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Credit to Mervyn for road racing passion

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 20/06/2016

Mervyn Whyte at the North West 200
Mervyn Whyte at the North West 200

The perils of road racing are clearly illustrated in our Big Interview published today, during which Mervyn Whyte - the man responsible for running the NW 200 - speaks about the emotional toll of the untimely death of young Malachi Mitchell-Thomas at this year's event.

He says that the death of any road-racer is like losing a son, and talks in vivid and heart-rending detail about holding Malachi's hand after his disastrous crash, and watching his life ebb away.

That is an experience which no-one could forget, but, nevertheless, Mervyn is still deeply committed to this high octane sport.

However, it is no surprise that he speaks of his relief that his two sons did not take up road racing. Every parent in the country must feel the same.

Mr Whyte deserves credit for speaking so honestly about a subject which has provided elements on which the critics have seized, to call for a ban on the sport.

Mervyn does not seek merely to defend the sport. He candidly admits the high cost in human life, and also the fears that undoubtedly haunt all those who have loved ones on the track, where they literally take their life in their hands.

These admissions give the lie to some public perception that those involved in road racing are determined to defend it, and to continue these events, at any cost.

Mervyn Whyte's remarks are significant, given the strong criticism of the fatalities and serious injuries involved. It is also noteworthy that many people contacted him after this year's fatality, and implored him to continue staging the event.

Many of the arguments for or against road-racing are centred around the tourism and commercial factors, as well as the casualties, but road-racing is even more complex than that.

Those who take part know the risks more than anyone else. They are the first-hand witnesses to all that goes on, including the shocking and tragic deaths and injuries, and yet they continue to support road racing.

They are not compelled to take part, and ultimately it boils down to a question of choice.

However, we must be sure that all possible precautions are taken to protect the participants and spectators.

No-one takes this exciting and dangerous sport lightly, and doubtless there will be another full review of the tragic events at this year's NW 200.

Belfast Telegraph

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