Editor's Blog: Racing's Dark Side - The Death Of Peter Lenz

When you arrive to pick up your credentials at a motorcycle racing event, they make you sign a form. On that form, you are informed that motorsports are dangerous in whatever capacity you attend, and you do so at your own risk. If you don't sign the form, you don't get your passes, that's how seriously they take this.

For this is something that race fans tend to forget: motorcycle racing really is dangerous. For years now we've been spoiled, with riders invariably getting up and walking away, or at worst being flown out to the nearest hospital in a medivac helicopter, making their return with steel pins holding broken bones together, after missing just a handful of races. Only occasionally does it end badly, such as when Craig Jones was killed in a World Supersport race at Brands Hatch in 2008, or when Daijiro Katoh suffered fatal injuries during the 2003 Japanese MotoGP round at Suzuka.

But even those accidents were a sign of how things have changed. In the early years of Grand Prix racing, all the way through to the mid-1970s, Grand Prix racing would lose a handful of riders every season. Protective gear has improved vastly over the years, and the track especially have seen huge changes, with street circuits disappearing, hard obstacles being removed and walls being pushed back as far as possible, and then covered in air fence for good measure.

Deaths are now an extreme rarity, and like Jones and Katoh, bad luck has been the most significant factor in the fatalities we do see. Jones fell in an unusual and unfortunate location as he was battling with Andrew Pitt and Johnny Rea, and was clipped by Pitt as he lay on the track. Katoh's crash was similarly unusual, and he struck the wall at a place that normally never sees problems. Walls have been moved back and runoff improved around the world, but bad luck is one factor that is impossible to design around.

And bad luck is exactly what struck down Peter Lenz during the USGPRU Moriwaki MD250H support race at Indianapolis on Sunday. According to reports, Lenz fell during the warm up lap prior to the race and was struck by another rider, Xavier Zayat, who was following him. Neither Lenz nor Zayat could do much about the situation, and Lenz suffered traumatic injuries that would eventually prove to be fatal. The crash was just one of those things, but it was one of those things that happen to be deadly.

Lenz' death is a tragedy above all for his family, and for the many friends and fans he had around the world, but most of all, it is a tragedy for motorcycle racing. Lenz was a rare talent, a young boy who at the age of 13 had racked up more lap records, race wins and national titles than most riders do in a lifetime. The comment on the results page of Peter's website for 2006 sums up his talent perfectly: "Undefeated in all pocketbike races checkered in North America".

Peter was going to go a long way. He had been coached by Keith Code and the California Superbike School since 2007, and had fans in both the AMA and MotoGP paddocks. Colin Edwards was a friend of the 13-year-old, and followed Lenz' career closely. Peter and his father were already planning the next stage of his career, and a future in Grand Prix racing seemed assured.

Both Peter and his family knew the risks he was taking. In 2009, Lenz suffered horrific injuries when mechanical failure saw him careen into a tire wall at Portland International Raceway, snapping his tibia and fibula, breaking his femur and humerus. The injuries put Lenz out for months, requiring multiple surgeries to fix and a lot of physical rehab to recover from. But Peter was back out racing as soon as he could, and was in the midst of a serious challenge for the Moriwaki championship when he died.

I first met Peter this time last year, at the 2009 Indianapolis MotoGP round. Peter's father Michael had helped me with a few things over the years, and was an occasional visitor to the site. He had kept me abreast of Peter's career through the years, and it was clear to me that the kid from the Pacific North West was a prodigious talent.

The first impression I had of Peter was of a strange mix between 12-year-old and hard-bitten motorcycle racer. He still had an external fixation device on his leg, but was scooting around the paddock on a kick scooter. He looked and sounded like any 12-year-old might, not interested in talking to a balding journalist in his mid-40s, and ever alert to what was going on around him. But any talk of racing saw his ears perk up, and the diamond-hard glint come into his eyes that marks out the ultimate competitor. This, I told myself, was the real thing, a proper motorcycle racer. The fact that he was 12 years old was just a detail, there was one hell of a butterfly tucked away in that caterpillar just waiting to come out.

