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April 20, 2016

We've lost one of our own

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.

Comments

  1. 1.
    April 20, 2016
    3:20 pm
    I know the pain you are feeling. Thank you for another great work of art.
  2. 2.
    April 20, 2016
    4:05 pm
    Hi Dave , I loved your story. I seen this coming n Facebook the other day. I give my condolences to Charlie's ford family, I know personally how hard it's going to be now and in the days to come, I lost my son four years ago at the age of thirty. Gone to soon. It was a traffic accident on the freeway, he was doing his job( tow truck driver) . He was starting professional bowler career. We as a family use to work at all American speedway in Roseville Ca as officials and we loved you our job . Theirs only one than I can tell Charlie family is never stop talking about Charlie and the things he did. It will help. It never gets easy. You will have good and bad days it's because your are a very loving family. We the Robinson family give you our condolences and sending prayers too. From David Robinson Sr
  3. 3.
    April 20, 2016
    4:35 pm
    I did not know him but any time you lose a friend or a family member it is hard but on another hand he was doing what he loved like alot of us do you never know about what's going to happen when you race Only the Good Lord above knows what's going to happen it's sad what happens but you know he will never be in pain no more..Rest in piece brother
  4. 4.
    April 20, 2016
    7:02 pm
    godbless you charlie to i see you again god speed.
  5. 5.
    April 20, 2016
    10:57 pm
    Thank you for the story Dave. God rest his soul. RIP Charlie!!!

    Eric Davis
  6. 6.
    April 21, 2016
    10:08 am
    Very Good Story Dave, as you said Charlie was doing what he loved. RIP Charlie, thought and prayers to his family in this difficult time. God will work it out for them..
  7. 7.
    April 21, 2016
    4:54 pm
    Never heard of him prior to Last Friday but I will never forget him. May his family and friends find comfort during these tragic days.
  8. 8.
    April 21, 2016
    8:18 pm
    I am an ex-late model racer so I completely understand the passion that Charlie must of had for the sport. My condolences go out to his family. I think it is very important that something positive come out of this tragedy. Maybe this will be the event that prompt racers and sanctioning bodies to enforce mandatory on board fire suppression systems. I remember that when I raced my number one fear was being in a fire and not being awake or able to activate my fire system. I'm sure that many have the same exact fear today. Everyone should be aware that fully automatic systems are available and are activated manually or via temperature. Sounds like even this system may not have bought Charlie enough time, but it might just be enough to save someone in the next incident. Automatic fire suppression system should be mandatory.
    Please help to get the word out on these systems so that racers can opt for them even if they are not mandated.
    In this way Charlie's tragedy can help save another in the racing family.
  9. 9.
    April 21, 2016
    10:12 pm
    Ken McCleskey,

    I agree with every word you said only to add that according to all the accounts that I've read of Charlie Floyd's terrible tragedy his dirt late model rolled completely over in a pileup and there was a steady stream of fuel pouring out of the fuel cell engulfing his car in flames to the point that all the rescue crews could not retrieve him for five minutes. No automatic fire suppression systemnonboard would have put that fire out. What awareness that should come from this terrible accident is that if racers do not have a leakproof fuel cell at what cost is their life? Is it not worth spending the money to have one to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. Hi know as a new car owner that's the first money I will spend on my race car before I race because I've been warned and so has very other racer that has read theses accounts of Charlie's accident. If you can afford to race you can afford to put safety first at all times not only for yourself but for your family. Like the author of this article wrote, now while this tragedy is fresh on all track owners, promoters and racers minds, everyone should take whatever measures necessary to make the track and the cars and the drivers as safe as possible. Before Dale Earnhardt died the way he did NASCAR did not mandate Hans devices on every driver or closed chin helmets and the added soft walls and safety barriers. They also made the cars safer. It took his death to savecountless drivers lives since then. Hi hope and pray for God's comfort on Charlie' family and friends. But I also pray that his tragic death doesn't go in vain.
  10. 10.
    April 22, 2016
    10:36 pm
    I'll say that if someone sends me a valid postal address to my inbox,I'll send a personal check to the family to help out with some of the expenses.My email is jimmiller600@gmail.com. Thanks.
  11. 11.
    April 23, 2016
    1:58 am
    Jim Miller, there are several ways to help out: www.dirtondirt.com/story_9025.html
    -- Todd

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