Roughly Speaking: The president vs. the press

Bobby Allison

The day that racing stopped

The day that racing stopped

I was covering motorsports for four years before I saw someone die in what might be considered a senseless crash. I didn't know Ricky Knotts, a 28-year-old driver who had spent every dime he and his parents could muster to qualify for the 1980 Daytona 500.

He died on Valentine's Day in a simple crash, a crash exactly like the one that would claim seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt's life 21 years later. I was there for Earnhardt's death, too. Both of those accidents at first glance might seem innocuous, but they were both devastating, head-on collisions into the outside wall at Daytona International Speedway.

When Knotts was killed what struck me was that everyone in the...