Driver X: An Introduction, And A Look At The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Rivalries

Driver X is a veteran short track driver who has victories in multiple divisions and has been around racing since childhood. On a semi-regular basis, Driver X will bring an anonymous viewpoint from inside the paddock to RaceDayCT. The views and opinions expressed by Racer X are not necessarily the views and opinions of RaceDayCT staff. 

For introductions sake, where and what I race is not relevant.

I have been involved with racing for a while (how long doesn’t matter), so I’ve been around but there’s still always more to learn.

I will be sharing with you my thoughts on various topics, mostly from the point of view from someone on the outside looking in. I might not know the whole story. But if you aren’t directly involved, chances are neither do you.

It’s the end of the year. There’s that one guy that has been driving you up the wall (maybe literally) all year long and now you have one more chance to pay him back. Or even better, one more chance to have this guy staring into your rear bumper while you win the entire damn thing.

Or you could just complain about much he drives you crazy on Facebook.

Seriously guys? I’ve never been more disappointed than I have in the past couple weeks. The attitude and behavior of some drivers, top-tier included, has reached a new low. It looks bad for the sport and it looks bad for you as a driver. My point is no one remembers or cares about the “feel-good” speech you gave in victory lane two years ago but they remember that one thing you said five years ago that just made you sound like the most arrogant person to set foot in the pit area. What’s even worse is when your team and your fans also share their opinion, which ultimately reflects on you.

I am not saying that various opinions from people of different backgrounds isn’t welcome, but I’m saying that multiple people adding more fuel to the fire isn’t helping anyone. Screenshots exist. Your profile isn’t private as much as you’d like to think it is. You get the point. I am beating a beyond dead horse.

That is not what I wanted to discuss, however. It just supports my main point: rivalries. Let’s take the Fall Final weekend for example.

Everyone lost their mind over how the Rufrano/Narducci rivalry turned out this past weekend. It doesn’t matter who was right or who was wrong. Both are respectable drivers. Both have also done their fair share of dumb stuff on the racetrack.

I think both of these young drivers are so successful because of the focus of both teams is in the right place. Rufrano’s post-race interview did not include any jabs at Narducci. Narducci could have called out Rufrano directly on his social media following the wreck on Sunday blaming him, or vice versa, but instead chose to call out race control instead and accuse them of picking favorites. However, for what it’s worth, Narducci has directly linked videos of on-track incidents on his social media previously with less than desirable comments.

Narducci has his fair share of haters, as does Rufrano, but I think that all of those comments come from what happens on the racetrack rather than what happens off the racetrack. This is important for our sport; this is what makes our sport exciting.

There’s also the surprising (but also not surprising) dramatic Street Stock race on Saturday. This division has impressed me the most this past season out of any division (sorry everyone who pulls for the SK Lights as the best division in New England).

There is a lot of talent here in new drivers and the veterans and I respect these drivers. The Johnny Walker/Tess Beyer “rivalry” is what is interesting to me. What’s disappointing about the entire thing is a two-time champion got his first DNF in my recent memory and he decides to plant the seed with a negative post on his personal Facebook. If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, don’t bother going to look because the content of the post is not the point of this conversation.

The point is that a top tier team with top equipment who is respected by arguably almost everyone in the Stafford pit area stoops to this level. He has the right to be mad, Beyer made this mistake not once but twice that day. And one can’t argue that she is a rookie because she won two races this year.

But why cultivate an environment where you’re making it acceptable to trash a competitor in the comments? What is there to gain here?

Some of the most disturbing comments come from people who have never been behind the wheel of a racecar in their life. “Worst driver you’ve ever seen”? Please tell us about all of the laps you’ve lead and the races you’ve won. At least Walker has some credibility and some validity.

The main point here is that it’s really anti-climatic to carry your on-track incidents over to your social media and this is a prime example.

Moving on. This is old news, but there is also the Ronnie Williams/Keith Rocco rivalry drama from two weeks ago. Williams admitted in victory lane that he basically intentionally wrecked Rocco for the win. Watch that interview and the interview he gave in tech and let me know your thoughts because we probably share that opinion.

