Religion Today: Scott Speed at the 2011 Indy 500

Guest Writer Spotlight: Scott Speed at the 2011 Indy 500 – By Richard Lewis

At 200+ MPH the car slammed into the outside wall, ending the team’s hope of competing at the Indianapolis 500.

There was an interesting incident during the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race practice and qualifying. Scott Speed was driving the #20 Jay Penske Team car and throughout practice he kept complaining about its handling. Although Scott is a very competent driver in other motorsports leagues including Formula One racing and NASCAR, he did not have any experience at Indianapolis.


Religion Today: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world

Religion Today: Red – Right – Returning

Religion Today: Am I Going to Die?

Religion Today: Cubicle World

Religion Today: Route 66

After several days of practicing with the car, Scott tried to get the car up to qualifying speeds but something did not feel right. He warned the team that there was the possibility of crashing the car because its handling was unpredictable. A skilled racecar driver can drive a car that is not handling perfectly but if the handling is not consistent, it is very hard to diagnose problems because you are so busy just trying to keep from crashing. He told the crew he was willing to take that risk and attempt to qualify the car for the race but he wanted to save them the potential total loss of the car. There was definitely some drama with the team wondering if the problem was with the car or with their driver.

Eventually, on the final day of qualifying, the team decided to go for “Plan B” and put racing veteran Patrick Carpentier in the car. It took only a short time before Carpentier spun the car in turn one. At 200+ MPH the car slammed into the outside wall, ending the team’s hopes of competing at the Indy 500. Carpentier was shaken but OK. (See Video). Indeed Scott’s fears and warnings of the car’s wicked handling had been fulfilled and proved that even one of the most experienced Indy car drivers could not tame that car.

Even though Scott Speed had warned his mechanics and support crew that the #20 Jay Penske Team car was handling poorly and not responding properly at the 2011 Indianapolis 500 qualifying rounds, his team believed it was Speed’s lack of Indianapolis experience that was at the root of the problem. Speed’s instincts proved correct when racing veteran Patrick Carpentier was tapped to replace Speed and subsequently crashed on the final day of qualifying.

Shortly after the crash Scott appeared outside the team’s garage stall and was interviewed. Now if he was like me I’m sure that everything inside him was telling him to go ahead and say, “I told you so” or “That car was an ill handling beast and nobody would believe me”. Of course, he did not say that and was actually very diplomatic and respectful. The interviewer was probably hoping for a juicy “behind the scenes” story or some telling quote that would be replayed again and again but they were not going to get that from Scott. He was the model of discretion and you could tell that as the interviewer probed you could see Scott carefully choosing his words.

As tempting as it might have been, if he had weighed in with negative comments on the situation, these would actually not have been in his own best interests for future employment in the racing community. Some caustic comments would have, at best, netted him a few fleeting seconds of pleasure. Fast forward several years and Scott became a top rated Global and Americas Rallycross driver and multiple time series champion. Perhaps at least a part of that success was because Scott did not throw away his future opportunities with a loose tongue those many years ago.

How many times have we all said words in haste that could never be taken back. I have to confess on the few occasions where I have done this I don’t remember them bringing me even a few seconds of pleasure or sweet revenge before I realized that I should not have said them at all. No amount of damage control can fix these things.

I quickly thought of how Scott was a good example to me about the discretion of speech from the book of James. Now I don’t know of Scott’s personal spiritual commitment but in bridling his tongue, he definitely has me beat.

James 3:8-10 “but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

It made me think of some amends I need to make to others that I have spoken to improperly. It made me realize that although I am able to separate my blessing of the Lord and my words to others, God makes no such distinction – those words come from the same mouth. Our purity of words in our prayers and the sweetness of our thanksgiving to God need to also be reflected in my words to men, who have been made in the image of God.

Richard Lewis is a graduate of Arizona State University (Advertising) and California Baptist University (Computer Information Systems). Richard and his wife Sue met while they served as staff members at Campus Crusade for Christ for 8 years in the 1970’s. Richard served in the Campus Ministry at University of Texas at El Paso, Louisiana Tech and at the International Headquarters in San Bernardino, California.

Following their ministry in Campus Crusade Richard was the owner and manager of a bicycle shop in Riverside California for 19 years. After retraining in the computer field at California Baptist University, Richard worked as a Information Systems contractor and employee at Boeing for 17 years. Richard has written over 150 published articles in Information Systems and Computing publications including Windows Magazine and Windows Scripting Solutions.  Richard has served in a leadership role as a Deacon and Elder in several churches as well as being a meditation presenter and Men’s Ministry coordinator.

Richard has written hundreds of meditations and devotionals that have been used in church and small group meetings. Many of these have been published in The Upper Room and Racers For Christ publications and on their web sites. 
In 2021 Richard published a collection of his devotionals. These are available in a Kindle and paperback format on Amazon (ISBN 979-8705738878) “Life Stories to Uplift and Encourage”.

Want to be featured in a future “Guest Writer Spotlight” article? 
Contact the editor: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.