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And Another Thing

Associated Press
Peter Lenz, center, poses with California Superbike School staffers, from left, Chief Mechanic Will Eikenberry, riding coach Dylan Code, riding coach Misti Hurst and founder Keith Code.

More on a death at Indy

I've had a chance now to put down eight hours of sleep between the death of 13-year-old motorcycle racer Peter Lenz and what I think about it. And what I think hasn't changed.

It's still diametrically opposed to the argument that Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz makes here.

Here's the thing: Having covered racing in all forms for 33 years and having followed it for most of my life, I understand fully the defense other racers made, through Kravitz, for allowing kids like Lenz to race motorcycles. And I agree with Kravitz when he writes "We want to protect them, never let them cross the street, but in the end, we can't expunge the risks, and we snatch away their dreams at our peril."

I get all that. More than most, frankly. And I have no problem with kids following their dreams, even if it means climbing on motorcycles when they're as young as 5, which was when Lenz first saddled up.

You can follow your dreams. But you don't have to be stupid and reckless about it.

Here's my problem: If the series Lenz was riding in is, as it's characterized, an entry-level series, what the hell was it doing running at Indy? There is no way, none, an entry-level series should be running at a place like that. The MotoGP pros can barely handle running there. But you're going to let 12- and 13-year-olds?

Every time a racer dies, the rest of them trot out the standard argument: Joe Hotshoe knew the risks and was willing to live with them in order to do what he loved. I accept that. I've made that argument myself when racers die.

Adult racers, that is.

But Peter Lenz was 13 years old, and the kid who ran over him was 12. Whatever they knew of the risks came from parents and coaches and mentors. That they could fully comprehend them on their own, at that age (as Kravtiz writes), is simply ridiculous. I don't care how many junior trophies they'd won.

And because they didn't, perhaps, one kid is dead. And another has to live with the fact that he in essence killed him. Lenz' death is tragic enough, but what of 12-year-old Xavier Zayat? Can you imagine having to carry that around inside you at that age? Or any age for that matter?

No, we should never crush a kid's dreams.

But what about the nightmares that come with them? What do we do with those?

Ben Smith's blog.