I am happy for him, he works hard and deserves every ounce of success he has had in his career so far, and I mean that. Now, Williams and Rocco themselves don’t deserve as much flack for this topic because both are generally pretty quiet and conduct themselves in a professional way. However, I will make two comments. Firstly, I am not alone in this either, most of us were surprised to hear Williams speak and act in such a way during interviews after winning the championship. Some people suspect that this is a team attitude and that leads me to my next point. Your team (or family members) can do just as good of a job slandering your team as you can. Again, planting that seed opens it up to anyone and everyone to give their negative opinion. People are also impressionable and then you have a divide that stems from something that did not even happen on the racetrack. To me, this isn’t even close to exciting or meaningful.

I am all for a good rivalry. I live for that kind of stuff and I think it’s great for the sport when you have a divide and people who pick sides. What I am not for is the pointless mess that some people in the community create on (mostly) social media. Give it a rest. Leave it to the drivers because at the end of the day I am pretty sure that the guy who torques your wheels does not drive the car. Why is it that no one wants to sort things out on the track in the first place? That’s the only place it matters anyways.

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Comments

  1. It was sometime in the early 1980’s. We had just completed a heat race where the start was the usual chaos of point leaders trying get by we mid packers on the front stretch. After the race Jimmy Ward came up to me as I unstrapped and was yelling something about a bad move I made and how I should learn to drive. I don’t even know what I had done wrong cause all I could recall is concentrating on keeping the car moving forward. As the shock and confusion sunk in I blurted something pathetic about trying to learn as he walked away.
    My point is drivers and especially top tier drivers think they are entitled to judge and call the tune the sport should dance to. Predictably this driver is advising better conduct and to leave the scrapes that inevitably are part of racing for the drivers alone to reconcile and to erect a firewall at the door of fan commentary. My view is he misses the point entirely.
    A former regular in this forum, the prickly but wise Crazy in NY likened todays commentary and social media to shouting through the fence of old. It’s everyone that loves racing taking sides and being engaged. It’s race hating which as the death of Ted Christopher proved is not actual hate but more a combination of dislike, jealousy, admiration and appreciation.
    No Driver X I reject what I believe is your premise. You may want racing to be a hierarchy where drivers and the most successful drivers are at the top of the pyramid settling their own scores in private with the teams and fans looking on or oblivious to how the beefs are being settled. I think you view any chaos that spills over to comments here or social media as a bad thing. If that’s your feeling you’re not a student of racing fandom in my view.
    What racing is and has always been in a giant democracy where everyone has a voice. Whether it was shouting through the fence or commenting on social media it’s all the same thing. Furthermore the judging doesn’t stop with the comments inappropriate or insightful. The person making the comment is judged by the wisdom or ignorance he or she shows the world. In this forum we mostly have no identities but each is judged for the wisdom of the points we make or rightfully mocked for our ignorance. You can read it all and write it off as just the ignorant rabble in wildly hyperbolic rants talking about that which they do not know and yes there is a lot of that. Or read carefully and appreciate some of the truly insightful things some knowledgeable fans have noticed and shared.
    Whether it’s TC taking a swing at Pennink in victory lane, Ryan Fearn climbing the fence after a feature win, Williams out of character calling the take out or the grenade of taunts and accusations after the Narducci/Rufrano dust up it’s all good. Excitement and unpredictability. Fans want to see the raw,unfiltered reaction of the participants after an adrenaline fueled finish and want to react ourselves to what we see.
    In the end it’s all engaging, empowering and good for racing. And now I shall be rightfully beat up for this entry I would think which also part of the wonderful free for all that in my view is good for local racing.

  2. Doug, I agree generally with you, especially your last 2 paragraphs. I think this Driver X will bring up some good topics for discussion and with comments to follow from us so let’s give it a chance. We all add our experience and view points, and bias to comments on this forum, with a few friendly jabs, and it makes this democracy fun as we wait for the next race and following drama to unfold. Welcome Driver X. Wait until you meet Dareal!!

  3. Well said SKModFan and to clarify I’m a huge supporter of this new feature even when looking at things from a different perspective.

  4. As a Carolina transplant, I’ve done the Bowman Gray Stadium thing. I love my modifieds. I love the hard on track racing and the on tracks rivalries. While accidents are part of racing, intentionally wrecking should not be. That’s every Saturday at BGS and in my opinion I dont know if the 17000 people that pack the stadium every Saturday would know a good race if it slapped them in the face. My point in all of this is….bed mad or angry, but dont be afraid to talk it out. I’m not talking about ass kissing or feel good moments, I’m talking Bubba Pollard type talk. The whole it’s possible to pass with the brake if you have to type racing lessons. Talk. Social media has made expert racers out of everybody just as Racer X says. I’d rather see two drivers take it out in the track side by side not running guys into the wall, the bump and run rather than a dump and run. As a racers fans and haters are part of this sport, don’t be influenced by others to the point it costs you more than pride.

