NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip recently was cited for hitting a motorcyclist with his car and fellow driver A.J. Allmendinger was busted for drunk driving one week later. I did some research. Turns out Waltrip and Allmendinger are not the only professional race car drivers who are a hazard on public roadways. Check out this list of 10 drivers who need a remedial course in driver’s ed:
In 2007 Waltrip was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident after hitting a telephone pole and rolling his vehicle in North Carolina. The accident occurred at 1:50 AM. Police knocked on Waltrip’s door at 2:30 AM. No one answered. Taking a page out of Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick playbook, Waltrip did not speak with police until 8 AM, when he told them he fell asleep at the wheel. Charges were dropped. In all fairness to Waltrip, the cops never said alcohol was a factor. Waltrip struck a second time on Oct. 21, 2009 when he hit a motorcyclist with his Lexus. In this case, police suspected Waltrip had been drinking. Waltrip blew a .06 on a Breathalyzer, which is .02 below the legal limit in North Carolina.
Allmendinger was arrested for drunk driving in Mooresville, N.C., in the early morning on Oct. 29, 2009, one day after this post originally was published. Thank you, A.J., for giving me a 10th example of a driver who can’t handle the rigors of driving in public. Only having nine on this list just made it look like I wasn’t even trying, especially when you consider that one of the drivers is fictional.
In 2005 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch was detained on suspicion of drunken driving and cited for reckless driving after a confrontation with police in Arizona. Busch was pulled over for doing 60 in a 45-mph zone. A deputy smelled alcohol on Busch, but Busch refused to perform standard field sobriety tests and became, according to police, uncooperative and argumentative. According to The Smoking Gun, which quoted the sheriff’s department report, Busch told police, "You guys are a joke, punks. Aren’t you supposed to be directing traffic somewhere?" He then pulled a Russell Van Richmond and repeatedly asked, "Do you know who I am?"
Speaking of Russell Van Richmond, he and J.C. France, the grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, were arrested on Oct. 8, 2009 for possession of cocaine and DUI during a night of high-speed thrill seeking in Daytona Beach, Fla. France, who drives in the Grand-Am Series, was stopped after midnight by police who caught him racing his half-brother Richmond on the Seabreeze Bridge. Richmond threatened a female officer, telling her, "Do you know who I am? I’m a France. We own this city." France failed to stop at a traffic light and swerved on the road before stopping in a parking lot, which, in his head, probably looked really cool.
OK, he is not a driver. Brian France is the guy who runs NASCAR. Still… In 2006 the car France was driving “accidentally brushed against a tree or roadside stump” on a road leading to his apartment. According to Scene Daily, police responded after receiving a telephone call that France was driving his Lexus (NASCAR guys love those foreign cars) “erratically on his way to a Daytona Beach apartment he owns. (Police) determined damage to his 2006 Lexus at $1,500 and did not charge him with any traffic citations, according to police reports. An internal affairs investigation was conducted to make sure that France did not receive special treatment.” As far as we know, he did not play the “We own this city” card.
NASCAR driver Aaron Fike had problems before his run-in with police on the road. Fike was driving in the parking lot of Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio, when he struck a security guard with the side mirror of his vehicle. When police pulled over Fike they found a 100-count box of syringes, bloody napkins and black tar heroin in his vehicle. Fike, who admitted to shooting up heroin on race days, later said the incident saved his life.
In 2008 Danica Patrick received a speeding ticket in her 2007 Mercedes for going 54 in a 35-mph zone in Arizona. A year before that, Patrick received a ticket for going 57 mph in a 40-mph zone and was forced to attend traffic school. According to the Associated Press, she has received several such tickets over the last few years. I like to think this is what happens (scroll to bottom) every time she is pulled over.
Ashley Van Dyke
Who? You might remember her (pictured above) from this story: Van Dyke, a former SPEED TV host and rally driver, earned notoriety in 2008 when she refused to cooperate with a deputy who was directing traffic in Hollywood. She was pulled over and told a police officer, “But I’m a race car driver!” Van Dyke reportedly failed a field sobriety test and a blood alcohol test showed her over the legal limit. Now you can go back to not knowing who she is.
In 2008, a British car salesman was shocked when he was struck at the security gate of his business, and even more shocked to learn the driver of the vehicle that struck him was German Formula 1 champ Michael Schumacher. Martin Kingham was closing a security gate when a Fiat van struck the end of it. The gate hit Kingham’s leg and sent him spinning. Schumacher and Kingham, who was uninjured, exchanged information. Guess it’s true when they say those F1 cars practically drive themselves.
Professional stock car driver Bo Duke and his cousin Luke Duke have been involved in a number of high-speed police pursuits on the back-country roads of Hazzard County, Ga. Clearly, they are a public nuisance. The Dukes have been jailed, and have escaped from jail, on several occasions. The Duke boys currently are on probation for illegal transportation of moonshine. Because of this, Bo and Luke are not allowed to carry firearms and instead use a much-less dangerous combination of compound bows with dynamite-tipped arrows. A local (and very corrupt) politician has pledged to imprison the Duke boys if they cross county lines. In their defense, singer Waylon Jennings says they’re "never meaning no harm."
Post updated on Oct. 29 with Allmendinger drunk driving arrest.