It was not to be. Bad luck killed Peter Lenz and put an end to his ambitions, and the hopes and dreams of his many fans around the world. The problem, in the eyes of many outside the sport, is that Peter Lenz was just 13 years' old, and a kid that age should not be exposed to such dangers. What, the critics ask, are people thinking, allowing such young children to risk their lives in racing?

The problem with that question is that it is entirely the wrong one to ask. Children risk their lives all the time, playing football, climbing trees, riding horses and bicycles, crossing roads. Motorcycle racing may seem dangerous because of the speed involved, but the risk is actually in the context of the racing, rather than the sport itself.

I put exactly this point to Kevin Schwantz at Brno, after being kindly allowed to sit in on the rider briefing for the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Pointing to the tragic death of Toriano Wilson at VIR in 2008, I asked whether kids that young should be encouraged to take these risks. Schwantz merely pointed to Brad Binder, one of the Rookies, as he walked past, and said "See Brad Binder? He'd be out there doing this anyway, whether we run the program or not. This way he does it at the best circuits, on the best bikes and with the best protective equipment. Otherwise he'd be doing it with cheaper protection, on a beat up bike round an unsafe track."

The Moriwaki Cup that Peter Lenz was competing was a well-organized series run at good tracks with more than adequate supervision. The Indianapolis round was being run with Grand Prix level staffing, a medical helicopter on standby, the world-renowned Clinica Mobile staff on hand to deal with injuries, and with a wealth of experience in assessing the seriousness of injuries sustained in motorcycle racing. The city of Indianapolis has a level 1 trauma center - the highest level of trauma care available in the US - at Methodist Hospital, and a university medical center attached to Indiana University. Though the Indianapolis track has suffered criticism for being bumpy, there were few safer places on the face of the planet on Sunday than at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the start of the Moriwaki MD250H race.

Last year, though we met only briefly, I saw the intensity in Peter Lenz' eyes of a young man obsessed with life, and utterly focused on competing. I'm convinced that if Peter had not been racing motorcycles, he would have been racing bicycles, or boxing, or running, or even just trying to see if he could run to the top of the next hill faster than his buddies. Whatever Peter was going to do, he was going to do it with the utmost commitment and intensity, and to the best of his ability, and that kind of intensity always entails some kind of risk.

Risk is something most people never truly understand, its statistical finesses too complicated and uncomfortable for most of us to grasp. But any motorcycle racer who has crashed and got back up again has a keen understanding of risk, and knows the physical pain that can ensue. Peter Lenz had crashed before and been badly hurt, but had got straight back to racing as soon as he could. He loved the sport, and he loved to compete, and he understood the risks far better than most of those who criticize his family and the USGPRU organizers for allowing Peter to take the risks inherent in motorcycle racing. Despite having intimate personal experience of the risks and their consequences, Peter kept on racing motorcycles. Because racing motorcycles is what he loved to do.

Should perhaps his parents have stopped him? Whenever I spoke to his father Michael, it was clear that Michael also understood the risks that Peter was taking, and they worried him. He had seen his young son get hurt before, and had discussed the consequences of crashes with Peter. Michael did everything he could to get the best possible training for Peter, not just to make him faster, but also to make him safer. Michael spoke of Peter with pride, with love, but also with concern and with respect. Michael was no pushy tennis dad, forcing Peter into doing something he didn't want, nor was Peter some teenage tyrant, demanding that he be allowed to take whatever risks he liked, just for kicks. Both Peter and Michael Lenz thought carefully about the risks they took, and the maturity I heard in Peter Lenz' answers about racing convinced me he understood what he was doing, and what the consequences were. Michael, like Peter, has a passion for racing, but that passion did not exceed the love for his children.