  5. Can’t wait for humphry to weigh in and demand retina scans, DNA, fingerprints, genome deconstruction, and ask all the same stupid useless questions. Then he’ll declare he was right because the stupid questions weren’t answered. About what, we’ll still never know. Yep, humphry will try to make it look like turning a lug wrench is a paramount prerequisite.

    Racer X wrote, “For introductions sake, where and what I race is not relevant.
    I have been involved with racing for a while (how long doesn’t matter), so I’ve been around…”

    Where you raced is not relevant? Hogwash, Just wait for humphry to tell you otherwise. Well, he won’t tell you, he’ll ask a few questions that he thinks make him look like he knows what he’s talking about.

    What you race is not relevant? WHAT???? humphry will make the case that because you haven’t raced the exact class you talk about, you shouldn’t talk about it.

    How long doesn’t matter? WHAT???? humphry has the right answer to this. Even though there is no right answer.

    LOL!!!! Wait until humphry sees that!!!!!

  6. Shawn why the secrecy of who driver x is? For all we know it could be you. It would be nice to know the drivers background in more specific terms as well. I liked it when you had Ryan Fern and Shawn Foster writing articles. I would love to see a column or perspective from the women racers at Stafford in the street stock or sk light division. We have come along from the power puff races to watching these talented women win races. Just an idea shawn. I look forward to more driver x articles as it’s nice to get another perspective just as it was nice to listen to Rob Janovic on the mic at the speedbowl Bubby Brouwer race. Finally how about an article about the plans that Tom Fox mentioned in one of your summer articles regarding the LLM and LM division. I don’t understand why the almighty great Stafford Speedway ownership allows for 2/5 of their show to be terrible week after week with low car counts. Don’t mistake me the drivers amazing but the races are boring and built in food and bathroom breaks. So please shawn help us suffering fans know what the plans are to fix these two divisions. Thanks.

  7. Racer28,
    All I can say to the idea that it’s me writing the Driver X column is that is if you have that little trust in my integrity or the integrity of this site, I’m not sure what to say. I feel like over seven years I’ve proved well enough that this is a site framed around the journalistic ethics forged in me through 19 years as a sports reporter at the Hartford Courant. I really have no reason to do something so gimmicky as what you’re inferring. The Driver X concept is something I’ve approached a number of drivers about doing over the last couple years. I’m happy to have found someone who I think understands well the concept and idea and who I trust will do a good job with it.
    As far as letting out more information, I think there’s plenty of a description there.
    As far as the Stafford thoughts you asked about, expect some information on that soon, probably the week after the World Series at Thompson.

  8. Can we ask Driver X questions? I’ve got one.
    In looking at the video of the Narducci/Rufrano dust up it looks like on the backstretch Rufrano has been squeezed a half car width to the fence out of the preferred line compared to the other cars. Then the chaos ensues. That took between 1 and two seconds as far as I can figure. That everyone thinks drivers made all these decisions on to wreck havoc on the other. That seems to grant powers greater then the human mind can process.
    Anyway.
    Rufrano never mentioned it but does he look perilously close to the railing before all the drama unfolded? And what would your opinion be as far as how it played a part in how the wreck unfolded?

  9. Stuart Fearn says:

    I like it. Now an annonomous reporter to give an honest viewpoint without fear of getting it from all the haters.
    Looking forward to the next installment

  10. Shawn, my apologies if I came across as questioning your integrity. I just wanted to know why the secrecy when you had other drivers in name write articles. Rest assured I wear your T-shirt with pride and enjoy your site. Now for another idea for the fans in the stands like me to better understand this sport. How about an article on the cost of racing a car for a season at Stafford. Obviously many factors play into it like blow motors, wrecks etc. but if a fan like me wants to go racing in say the street stock division. What kind of dough does it cost to get out there. I see the various prices of the cars but what about the rest. Obviously each division has different costs as the cars are more expensive in the modify division. Just an idea for a story. Keep up the good work

  11. Outstanding save Racer. Knew you’d do the right thing.
    An article on the expense of racing. I’d think if you’re trying to advance the sport locally that is the last thing you’d want to put an actual number too. It would be too discouraging.

