World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz is widely recognized as the best Sprint Car driver in the world.
But that doesn’t give him a free ride or special treatment when he races in Australia. He is subject to the same drug-testing procedures as the locals.
And he doesn’t mind. Not one bit.
“I don’t think there is any question with the advancements we have seen that drug testing in the United States is needed,” Schatz said in a Q&A with PennLive from this year’s World Finals.
“The problem you have is that the series is so scared right now of not having competitors. They are afraid they have to tell people they can’t race, and they are not looking for reasons to keep people away.
“It’s something I feel is necessary. For a guy’s well being and for our safety, there needs to be testing. Drugs hinder you and affect you. We’ve seen recently the crazy things, good and bad, they do to you, so I’m for it.”
Schatz isn’t alone.
The World of Outlaws are scheduled to run 90 shows in 24 states and Canada next season. The odds are in favor of someone in a pit area somewhere being under the influence in a 24-hour period before a race.
For drivers such as Schatz, Daryn Pittman and Kerry Madsen, that’s a scary thought. They race for a living and safety is a top priority.
“No question it should be done,” Pittman said. “We can’t mandate as a traveling series that everyone who races with us passes one, but it needs to start somewhere.
“It’s long overdue that something be done. I don’t feel it is out of the realm of possibility that our series mandates its traveling guys get tested every so often or at random. Some steps should be taken to verify as many people are clean as possible.”
Testing is already part of the sport. The crew members that drive the rigs up and down the highway have to take a test to acquire a CDL in accordance with the standards set by the Department of Transportation.
Madsen, a native of Australia where testing is legal, doesn’t understand why such standards aren’t carried over to drivers and other crew members.
“It’s mind-boggling that there is no testing,” Madsen said. “I get a little pissed off by some of the comments that we don’t want testing because half the field wouldn’t be racing.
“That’s bull. None of these guys are doing it, but there needs to be testing. It’s an issue. It’s arisen. There is too much insurance risk and liability for it not to be done.”
It’s not like drug testing is a foreign concept in racing. NASCAR has one of the strictest policies of all sports.
A driver with a hard card – NASCAR membership – can be tested at any time. They don’t even have to be on site.
Danny Lasoski, a former World of Outlaws champion and driver in the new National Sprint League, has been a part of the NASCAR process. He raced IROC (International Race of Champions) for a spell and was tested before the season.
And like his fellow Sprint Car drivers, he feels that such policies at racing’s highest level should carry over to dirt tracks.
“I think every driver, every owner, everyone associated with these cars needs to be tested prior to the season,” Lasoski said.
“If there is any suspicion through the year, he may [also] be tapped on the shoulder to be checked right now. With as fast as these cars go, it would take very little for someone to do something to hurt themselves or somebody else.”
There is no reason why drug testing should not be implemented at all race tracks throughout the US these days!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!