Personally, I don't believe in a god, and I don't believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that people live on in our memories long after they are gone. Their lives, their deeds, their words serve as an inspiration, a guide to us throughout our own lives. Peter Lenz will live on in my heart and in my thoughts as an inspiration, as a young man with an incredible intensity and a huge talent. He may be gone from this planet, but he rides on forever in my memories. Here's how I will remember Peter Lenz:

If you'd like to help Peter's family, a donation fund has been opened in his name, which you can find here. If you'd like to find out more about Peter's career, you can visit his website and his page on the USGPRU home page, or you can read Chris van Andel's tribute to Peter, who Chris worked with as one of his sponsors. And for an excellent analysis of risk and racing, you can read Bob Kravitz' column on the homepage of the Indianapolis Star newspaper. If you'd like to hear Peter himself speak, go and listen to the interview Jim Race did for the MotoGPOD Podcast

When you arrive to pick up your credentials at a motorcycle racing event, they make you sign a form. On that form, you are informed that motorsports are dangerous in whatever capacity you attend, and you do so at your own risk. If you don't sign the form, you don't get your passes, that's how seriously they take this.For this is something that race fans tend to forget: motorcycle racing really is dangerous. For years now we've been spoiled, with riders invariably getting up and walking away, or at worst being flown out to the nearest hospital in a medivac helicopter, making their return with steel pins holding broken bones together, after missing just a handful of races. Only occasionally does it end badly, such as when Craig Jones was killed in a World Supersport race at Brands Hatch in 2008, or when Daijiro Katoh suffered fatal injuries during the 2003 Japanese MotoGP round at Suzuka.But even those accidents were a sign of how things have changed. In the early years of Grand Prix racing, all the way through to the mid-1970s, Grand Prix racing would lose a handful of riders every season. Protective gear has improved vastly over the years, and the track especially have seen huge changes, with street circuits disappearing, hard obstacles being removed and walls being pushed back as far as possible, and then covered in air fence for good measure.

Comments

Thank you Peter

Thank you Peter for inspiring us, we won't forget you.

Total votes: 97

thank you david

you have summed up everything i have been thinking about since sunday in your usual calm, insightful, and honest fashion - with fantastic word wizardry as well. this is the best piece on the subject of peter's untimely exit and the perfect rebuttal to the idiotic crap our safety obsessed society has been turning the story of an accident into.

again, thank you. i'm sure many will read this and say - david once again got it spot on. spot... on...

Total votes: 103

a quote:

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

Helen Keller [Open Door per: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Helen_Keller]

Total votes: 111

Godspeed Peter. You will be

Godspeed Peter. You will be remembered!!

Total votes: 115

Well Said

Good to see you write something David. I hadn't seen much mention about this incident, I had been trying to avoid racing news until I could watch the MotoGP on Monday but I caught a little bit on Facbook... "RIP Peter Lenz". I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know him, I had only watched he videos on YouTube and heard what others had been saying about him, but I came to the same conclusion as you that he was a special kid.

I think some people would shy away from talking about a subject like this, but I think that Peter Lenz definitely deserves to be remembered.

Total votes: 87

I was exactly the same. I'd

I was exactly the same. I'd followed Peter since Motogpod did an interview a year or so ago, was worried when he had his accident last year but was following his spectacular form in this series races via Facebook.

Thanks for the piece David, it's perfectly written and my heartfelt sympathies to all his family, friends and those who knew him well.

RIP Peter.

Total votes: 87

Thank you David

I can't add too much to what Jules has put. He's already said it, you've done a perfect job with a terrible situation. Thank you.

Total votes: 96

God Speed Peter

I didn't know him or anything about him until this weekend but clearly this video showed me he was fast, very situationally aware with a combination of patience and aggressiveness that many riders never achieve.

That he died so tragically through no real fault of his own saddens me no end. We and the world will never know how great he would have become.

Total votes: 90

Well said, David.  Thank

Well said, David.  Thank you. 

Total votes: 86

What Jules (popmonkey) said

Thank you David.

