Tony Kanaan writes about ‘Why we race’ for The Player’s Tribune

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In the wake of the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson on Aug. 24, one of the most visible faces was Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan.

Kanaan was seen on NBCSN’s NASCAR America and ESPN’s SportsCenter to talk about Wilson’s life and impact on the sport.

But Kanaan and other drivers were also repeatedly about the inherent risks of the auto racing and how to make open-wheel racing safer.

Now Kanaan, who has experienced the losses of Wilson, Dan Wheldon, Ayrton Senna and “more than I care to count,” has shared his thoughts on those subjects in a piece for the Player’s Tribune titled “Why We Race.”

Here are a few highlights from the article:

Auto racing vs other sports – “In every sport, there are great risks. I understand the risks in racing are greater, but when you’re talking to an athlete who loves what he does — whether you’re a football player in a sport where brain injuries are an issue or a race car driver where there are accidents that are sometimes fatal — we don’t think about that stuff. That’s just the reality of our sport. It’s dangerous, and it’s been that way since the day they created the first race car.”

On safety – “We can’t make it 100 percent safe, and we’re okay with that. If you made it 100 percent safe and there were no limits to push and no risks to take and nothing at stake, then anybody could drive a race car. And if anybody could do my job, I wouldn’t want that job. To take away the risk in car racing would take away what it means to be a race car driver.”

Moving on – “To be honest, the first time I was able to relax and not think about Justin after his death was when I got back in the car the following weekend at Sonoma. Once I got back into the car, I could focus on racing. I’m more comfortable in the race car than anywhere else on Earth. It was that most natural thing for me to do.”

Kanaan isn’t first IndyCar driver to be a Player’s Tribune “contributor.” Former driver Dario Franchitti wrote about his life after retiring due to injuries. Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball have also been featured.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.