I’ve been walking around in a bit of a daze for the better part of the evening trying to figure out how I’m going to write up this little “race report,” for lack of better words.
Should I write it like I normally would trying to make jokes and being happy-go-lucky? Should I talk about what some of you already know happened? While I’m still sitting here, pondering on it, I sometimes think it’s best to speak of things (or write them) as you think them…so that’s what I’m doing now.
First of all, I want to mention that a WERA racer passed away yesterday in a solo accident during his race. His name was Joe. He was a Salinas Police Officer. He had a wife. He had children.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen someone lose their life at the racetrack. A few years ago, I saw Allen Rice hit a k-wall at Infineon, never to breathe again. He was a good friend of people that I know. I didn’t know him personally, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget his name. Or what he looked like as he lay there.
Yesterday, I watched, with my 400mm lens, Joseph Pusateri crash his motorcycle, ending his life. I watched his wife run out onto the track crying and trying to fight her way past the corner workers who were trying to hold her back. At that moment, I felt somewhat removed from the situation as I’ve learned to do over the years; watching people crash…some harder than others. Usually they just get up. Or they twitch…or move…at least after a few seconds, there’s SOME type of tell-tale sign of life.
You sorta become immune to it. There’s no more adrenaline rush like I used to get when someone would crash right in front of me… There’s no more tightening of the chest in a sort of empathetic physical reaction like there used to be…There’s nothing more than simply being a robot who documents things that unfold in front of him. Yesterday, while bursting off a sequence of photos of Joe crashing, was no different. It didn’t even seem that severe, to be honest. I fully expected him to get up and limp around a bit and maybe punch the air a few times in dissapointment. He didn’t move. I assumed maybe he was knocked out. He wasn’t.
I’ve seen friends and family members hop fences to try to tend to their loved ones in the past. I simply watched Joe’s wife crossing the track while speculating on what the extent of Joe’s injuries might have been.
It wasn’t until about an hour later that I’d learned the Joe passed away. Suddenly, as I was being told, the image of Joe’s wife flashed through my head. It hit me hard. I don’t even know how to explain it. Suddenly all this emotion that I’ve learned to put to the side to do the job I do hit me hard. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s she’s going through right now. What Joe’s family is having to deal with right now.
I really don’t know where I’m going with this right now…I’ve just been typing as I think. All I know is that a complete stranger to me passed away yesterday doing something that he loved, that I loved, that everyone at that racetrack loved, and I’m pretty torn up about it all. I wish I could turn back time and simply tell him not to race that race, and he’d have gone back home with his wife to Salinas.
Rest in Peace, Joe. I’m so very sorry to all the family and offer my deepest condolences.