Total votes: 108

Thank you

thank you for posting this.

Please also remember to keep Xavier Zayat in your thoughts. He is having to deal with more than any 13 year old should. A friend who spoke with Xavier's mother reports that he's absolutely gutted over the incident.

Total votes: 117

thanks for the reminder

it is very important to remember that the other rider involved, Xavier, may have escaped physical injury, but is certainly injured nonetheless. andrew pitt had a very tough time getting over what happened with craig jones. andrew pitt is 34 years old.

Total votes: 111

wow ...

Really good point. My focus has been on Peter and his wonderful family. I hope Xavier realizes that it is not his fault ... just a tragic accident.

Total votes: 111

Beautifully written.

Thank you David. That is a great read. It is a huge and very tragic loss.

Total votes: 117

You hit it

Very nice piece, my friend ... and I say that although we've never met. You captured my own thoughts on the subject very closely, particularly appreciated in view of a sadly sensationalistic piece in Canada's so-called "national newspaper" the Globe & Mail today. Which, of course, has never heard of motorcycles or motorcycle racing except in this kind of context. Pathetic.

Thanks for the words.

Total votes: 98

I Agree!

Yes, leave it to the Globe & Mail and almost every other non-motorsport publication to take the sensationalized approach and ignore the facts.

Total votes: 99

Globe Story

I was actually rather impressed with the Globe's story. They took the time to interview former Canadian champ Michel Mercier, who's own son died in a racing incident and seemed to present a rather balanced view of the incident. The responses to the online story were mixed of course but that's the reality of online blogs. Not all are as balanced and respectful as here on Motomatters! I posted a link to David Emmett's posting there.

Total votes: 85

Thank You

David - beautifully written.

Peter: am sure you're riding just as well wherever you are.

Total votes: 97

Thanks

David, you did a wonderful job with this piece. Peter was a very special human being. He was so because of the love, care and attention his parents (and everyone else around him) provided him.

Its especially hard to see his parents and everyone else who did so much for him to be judged so harshly and unjustly. Each and everyone of them are already going through their own feelings of sadness, guilt, and most especially loss of a person loved and endeared by many. They need love, support, and comfort right now. I think you did them a great service by providing these things in your own special way.

I had the special privilege of getting to know Peter and his family a couple of years ago -- at the race track of course. I shared your observations of Peter just being a kid like any other kid, but any talk of racing, and it was like no other kid and few adults I've had the pleasure of knowing. In response to, I think, one of his first wins in 2009 against at least one very well known and successful racer, he mentioned (as he was running to the toilets right off the bike) that he picked up his pace as he just wanted to get done with it since he had to pee so badly. I was almost in tears with laughter. Later the debrief on his race and discussing the track, lines and everything was truly surreal. I was shocked by how much a then 12 year old kid could teach me not only about racing -- but about life and being a wonderful human being.

Its sad and troubling to know that he's gone. I know for certain his parents did *everything* they could to raise a wonderful person and to help him achieve everything he was capable and desired to achieve. Your words do much to provide some comfort to those directly involved and help the rest of us provide a counter to the sensational negative coverage this has been given.
Thank you.

Total votes: 128

Couldn't have said it better ...

Peter's parents supported their son in doing something he LOVED. Very well-worded post on your part ... I think everyone on this site agrees, thankfully.

Total votes: 88

THANK YOU to his family!

In sharing him with us, they offered all of us who love this sport such great hope and anticipation.  It is truly inspirational to see someone so gifted, freed and empowered to excel at such a young age.  Most of us wish we had such an obvious ability, and we all shared in the joy (vicariously) with his family as he developed.

If any of us were told, "You will pass away prematurely, but you will get to choose where,"  who of us wouldn't at least consider the most hallowed of racetracks in his or her home country?

Now, we share in the family's sorrows as well.  It is my hope they find comfort in knowing their son was such an inspiration - and will be sorely missed - all around the world.  His life, even though short, will always be celebrated in our own lives.

