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On Aaron Fike’s NASCAR Reinstatement

August 21, 2012

 

Aaron Fike preps his helmet at IRP – Anne Proffit photo

I remember Aaron Fike when he was driving in USAC’s National Midget Series and was looking to succeed in what’s now the Mazda Road to Indy with the Firestone Indy Lights Series. It was back – wow – nearly a decade ago when we first met and I liked the kid’s attitude and his driving capabilities, particularly in the hard-to-tame USAC open wheel cars, whether on dirt or pavement.

Aaron was always accessible and ready with a smile. I was pleased – well, not really – to see him go to NASCAR; here was a guy I’d hoped would continue in the open wheel ranks and move to the Indy cars eventually.

It wasn’t meant to be  for Aaron, either in NASCAR or INDYCAR. He let his life become overwhelmed by using heroin and he let himself go down the drain. This young man’s nadir occurred on July 11, 2007 when he was banished from NASCAR for “actions detrimental to stock car racing.” Fike had been racing in the NASCAR’s ladder series’ but his habit got the better of him.

It took more than five years, but Aaron Fike has gone through NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy Road to Recovery program and has received clearance from the sanctioning body to race again.

That’s a long time, but it takes that long to overcome heroin – and I’m guessing that Aaron Fike knows that he is and always will be a heroin addict. It’s up to him to avoid the drug – any drug – and put his career back on track. Will he be able to do it? Or has this time out of the seat (we really don’t know if Fike’s done any racing; there’s been no mention of him anywhere) killed his innate passion for the sport?

There are toxic drugs in the marketplace that can easily take their toll on a driver’s career. It happened for Fike with heroin, to former Cup winner Jeremy Mayfield in accusations of methamphetamine use – that he illogically fought; with AJ Allmendinger’s current suspension for using Adderall without a prescription. There have been team members that have gone down the same road but haven’t been castigated in the media for their drug use – but they’re out there and trying not to let the drug use rule their lives.

As a recovering amphetamine user – clean for 10 years now – I know the perils of hard drug use and the ramifications of life after drug use. I’m hoping and praying that Aaron Fike can find his way back to competition – as did Shane Hmiel – but hopefully without the consequences suffered by Hmiel in his debilitating crash. Aaron used to be on the cusp of being a great, not a good driver. Here’s hoping he can return to competition and be one of the great ones.

(Here is a pic of Aaron Fike at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) prepping for the Night Before the 500 race in 2004 – it’s the last time I saw him driving in USAC.)

By Anne Proffit

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