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I wasn’t shocked to hear that Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson was randomly picked from some sixty NHRA professional class racers to, as they say, “blow” into a device that measures one’s blood alcohol level and failed NHRA’s “zero tolerance” rule, recording a .027 (below any state’s level for intoxication). Frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before with a racer.
What did shock me -- although I don’t know why, considering how the rest of professional sports handles drug testing -- is that evidently the NHRA gave the “randomly selected” Johnson a warning that he had been selected for testing and he still managed to fail the test! How do you fail a BAC test when you get a 24-hour advance warning?
One of my questions here is this: Why does NHRA bother to do drug/alcohol testing at all if they are going to warn the subjects 24 hours ahead that they will be tested? It seems obvious they don’t really want to catch anyone.
The other question is why make this personal issue public, embarrassing the driver, the sport, and the Chrysler company (Mopar)? Is it really the public’s business if a driver flunks a BAC test and doesn’t race? After all, they’re just racecar drivers.
If the NHRA really wants to stop their drivers from abusing alcohol during a race weekend to protect them and the sport, why not just line ‘em ALL up every day of the event before qualifying or eliminations and have them blow into the BAC device or pee in a cup?
The reason they don’t is the same reason the police don’t have a roadblock at the exit of every bar. If they did, everyone they stopped would probably fail the sobriety test and pretty soon half the population would be arrested, in jail, or on their way.
I’ve been going to drag races for more than fifty years as a spectator, racer, and reporter, and I’m here to tell you that the night before almost every NHRA race or qualifying day, the local bars and restaurants are full of racers and race officials eating, socializing, and having cocktails. If I’m at the race I’m generally with them. I’m not slinging mud or condoning the practice, I’m just stating the facts.
Don’t get me wrong, I think driving any high-performance race car -- or any car for that matter -- with impaired faculties is stupid and I in no way condone the practice. If a race driver fails a sobriety test, then he (or she) deserves whatever punishment he gets, especially if he had advance warning and drank liquor anyway.
I just wish the NHRA weren’t so sanctimonious about the deal. When president Tom Compton had his own lapse in judgment, I don’t remember any press release on that being made public immediately.
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