Fear and Driving a Race Car

(Andy Forsberg of Auburn, CA, has been driving sprint cars since 1994. A second-generation racer, he’s won an unprecedented 10 Civil War Series dirt sprint car championships. He’s claimed multiple track titles at Placerville and Chico and has over 170 main event victories across California and Oregon. This is the sixth of a series of columns.)


Tear Offs • by Andy Forsberg | I would say all race-car drivers have some type of fear or hesitation about something, whether it’s a track, a track condition or a style of racing. Maybe most won’t admit it, but yeah, we all have it in the back of our minds.

I haven’t really talked to too many drivers about it. But most drivers are probably too cool to admit they’ve ever felt scared. But screw that. I’ve raced long enough now where I can say sometimes I’ve been scared in a race car. I think a little fear is a good thing. It keeps you honest.

Take non-wing sprint car racing: I used to love racing without a wing. Without a wing you don’t have the same stability and drivability, especially in the turns at high speeds, as you do with a wing. That big wing on top of the car creates an incredible amount of downforce.

But slowly I started to not like racing without a wing. It was a feeling that I got in the car. I guess you could call it scared. It was something that I wasn’t comfortable with. I just said, “Enough is enough,” and in 2015 I drove my last non-wing race. I got out of the non-wing sprint car in one piece and that was it. I never looked back and I don’t really miss it.

The other day I watched a highlight video of a non-wing sprint car race and watched somebody qualify and they were in the turn with their left rear eight inches off the ground. I was thinking, “God, that just doesn’t look like any fun! I know that is just so uncomfortable!”

I remember I took some pretty good crashes in a non-wing sprint car, and when you crash without a wing, it’s always worse than when you have a wing

God, that just doesn’t look like any fun!

But crashing, in general, doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t affect me. It’s just part of being a race-car driver. Once I get back in the race-car after a crash, I can get up to speed right away. For example, I can remember a while ago at Placerville Speedway, I crashed on the very first lap of the main event and tore the car up, and a week later, I set a track record on my first lap back on the track during qualifying. I always keep that in the back of my mind.

Racing is so unpredictable, and this year has been crazy. I went all of 2018 and never rolled the car once, and now this year I’ve crashed twice in less than a week (April 2019): once at Silver Dollar Speedway and once at Stockton Dirt Track.

The Stockton crash really got my attention. As I was crashing, it hurt. It definitely was a reminder of my age and how you shouldn’t put yourself into a position where you’ll crash. It was nobody’s fault. I just hit the wall and tipped over and it took off, rolling. It made me start wondering—two crashes in six days—what the hell was going on? That was over a month ago, so hopefully I got that out of my system.