  12. It’s just trash talk.

    Look at what has happened to civility and civil service… Trump is President. He was laughed at while speaking at the United Nations. The world laughed at him. All he does is trash talk and the lemmings LOVE IT!!! To them, it’s additional entertainment. And not only that, you all defend it and him. Look at what just happened with the Supreme Court nominee. It was not a trial, just a job interview. Even the Senators say they hit bottom and started digging. If anyone that was ever suspected of sexual attack was in your neighborhood, you’d make sure your wife and daughters never go near him, and you might even let him know he better never be seen near your wife and daughters. But in this case, you all were all for Kavanaugh just to win, get what you want (whatever that may be), and antagonize the opposition. In the recent wild 81 minute Trump press conference, he stated he was falsely accused of sexual attacks 5 times. The thing is, he has been accused of sexual attacks DOZENS of times. Do the arithmetic. Yet Trump wants you to believe he’s the victim. So think about it… after this disgraceful event, women are going to be even more afraid to come forward and tell they have been attacked. As it is, sexual attacks are one of the least reported crimes. Our society automatically blames the woman for being attacked. How can that be possible? So wonder about your daughters and wives, and how the chances are very good that they have been attacked and are afraid to tell anyone, including you.

    What does that have to do with racing? EVERYTHING! It’s all about selling a narrative. Listen to the two drivers… each states the other is wrong, each states he was the victim of the other driver, yadayadayada. Same story over and over. Last lap at Loudon will always be the same… lead car gets taken out by the 2P car. That’s the way it is, because that’s the way it’s always been, because that’s racing. That’s Loudon, and Loudon happens. JBon and Preece were brutally honest and even said so. The same result would have happened if the cars were reversed. That was a breath of fresh air, two guys being honest, not advocating their position. Here’s the interesting thing about that dustup… it went away almost instantly. The two drivers said what was the truth and the lemmings had nothing to whine about. It was beautiful and hilarious. The tribes had nothing to fight about. Be a fan, but when your favorite driver or car screws up, admit it. Don’t try to blame everything and everyone else for your driver’s mistake.

    Stop being tribal, think for yourself.

    Go watch “Lord of the Flies” for a refresher on tribalism and see what you look like.

  13. Driver X wrote, “I am all for a good rivalry. I live for that kind of stuff and I think it’s great for the sport when you have a divide and people who pick sides. What I am not for is the pointless mess that some people in the community create on (mostly) social media. Give it a rest. Leave it to the drivers because at the end of the day I am pretty sure that the guy who torques your wheels does not drive the car. Why is it that no one wants to sort things out on the track in the first place? That’s the only place it matters anyways.”

    Well, apparently the rivalry is about something other than racing. Racing is all about each team striving to be the first one across the finish line. A rivalry appears to have no bounds and anything goes. Once someone goes there, the gloves are off, all’s fair in love and war. Have at it, girls and boys. And that means taking competitors out any way possible.

    I’m a fan of racing. I have a few owners, drivers and cars that I like to see do well. None that I will fight for. First and foremost, I want to see a good race, regardless of the finishing order.

    Interestingly, there is only one winner of a race, yet there are usually about 15 victims that were robbed of the win in every race. [sarcasm alert] When you listen to them after the race, they are so sure they had the win, but somebody took them out. And they say this race after race after race after race. Listen to them, you’ll believe that every one of them should have won every race.

    When the selling, proselytizing, advocating, playing-the-victim-card, etc. backs down a bit or more, and fans become fans of the sport, it can be fun again. When the rivalry looks like the Hatfields vs the McCoys, it’s not good for the sport. Can’t have drivers taking each other out, wrecking equipment. That just makes for bad blood that doesn’t go away. Grudges remain and linger forever. It’s not good at all. And it festers and foments on social media, and perpetuates on and on because of social media.

    Years ago, the pits were like a party at every event, everyone having fun. Just about everyone was friendly. Now, teams stay to themselves, and everybody leaves as quickly as possible. What happened? It’s not fun anymore. This pre-dates social media. Perhaps NASCAR and/or the tracks should mandate pit parties after the race, just so people have to mingle and talk things out right then and there.

    Let’s recall a recent event, the last lap at Loudon. The incident between JBon and Preece. No acrimony, both acknowledged it was last lap racing at Loudon, and that’s the way it happens. JBon said the same could have happened if Preece was in the lead and he was the trailing car. It sucked, but both acknowledged it was racing.

  14. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

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