Charlie Floyd was one of us, and our collective heart is hurting.
Charlie was much too young to die, and was at the center of a beautiful young family. He was a nice-looking kid with a disarming smile, he gave selflessly to his community as a firefighter, and he was a passionate racer. | Sidebar | Story
You might be thinking of that tired adage that people use to console themselves at times like this: “Well, at least Charlie died doing something he loved.” You know, at the moment that’s just not good enough. A bright and vital young man is dead and there is simply no way to put a positive spin on it.
It was a lot of years ago that I began writing about racing. In the time that’s followed I have been forced to deal with death at the racetrack on too many occasions. Each episode had different circumstances, but the final result still spelled tragedy. There have been long rides home from the track, shrouded in sadness, dazed by what I had witnessed, trying to come to grips with the experience. Each time I try to understand why it happened, but I never do. Time has convinced me that mere humans are not equipped to fully comprehend such profound issues as life and death.
Why would a young man be struck down in the prime of his life? I don’t know, and perhaps I never will. At least not in this world.
At this moment Charlie’s family and friends are dealing with inconsolable grief. They will hurt, they will weep, and they will smile as they recall good moments from the past. Their world will never be the same, and for the rest of their days they will remember Charlie’s smiling face and think of the immense void he leaves behind.
Now is the time for all of us to grieve for Charlie. We have lost one of our own, and in that respect all of us have lost a friend.
Charlie’s death will surely trigger discussions of racetrack safety. Is the sport doing enough to protect participants and fans and officials? Are racers taking the proper steps with regard to personal safety gear? These are valid topics, and such discussion is inevitable. The way we improve ourselves is by utilizing past experiences, no matter how difficult.
Some would insist that such discussions should wait until the grieving process has diminished. Emotions, they say, are simply too high. On the other hand, it could be argued that now is the proper time to talk about this because Charlie’s loss is fresh in our mind. His accident moves the topic of safety front-and-center, which is exactly where it needs to be.
Amid the chaos of the moment we should not lose sight of this: Charlie leaves behind a young fiancee and a small child. Aside from the catastrophic emotional loss, they will face serious financial challenges in the months to come.
This is where each of us can make a difference. There isn’t anything we can do for Charlie; however, we do have the ability to help his family. A Go Fund Me account has been established. If you want to help, send some money. Without knowing the particulars, it’s almost inevitable that the family is facing enormous medical bills as well as final expenses. As the family emerges from the fog of grief they will be dealing with some difficult circumstances.
Sometimes life is long, lasting deep into the winter and encompassing many decades. But sometimes life is brief, cut short in the blossom of spring. Amid the greatest of all uncertainties, life is never guaranteed. Not for you, not for me. Charlie’s loss is a vivid and painful reminder of that.
I extend my most heartfelt condolences to Charlie’s family. I pray they will have strength to get through the next few days and beyond. And I hope all of us — our entire sport — can somehow gain something positive from this unspeakable tragedy.
Rest easy, Charlie. No more struggles, no more pain. Just goodbye … for now.