Racers like to talk. We call our discussions bench racing. Usually the subject is a pleasant one, how a certain BMW ended up in the gravel pit, what makes a 944 go fast, who made a great pass. But we’d gathered to put Glenn in the ground, so much of the conversation centered on the accident that took his life.
What caused it? Was he doing something wrong as first reports suggested? Talking to eyewitnesses suggested the opposite: Glenn’ has always been a safe worker. Witnesses said his actions were normal and responsible. Did race control screw up? Nope. The call was made quickly from the station. Control called an immediate red flag and got ambulance on track within 30 seconds, even before the cars had all stopped. Certainly it wasn’t the fault of the student driver. One simply does not crucify a driver for spinning a car at 120 MPH. We criticize him for not trying. Glenn’s death seems more like a cascade of low-probability events, the opposite of a lottery win. If I had been standing there you would probably be reading of my end.
I don’t believe in fate. That would required a determinant universe, and what worthy God would will something like the holocaust, Rwanda or the death of husband and father who loved racing more than anything? It wasn’t God or the fate that put Glenn at that corner, or led a rookie driver to make a rookie mistake. God didn’t will Glenn to die.
But trying to find a reason for everything can lead you to "what if’ yourself to death. What if Glenn had stood somewhere else? What if the driver hadn’t jerked his wheel at the wrong time? Where do the questions end?
All events have some cause. NASA has been pilloried by the loss of the Columbia and Challenger shuttles. Memos were found showing that some engineer correctly anticipated the problem that led to each disaster. What the investigations never showed were the ten thousand other memos suggesting terrible dangers that never happened. Was it hubris that led to these tragedies, or simply humanity? We are not perfect. We are not prescient. We can only do our best.
So even if Glenn’s death wasn’t something God wanted, it was His Will. Its what happened. It’s a lot more useful to remember his goofy laugh and joy in racing than to nit-pick his end. God's shoulders are broad enough to bear this weight.
So goodbye Glenn Miller. We argued, but I'm going to miss those arguments. I"m going to miss giving you a nice dark beer so you don't have to keep drinking cheap, lite beer
. I'm gonna miss your jokes. And I'm going to miss working with you, like the time we teamed up to get that Formula Vee
out of the tire wall
. I'm really sorry that you won't see your son Doug race the Improved Touring
C Rabbit you bought for him.
But I promise you Doug will take that car out. We the racers have decided. And I promise to through him a big, mean blue flag
. Just like you would have.