Total votes: 112

Prayers for Peter and his family...

that they make it through this horrible tragedy. Having watched their son develop over the past few years it is a stunning loss.

To those that are so ignorant as to lay blame at the feet of the parents I say, they (and families like them) are doing more for the long-term pscychological development of their kids than other parents who let video games, movies and television raise their children. In a world where trophies are now given to all or none so as not to "damage" the losing children or highlight exceptional abilities, this would have been a man ready to face the world.

What better way for a child to develop than to beat adults all over the track, then be able to confidently explain how it was they were able to pick them apart.

God Speed...

Spies for President

Total votes: 88

Way to Go!

Loved your post ... you are 100% right.

Total votes: 111

Well Done!

Thank you David for writing such an exemplary article that is full of compassion yet is articulate and informative.

In USATODAY an article was published with just the raw facts of Peter's death along with his previous injuries. What ensued was a terrible backlash against racing and the parents. Fortunately, there were many posts that just wished the parents well in this tragic time for them.

Most fortunately, the readers of motomatters understand the need for well-organized, sanctioned events replete with proper run-offs and medical staff onsite. All of the future stars of any high-end sport start quite young. And Peter had already shown exceptional skills and so much promise. It's where Stoner; Rossi; Lorenzo; Spies etc. all began.

I wish your article would be picked up by the likes of USATODAY and other publications as a rebuttal to the thin and controversial-building articles they write.

Our hearts go out to the family and close friends of Peter Lenz for their loss. And the future will miss what this could have been.

Well done David ... the best article I've seen on this sad topic.

Total votes: 101

Godspeed Peter

Another great write up David, it brought home the tragedy of this while extolling the virtues of letting our kids try to excel at something they love. Whether it be racing, football, BMX or Hockey we owe it to them to allow them to follow their dreams and their passion. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give them. As Spies For President said it's better than relying on electronic gadgets, etc. to do what they can't be bothered with.

The writeup by Chris from MotionPro was very moving and showed what a character Peter was. I'll never look at a squirrel or gerbil again without smiling and thinking of Peter.

Total votes: 103

I must say I am getting very

I must say I am getting very emotional everytime I come across news and reactions on Peter's fatal accident. I easily qualify as the typical 36-year old trackday guy with a 18-month kid and this tragedy drives me out of my usual cerebral mode. Like most of us, I started following Peter last year thanks to his great interview with MotoGPoD.

I have been a daredevil from my youngest age, always on to test the limits by climbing trees, escalading cliffs, diving from bridges into shallow waters, practicing martial arts, bike riding, etc. and had my fare share of stitches and brokens bones troughout the years. I eventually matured which did not change my attitude that much but made me realize my main (and only?) driver in life is my inevitable death. And let's face it, we are all like that one way or another. Some of us will decide to avoid so-called dangerous situations to try to get as many extra days as possible. Some will make the most of today because tomorrow is not granted and feel most alive when getting the kick of competition (sometimes only with yourself) in high-risk environments like a race track. Some will flip from one side of the coin to the other depending on the situation or their mood for the day. All ways are fine with me but for none provides any kind of guarantee.

I have no big plan in life and try to enjoy each day as much as I possibly can. Peter's death reminds me of the risks, as well as the meaning of my life. It also questions me on what I want for my little boy and that is a tough one to raise a child. All I know is I sincerely hope he will live his life as fully and consciously as Peter did, and that my wife and I will be parents as amazing as Peter's were.

Thanks to Peter and his family for their example and achievement. My heart is with them and Xavier in such difficult times.

Thanks David and MM members for the great posts.

To quote one of my favorite movies: the light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Peter.

Total votes: 72

Peter - what a talented competitor...

The video shows what a competitor and talent Peter was on the track.

