Craig Murto

Craig Murto

Most adults realize that when small children are present they need to watch their behavior and keep their language clean.

Most adults also realize that if they’re representing their sport or their race team, it behooves them to be on their best behavior.

Unfortunately there is always a small minority who ruin it for the majority. That’s why a few years ago my then 3-year-old niece had to hear randomly dropped F-bombs from the spotters stand at a local racetrack.

It’s not really a stand per se as it is a section relegated to spotters. But it was my fault – I knew the minority of that crowd didn’t know how to behave in front of children, or at all, really. I watched one of them start a fight with a mild-mannered reporter one season by constantly ramming his foot up the reporter’s butt as the reporter sat on the bench in front of him. Now that was a brilliant way to get good coverage for the track and his race team, don’t you think?

Unfortunately, I allowed my niece to be exposed to such idiocy. But what of the other families that sat nearby? How do you explain to them that it’s all in the heat of the moment as racing’s a passionate sport? How do you even get them to bring their children back to the racetrack after an unpleasant experience?

Here’s the answer(s). First off, whenever possible, tracks need to put spotters far away from the paying spectators. Fans don’t want to hear the F-bombs and see the pushing and shoving, especially fans who bring their children.

If tracks can’t remove the spotters from the spectators, then warn spotters to behave. They’re representing the sport, their track and their race team. There are children in the stands, and a lot of people work hard trying to promote this as a “family sport.” A couple of F-bombs from the spotters and all that effort goes to waste. Park a few cars because their spotters mouthed off in front of fans and I guarantee you you’ll have the best-behaved spotters in the industry.

It may not be a bad idea to warn spectators who sit near the spotters stand that things can get heated. Signage or public address announcements warning parents with young children that spotters are competitors and don’t always behave like Girl Scouts may help … at least they can’t say they weren’t warned when their 5-year-old starts repeating, “What the f@! was your guy thinking?!”

The same thing goes for fans in the stands. We’re all passionate about our sport, and demonstrate that passion at the track. But be aware of who is around you. The 7-year-old child in the row above you – the one wearing the Kyle Busch T-shirt – doesn’t understand why your middle finger waves at his favorite driver every other lap while you scream profanities.

Just remember to watch your mouth while you’re at the racetrack. It’s a family sport, right? Treat it like one.

And while we’re at it, all of us could take a break from social media.

Whether it concerns local racetracks or major-league sanctioning bodies, reading social media you’d think nobody enjoys this sport at all. The last time I read through the comments of a Facebook post, I got the impression that there are no fans of motorsports left in the world, only those who find fault.

Of course, the problem with that is the impression it gives those outside of the sport. If I’m a potential new fan, why would I go to a track when the people already familiar with the sport bash it constantly?

And more importantly, if I’m a potential sponsor, why would I want to be associated with something that nobody likes, at least on social media?

Children scroll through social media postings. Are you on your best behavior for them?

I understand that people who are content usually don’t have a lot to say; they’re certainly not complaining. But if you really enjoy the sport, be aware of the impression you’re leaving for those unfamiliar with it.

Try this: Every time you catch yourself bashing a driver, a track, officials, or anything about the sport, make up for it by leaving two positive comments. Maybe then outsiders will get the impression that motorsports are a good thing.

Better yet, don’t bash the sport on social media. Treat it as if you’re in the middle of the crowd in the stands, and watch what you say. Children are present.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.