Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Dan Wheldon knew the dangers of auto racing when he stepped into the cockpit of his IZOD IndyCar Sunday afternoon. The 33-year-old died at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after being involved in a fiery crash at Lap 11 that ultimately forced the cancellation of the race. Ironically, Wheldon was victorious the last time an IndyCar driver was killed in a race. More than five years ago, Paul Dana died at Homestead Speedway near Miami. Wheldon edged out the victory, and then had some prophetic and compassionate words in victory lane.
"Our thoughts are with the Dana family," Wheldon said after winning at Homestead in 2006. "It's a very, very sad day. I think we put on a good race ... but it's just a very sad day. It's a job that can be pretty vicious at times but also can have pretty big highs."
Wheldon knew the dangers, but it doesn’t make his death any easier. Please read the column I wrote for the Charleston Daily Mail after Dana’s death. It still rings true today.
By Mike Jones
March 27, 2006
Everyone involved in racing understands the dangers of the sport.
Drivers, crewmen and fans realize the inherent risks every time the cars motor around high-banked ovals at mind-boggling speeds for hundreds of miles.
Many legendary drivers who have built the sport have died behind the wheel.
Since 1996, 10 drivers from the IRL, CART and NASCAR's top three series have died from on-track crashes.
But the understood dangers don't make it any easier to accept when the racing community mourns the loss of a driver.
Paul Dana, a 30-year-old rookie driver in the IndyCar Series, was killed in a horrific crash during a morning practice just hours before Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Dana crashed into another car driven by Ed Carpenter, who spun out while in turn two. Most drivers slowed in time to miss the spinning car, but Dana, for reasons still unclear, was seemingly unaware of the caution and slammed into the back of Carpenter's car at nearly 200 mph.
Both Dana and Carpenter were airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital. Carpenter was awake and in stable condition Sunday. Dana, however, was pronounced dead two hours later.
In a somewhat surprising decision, the racing series decided to continue with the race just three hours after officials confirmed Dana's death. While car owner Bobby Rahal removed his other two cars driven by Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick, the rest of the drivers prepared for business as usual.
Racing analysts agreed with the decision and said the drivers would be able to block out the tragedy once they strapped into their cars and fired the engines.
But should the show have moved on so quickly?
A man was dead and a family devastated. Dana's wife, Tonya, was informed of her husband's death while attending a church service in Indianapolis.
The high-speed excitement seemed inconsequential in light of the death of a person.
Before the race, ABC covered the tragedy and helped viewers understand the gravity of the situation. But the network barely mentioned Dana's death during the two-hour race.
Even in the face of tragedy, though, Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves delivered a fantastic finish, racing within inches of each other, with Wheldon winning by the nose of his car.
While crewmen cheered and congratulated each other, Wheldon, the defending IRL champion, put the day's events into perspective.
"I think, under the circumstances, we shouldn't really celebrate," he told his crew moments after crossing the finish line.
In victory lane, a subdued Wheldon merely stepped out of his car, quietly embraced his team and then pushed aside questions about the incredible race.
"Our thoughts are with the Dana family," Wheldon said. "It's a very, very sad day. I think we put on a good race ... but it's just a very sad day.
"It's a job that can be pretty vicious at times but also can have pretty big highs."
Sunday's race had both. But the great side-by-side finish didn't seem at all important in light of the morning's tragedy.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Chartiers Valley Patch
March 14, 2011
BRIDGEVILLE, Pa. - After 65 years of waiting, one local veteran finally received proper acknowledgment for his service to the nation.
Ed Schneider, 87 of Bridgeville, is now able to hold the nine Bronze Star medals he earned for his service in World War II.
In a twist of fate shortly after he left the military in 1946, the St. Louis warehouse that stored his service records burned to the ground. It wasn't until last November that he found the help he needed to acquire his honors.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
But it wasn’t the game they were most anxious about.
Instead, Gina went into labor about five hours before kickoff and the couple rushed to West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield to deliver their first child.
“It was the perfect storm,” Chris Tarr said. “The Steelers game kept me distracted so I wasn’t so stressed out. It took the edge off. If I was watching the Super Bowl and they were losing, I would’ve been upset. It made it even keel.”
The delivery doctor initially thought the baby would be born in the early morning hours Monday, but little Eli William decided to make his appearance just as the game ended.
“Almost exactly when they were handing the Packers the Lombardi Trophy,” Tarr said.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Chartiers Valley Patch
Jan. 28, 2011
Little Brayden McQuillan was in the world for less than 10 minutes Friday morning when the staff at St. Clair Hospital wrapped him in a gold Terrible Towel and placed a Steelers knit hat on his tiny head.
“They’re born Steelers fans here in Pittsburgh,” said Sharon Johnson, clinical supervisor at the hospital’s Family Birth Center.
The staff at the hospital in Mt. Lebanon wrapped up 10 newborns in the towels Friday in celebration of the Steelers’ run to Super Bowl XLV. Each baby born this week at the hospital will also be wrapped up in the black and gold, a tradition the staff also did in 2008.
First-time dad Alexander Ameredes said his wife, Rachel, gave birth to their son Alexander on Wednesday, two weeks earlier than predicted. The Collier Township man said he thinks his son wanted to make sure he was around for the big game on Feb. 6.
“I was worried about the Super Bowl,” Ameredes said. “I think he was, too."
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Chartiers Valley Patch
Jan. 26, 2011
In the early 1990s when the Penguins were winning Cups and Pirates were still relevant, I tended to follow those teams rather than root for the downtrodden Pittsburgh Steelers.
They had won four Super Bowls a few years before I graced this Earth, but had fallen on tough times in the 1980s.
That all changed when Bill Cowher took the reins in 1992 and rejuvenated the team and catapulted it to a playoff berth against the Buffalo Bills. However, I still didn’t quite grasp what it meant to be a Steelers fan at the tender age of 9.
That is, until my mother handed me a yellow dish rag and told me to start waving it around.
“Are you crazy?” I asked her. “Why would I do that?"
It’s probably the same question people in Baltimore or New York or maybe even Green Bay ask themselves when they see those golden cloths twirling in the stands. But that was just about the time when I began to understand the lore of the Pittsburgh Steelers and The Terrible Towel.