Such a tragedy. The incident happened right in front of me and my son at the exit of turn 4. Just as David said in his well written piece, after having seen so many incidents over the years, even though I knew it was a very bad impact I was expecting to hear later that he would be recovering well and would soon be back in the fray on another day at another track.

My son was very concerned and during the subsequent races kept checking his phone internet connection to see how Peter was doing. We didn’t find out until later that night Peter had died from his injuries.

I have not been able to get Peter and his family or Xavier and his family off my mind and each morning I wake up thinking about and praying for them.

As a Christ follower I know that I will get to meet Peter in heaven some day. I believe that the Bible teaches that all who die as a child will be there. I’m looking forward to bench racing with him.

Total votes: 87

Excellent thoughts

Thank you David for your fine, comprehensive writing about Peter Lenz and the risks of moto racing. I had read the Bob Kravitz article on Monday morning and felt that he hit it on the nose, too.

We were there trackside Sunday and truly feel for Peter's family - his own and the family of racers that he had joined as well. I understand why he and others race and love racing so much. I also feel for the young rider who hit him, he must be going through some heavy emotions right now. It was all so unexpected and unpreventable as accidents are. Thank you again.

Total votes: 116

Thank You

Im sure this article will stay with me for a very long time.
its very well put.
a very sad loss. a very rare talent.

Total votes: 98

David, regards your comments

David, regards your comments concerning a god/afterlife, well put and agreed with - realize this is not a forum (for religious philosophy); however, we enjoy/endure heaven/hell in the here and now as a result of our efforts/actions. It sounds like Peter experienced a goodly share of heaven for his efforts and success in this sport he so clearly loved and also, with his injuries, a bit of hell. It also sounds like those who knew, understood and loved him shared much more joy and happiness than tears and sorrow.

Hopefully, IMS has the clout and connections to squash any tree-hugger, posey-sniffer, do-gooder, know-nothing efforts (by over zealous, pr seeking ADA, DA, or pol) to charge criminally anyone and everyone involved in this accident. Again, this is not a forum (for politics.) Must say Well Done, young Peter, Well Done with your allotted time amongst us. As said above, I'm also sure this motorcyle racing community will keep your memory alive and in their hearts.

Total votes: 106

P Lenz...

As always David, this report is so perfect to read, it needs framing.

To loose a racer, in any event, is hard to take, but a young man like Peter, its double hard to take.

So much life in front of him still.

Thanks you for your time in writing this, I do hope Peters sit down to read it one day soon, and see the joy [to so many] their son gave.

My best to the Lenz family
and to you also David.

Total votes: 120

Peter doesn't like mayonnaise

Some months ago I learnt about a fantastic rider called Peter Lenz. It was a great interview on the motogpod podcast. That evening I googled Peter to know him better and found among other things the same youtube video posted here, It's on my favorites since then. Last sunday while reading many news about Indy and Spa, I came across a small note about Peter's death. It was a huge blow, I just couldn't read anymore...

I thank you David for this piece. Your words describe very well many thoughts and feelings shared among many riders, racers and fans and helps a huge deal to put things on perspective.

This kind of writing is unique in motorsport journalism (and journalism in general) and that's the reason why MM is special for the Motoracing community. Kudos.

I will miss Peter Lenz, the sweet kid and the fantastic rider. I will remember him always.
I want to tell his family I share the greif of their loss and their joy of his memory.

Total votes: 93

Yes.

Well done Ciccio. Fortunately the posts on this site have been well-worded and well-thought-out vs. the non-motorsport crowd on other sites who've been judgemental; insensitive; not compassionate ... and just wrong toward the sport and the parents.

I share David Emmitts views on the whole man-made God thing (but I respect those who feel differently). Peter Lenz will live on in my memory while I'm still on this planet.

Total votes: 108

I knew of Peter from

I knew of Peter from podcasts such as MotoGPod and PitPass Radio. While I did not have the opportunity to experience racing motorcycles as he did, I was able to relive a different youth through Peter's words and experiences. As a forty something year old, the thread of life from a young man I did not know, some how intertwined with mine. Thank you Lenz family...

