the line of scrimmage, harass the Bulldogs' quarterback, and shut down the run game. This was an almost-perfect game, and hopefully the team won't sit back on their laurels and pat themselves on the back too hard.

Sadness



A true rallying and auto racing legend died Sunday. Scottish-born rally racer Colin McRae passed away in a helicopter accident near his home in Scotland.

McRae - and his young son - both passed away too young (McRae himself was just 39 and still racing on occasion - his long World Rally Championship career had afforded him such a luxury as choosing what he wanted to do with his time). He was a licensed helicopter pilot and behind the sticks for the crash.

This was not the first crash in McRae's life - in fact, his nickname while still competing in rally racing was "McCrash." While this had a negative connotation, it also was given with reverence - YouTube clips abound showing McRae rolling his rally racer, kicking it back into gear and continuing to drive its nuts off. A few clips even include when he continued on a stage with just three wheels through the stage, where he could get the car fixed at the end.

Rally racing in general is hardcore - you have to be very talented and very brave to hurtle a four-wheel-drive car down narrow forest roads, sideways - and McRae was legendary for taking that stance even further. While some fans derided him for breaking machinery, those same people (and plenty of others) are heralding him for the dedication he showed in his driving style to press that hard, that close to the edge of adhesion.

Part of my auto racing viewing diet during middle and high school was WRC coverage on Speedvision (now Speed Channel), when Finland's Tommi Makkinen and Colin McRae were two juggernauts fighting for rallying supremacy. Makkinen in the Mitsubishi usually had the upper hand, but McRae was spectacular - seemingly in the lead or out of the rally. All, or nothing.



Racers like that seem to be fewer and fewer. Ayrton Senna was a god in that sense - he seemed to have super-sensory ability at judging that line. McRae may not have had as much ability as Senna, but by hell did he have more talent than most. Though he was moving more and more into the periphery of rallying and auto racing, he didn't deserve to pass on so early in life. He will be truly missed by racing fans and his family and friends.

1 comment:

firstsuperspeedway.com said...

It's so sad to hear that McCrash has passed away. I agree with you Doug... when getting into auto racing sports, you have to be very talented and brave to hurtle a four-wheel-drive car down narrow forest roads, and on sideways.
We'll be missing seeing him in a race track! May you rest in peace, McCrash....