By Allen Penticoff
On August 6 my wife Ruth and I attended the Rockford Speedway’s Figure-8 Trailer Race. This was not the first time, nor likely the last. Only in America can you witness such a spectacle. Five minutes of utter delightful destructive chaos. There were 40 entries – so it was literally too much to watch at once – a Three Ring Circus.
We had a vested interest in attending. I’ve had a 1979 Chevy Suburban rotting away in the corner of my yard since it was last driven in 2002. Too much invested in its drivetrain – I always thought I’d fix up it’s rotting body and drive it once again. But its 4×4-ness only ever yielded 10 mpg and subsequent Suburbans have proven to be great improvements over this old beast. So it sat. And rotted. Until it caught the eye of my neighbor, who fancied it for the trailer race. A few bills of currency were exchanged and he became the owner. I watched it change before my eyes. Good parts and glass removed. Gaudy fluorescent orange paint applied. Well, we had to go watch it’s fate.
He was towing a “stock trailer” – a thing sturdier than the vehicle towing it. Subsequently, it was pretty much avoided in all the collisions taking place during the five minutes of mayhem of this event. The old Suburban was sparking quite horrendously from the right front – then stopped near the cross intersection never to move again – with its stout trailer defending it. Ruth and I never saw the “end” of the event as it came to a stop under a red caution and seemed that the better part of the chaos was over. I’d “creatively parked” our Miata and was anxious to get out of the parking lot before the rest of the thousands of spectators. That we managed. Nonetheless, it was great to get out and watch the racing and the carnage that took place.
But one thing I did witness was a near total disregard for everyone’s hearing. Ruth and I were among the precious few wearing earplugs. I saw exactly one child, an infant, with ear protectors on. Yes it is great fun to listen to the unmuffled cars roar by, but that’s an adult choice to ruin your hearing. Small children have a life ahead of them where they may wish to enjoy good hearing. It is the adult responsibility to protect their child’s hearing – and simple, very cheap earplugs as Ruth and I wore are the solution. Wearing earplugs at the race did not diminish the experience at all. It may in fact enhance it since no pain was involved.
If your ears hurt or ring after a loud event – you’ve lost some hearing ability. It does not ever recover. The ringing may go away, but the hearing loss is permanent. Take it from someone who has tinnitus. The constant ringing in your ears is no fun, and the longer you can delay this from happening, the better off you will be.
Give your children a chance to enjoy the subtle sounds of nature and life. Provide them with hearing protection when you are in loud environments. Wear them yourself to demonstrate to your children that it is a good idea. Like wearing your seat belt to show the kids you care about them and your future. It’s not much to do or ask. Please heed this admonition.