On Sunday I came home from a long motorcycle trip, to read an email from a friend; an article from a newspaper.

While not particularly religious, I do appreciate the ceromonies of varied cultures. In some, it is said when a person dies, saying their name outloud not only help the deceased pass to another side, but also aides in healing those who mourn. Peter Lenz

Peace to Peter, his family,friends and those who observed.

Total votes: 102

Peter Lenz

Like most here, I never had the pleasure of meeting this young man, but watching videos of him riding with such skill, and sheer and total joy made me look forward to cheering him on for the rest of his world beating career. Now, I find myself getting ready to break a promise I made to myself 30 years ago, of never attending another viewing or funeral, for a kid I never knew, but loved all the same. Just want to try to lend some small support to his family, who have been vilified by the ignorant for supporting this fine young man who reached out with both hands to catch the dreams that were within his reach. Watching his interviews, I too was struck by the transformation from really nice kid to a junior John Wesley Hardin when the subject turned to racing, that gunfighter's look that Eddie Lawson was known for. He was a racer clear through, and for his parents not to have supported his quest to reach his dreams would have been truly negligent.

I thank his parents for sharing Peter with us, and to you, David, for such a fine article honoring him. Hats off to the Motomatters community for partially restoring my faith in humanity, after seeing far too many vile comments on other alleged racing fan sites and articles, from cretins at the opposite end of the human race from Peter.

I've no idea how to go about mourning this tragic loss, while at the same time celebrating this young man's life, but I'll be there trying, and undoubtedly crying. Peter earned the best send off possible, and all the respect possible to give him.

Rest in Peace, #45, I too will never forget you.

Total votes: 88

If you go

Please send the condolences and deepest respect of the MotoMatters.com community. I think we all wish the family the strength to recover from this tragedy.

And spare a thought, or a prayer, or whatever you have, for Xavier Zayat, the young man who hit Peter. These are difficult times for him, and there was nothing Xavier could do about what happened. That remains hard to accept, though.

Total votes: 77

I'd be honored to, David.

I am going, and will be proud to offer condolences for those here.

I edited out my wishes for Xavier, that he one day will be able to stop reliving this tragedy and second guessing his every action leading up to the accident. I didn't see the accident, and will never watch the videos of it, but I have no doubt that Xavier did everything possible in the instant available to him to avoid Peter.
No one should ever have to bear such a burden, particularly at 12 years old.

Hope all concerned can find peace, and that anyone who ever watches that video you posted will see the joy that Peter experienced while riding.

Total votes: 99

Finally, a piece of prose and insight worthy of the racer

I have tired of trying to comment on every forum where idiots, who know nothing of the sport, the family or of Peter, type drivel and illogical statements.

Every time a motorbike racer dies I feel like one of our own has been lost; like part of a large family. I felt that way the moment I read the online report that Peter had died. I witnessed the crash but you always hope that the rider will rise to fight another day. I felt sure that, with no ambulance rushing to the site, that it was maybe only precautionary care that was taking so long. Finally, when the ambulance arrived I figured that was a good sign, a quick checkup at the local hospital was ll that was needed. The scene was cleared and the race began.

In my pictures taken of the races that followed, the concrete dust laid at the site of the accident is clear to see; it will be gone of course when I return to Indy in 2011 but I won't forget.
That only transient concrete dust now marks the spot is perhaps appropriate; we want to remember riders for what they did and how they did it; not the spot where their life was lost.

I have tried to contact Andrew Pitt to see if he might be able to offer some support to Xavier. I hope my messages have got to him because he knows only too well what if feels like to be the person who caused the fatal impact even though there was no way to avoid it.

We are lucky to live in a world of Peter Lenz's and Xavier Zayat's and the select few like them. Living the dream: does it get any better than that?

Thank you David and thank you Castaway for passing on the thoughts of this community I have just discovered; please add mine.

