All of the twenty people present in the conference room turned and looked at Danny as he opened the door and hobbled in on crutches. It wasn’t unexpected he was walking into a closed room where a meeting was happening, getting a look from those present who were not expecting someone to enter was pretty much par for the course. But that’s not quite the way Danny saw it. He was still a little annoyed by the conversation with Gerri and the way she’d almost suggested that his presence was not needed in the meeting. .
“What’s the matter? Is my fucking fly open?” Danny said. The comment was what he meant to say but dropping the F-bomb was a mistake, it fell out before he even realised he’d said it. “Oops, I’m sorry, that slipped out.”
“Good Morning Danny,” Dave said from the head of the table. “I didn’t realise you were going to be present this morning. How are you going?”
Dave was in ‘boss’ mode as Danny thought of it. Controlling the situation, leading the group and keeping the people before him on whatever track it was he had decided would be taken before the meeting started. He was good at it and most times it worked without drama.
Gerri had been right about the race briefing being close to finishing it when Danny arrived. They’d all but finished and were discussing what tasks they had ahead of them before the next race.
When Danny told those present that he was planning to be in the driver’s seat in two weeks at the Mcdonnells race meet there was both shocked looks and questions. Although Danny had been in constant contact with Dave, Dave had also been in constant contact with Dr. Vicra, and while Murray hadn’t ruled Danny out completely he had suggested quite vehemently that Danny’s physical ability was not his main concern, far more concerning was his mental well being.
With the governing body of motorsport in the country becoming more liable for drivers well being both on and off the track many things were changing. Thirty years ago sport had been easy to govern, people played, they got injured, they got fixed and hopefully that was the end of it. But since more sports became careers and more competitors became full time, paid sports professionals the need to treat them like an employee in any other business arose. Teams were forced to insure against injuries to their ‘staff’, they were forced to insure against negligence and they were forced to ensure both physical and mental fitness of all those under their employment.
When racing became a professional sport teams could no longer afford to simply choose their drivers and crew by skill alone. Both physical and mental well being came into the equation. As a driver became able to sue their team for injuries so came the need to teams to be able to refuse a driver track time based on more than just a physical capability. Much like a police officer, or firemen, where having the wrong mental attitude could see them removed from active duty a race driver could be removed from the track for the same thing if it was deemed safety was a risk. It was a businesses way of protecting itself from litigation.
“What the fuck do you mean I wont be racing at Macdonnells?” Danny growled at Dave. He was sitting in Dave’s office, there was a desk between then and had Danny not been in the state he was with his leg he’d have probably climbed that desk and taken to Dave face to face because he was so annoyed with that he’d just been told.
“You know as well as I do Danny that we can’t clear you for racing with a full medical and that includes the psyche test. Dr. Vicra, Murray, doesn’t think your fit to pass that test yet. He thinks you’ve still got a ways to go. He’s not saying you can’t race, he’s saying you need to pass the tests.”
“Fuck him!” Danny’s voice was both angry and loud.”I’ll get a second opinion.”
“You and I both know that wont matter Danny. It’s not even Murray who will have the final say.” Dave’s voice on the opposite side of the desk was calm and he was determined to keep control of the situation.
“Well fuck them too. If Murray says I’m ok then those other fucking quacks will agree with him.”
“That is the problem Danny, Murray wont just say you’re ok.”
“Why the fuck not? It’s what he gets paid for!”
Both Dave and Danny had been through similar conversations before, never with quite as much riding on the outcome but it was a topic that had come up. The team and the doctor may never have known the extent of Danny’s issues previously because he’d hidden them well, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t suspected things were wrong. Dave decided it was time to bring a few of those truths home to rest.
Calmly Dave said. “There was more than a few times last year and the year before you should have been taken off the track. You know it. I know it. And Murray knows it. Now that is water under the bridge as far as the team is concerned, but if you want to stir that water up it can be.”
“The fuck you talkin’ about Dave?”
“You know what I am talking about, don’t make me spell it out.”
“Maybe I should get you to spell it out in front of my lawyer.”
Dave stood up from his chair, his voice changed from calm to firm, but was still not raised. “Danny, don’t be silly about this. Don’t do something you’ll regret. No one has said you can’t race, just that you need to pass all the medical checks.”
“Which according to Murray I wont fucking pass!”
“He hasn’t said that. He said he’s concerned you wont. He’s as committed to getting you on the track as we are, but he wont just pass you because your knee is better and you are a good driver.”
“So let me take the test.”
“You know that’s not how things work. You have an appointment with Murray and Narelle,” the team psychiatrist, “on Thursday. That’s a week until you potentially get in the car. Go home. Do your rehab. Think about things and turn up on Thursday with a clear head and show them you want to race.”
Danny’s face was red, he was seething and his next move could make or break his future at Force 10 racing.
Previous Racing story here.