Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fiction, really?

Here's my recent experience that makes the Hunger Games trilogy a lot more poignant. My husband works in the tire industry and this past weekend we went to the MotoGP races in Indianapolis. I've never been to a car/motorcycle race before, so I looked at the experience as a research opportunity. We were able to meet two of the racers at a company dinner and also go inside one of the garages on pit row and learn some cool stuff- for instance, the bikes cost in the neighborhood of 1.5 million dollars, and the riders (not drivers, they're particular about that) can make anything from a decent living to 35 million Euros. Holy. Crap.

So we went to the race, were amazed by the unbelievable, eye-blurring speed that these 800 horsepower bikes can reach (over 200 mph) and saw some very skilled people doing what they love.

This morning, Nathan called me to let me know what we hadn't heard at the race: in one of the exhibition races for up-and-coming stars, a 13 year old boy, Peter Lenz, crashed and was run over by another rider. He was pronounced dead a few hours later.

Peter Lenz in a race two years ago. These bikes are much smaller than
the MotoGP bikes, 125 HP instead of 800. AP photo from OregonLive.com

He was a skilled rider and was leading his circuit in points, according to the NYT. His father expressed that Peter had died doing something he loved. No one stuck a gun to his head and forced him to pull out on that track, but he's dead and I am left wondering how different we are than the spectators in ancient Rome. How different is the audience on race day than the spectators in the Hunger Games? Is attraction to risk just human nature? 

People die all the time. A child at my kids' school died a few days before school started as a result of a short illness. Death happens. I understand that. But I can't help feeling a bit responsible. I don't think the riders look at it that way, though.

Collin Edwards, whom I met briefly at a dinner on the Friday before the race, said this about the death of his young friend, "It's a normal racetrack and racing incidents happen. From what I understand, it was a pure racing accident.
"The fact is, it's going to happen again at some point to somebody and we hate it, but we know what's going on when we put a helmet on. We know what can happen." (Quote taken from Sky Sports)

My thoughts and prayers are with Peter's family and those who are grieving in our community.

What do you think? Can things change or are we human, always have been, always will be?


  1. I think every situation requires humanity. Unfortunately, not every person out there has the ability to act human.

  2. Thirteen years old? Ugh. My heart goes out to his family, especially his mother.

  3. Hey Elana and Krista- I know. 13 breaks my heart. It was a bit of a freak thing, they've never had a rider die in their races, or it's been ages, not sure. There's a lot to think about. What's reasonable risk? IDK.

  4. How sad! I hate to hear when young people die. It's so tragic because they have so much living to do.

    I guess we are all at risk every day when we get up and go about our day. We never know what will happen to us or our loved ones. We just need to make sure we tell them we love them and enjoy the moments we have with each other.

    I lost a very dear friend this last summer and I'm still trying to deal with her death. I understand what you mean that some people put themselves in danger and to us it seems needlessly, but they are living their lives as they want and there's something to that. I wouldn't want to take away from them. Would you?

    I'm just saying...

  5. Hey Kathi- that's the thing. We all get to decide what's reasonable risk to ourselves. If I didn't have responibilities to my children, I would love to try skydiving. I know lots of people w kids do skydive, but for me that's not a reasonable risk.

    No, I wouldn't take away their ability to live their own lives, but I'm not sure if I'll ever be a spectator of motorcycle races again. I don't know. It kind of sours the whole thing for me.

  6. This was very thought-provoking, Kelly. It took me a few days to process it and decide what I wanted to comment. So, good job. :)

    I guess the big difference for me between the Hunger Games sick-o fascination with watching people die and the current situation of watching dangerous sports or even reality or talk shows where people rip each other's hearts out on the air (which to me is scarier than dangerous sports) is that the people involved are CHOOSING to be part of it. (Whew, long sentence!) In Hunger Games, they didn't have a choice.

    Still, I thought the whole Hunger Games idea is an important/scary comment on our culture. We are getting so much more caught up in our looks and our entertainment, one can almost see how it could get to the Hunger Games level some day -- God forbid.

    I was so sorry to read about this young boy's death, though, too. You honestly give your life to a sport like that. Sometimes, very literally.

    Take care, my friend!