Total votes: 95

Risk

Your excellent post and the feelings it has elicited should be the focus of the reader. As should compassion, sorrow, and sympathy for Peter's family. And let us not forget Xavier - he may continue to race and even be successful, but there is no doubt the accident will stay with him for his life. I cannot even imagine what he feels.

"The problem with that question is that it is entirely the wrong one to ask. Children risk their lives all the time, playing football, climbing trees, riding horses and bicycles, crossing roads. Motorcycle racing may seem dangerous because of the speed involved, but the risk is actually in the context of the racing, rather than the sport itself."

Let me add a small point. Airplane crashes grip the world every time they happen. But the number of deaths due to airplane crashes pales in comparison to automotive deaths (and certainly medical deaths). But it is the catastrophic nature and the mass death in a single event that captures the world. As you say, motorcycle racing is no more dangerous than any other sport, and it is "relatively" safe in comparison to other things that people do.

Total votes: 95

Postscript

I attended both the vigil and funeral service for Peter, both of which were well attended. Peter was loved and respected for much more than his talent with a race bike. I did not deliver your condolences or my own to Michael. I felt that, no matter how heartfelt or sincere, another set of condolences from someone he did not know would not help he or his family cope, either with the numbness they felt inside, or with the terrible ache and crushing sense of loss they are going to feel once that numbness wears off.

I recognized a number of his competitors there, and was struck by just how small and young 13 and 14 year olds look. Those young men are really a credit to themselves and their families, honoring their friend while dealing with their own sense of loss.

Seeing Peter's bike, with only a few scratches on the new paint job he was so proud of finished me off emotionally. He would have had no problem picking it up and making the grid, if only.....

Lastly, it appeared as though there were a number of people there, like me, out of place, riders and fans of Peter who came just to offer what support their presence could give, and to say goodbye to a great young man.

Sorry I could not bring myself to pass along your condolences.

Pete Petrosky

Total votes: 95

Thank you

Thank you for going. There is no need to apologize, I think that was a perfect judgment call. Such matters are incredibly sensitive, and it is better to err on the side of caution, rather than intrusion. I'm sure your presence, in addition to so many others, were a comfort and a support to the Lenz family in this difficult time.  

Total votes: 111

Racing risk & sanctioning

I raced off road from 14-18 in NETRA and a local motocross.

Part of NETRA sanctioning was a minimal level of safety equipment the rider needed to wear. The rulebook had suggestions above that. There were also words in there about a replacing a helmet after it dropped from the handlebars or after a crash.

The local motocross didn't have any of that. You we required to wear a helmet, goggles, boots, but there was nothing about helmets being ruined after a blow. It wasn't dangerous, but more could've been done. At the least, I could see what everyone else was wearing compared to non-racers.

By participating in racing, I was more aware of managing my risk. I raced against my peers on the trails and in the sandpits w/o the organizing. I would've done that anyways. But with the official racing, I and my friends, would've been taking more risks and our skills would've been lower.

On another front, I was focused on my racing and fitness. It provided a ready & easy excuse for abstaining from drugs and other risky behavior my peers at school would do.

My heart goes out to the parents of all the racers who have done everything to help manage the risks with their kids.

Total votes: 111

Heartbroken

Can anything be sadder than this for a motorcyclist? Death of a child, death of a motorcyclist, death of a racer.

My heart goes out to Peter's father and whole family.

Ride safe out there people, the risks are real.

P

Total votes: 104

Peter Lenz charity auction for Laguna Seca

Pole Position Travel has dedicated its hospitality suite at the finish line of Laguna Seca to tragic rider Peter Lenz, who was also a guest speaker of ours at the 2010 Laguna Grand Prix. We are auctioning 2 tickets for this. All proceeds go to a charity fund to build an athletic field in his honour.
Please see http://bit.ly/gFUPSA for more details and bidding.

Please share this with anyone, bidding closes on 5/Jun/11

-gordon

Total votes: 97

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