The Southland is all abuzz today following yesterday’s Charlotte Observer article by Lisa Zagaroli that members of the US House Homeland Security Committee were advised to get vaccinations (for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza) before traveling to car races in Concord, NC, and Taladega, AL.
Neither NASCAR fans or local politicians were pleased with the insinuations:
Rep. Robin Hayes, a Republican from Concord, took umbrage when he heard about it.
“I have never heard of immunizations for domestic travel, and as the representative for Concord, N.C., I feel compelled to ask why the heck the committee feels that immunizations are needed to travel to my hometown,” Hayes said in an Oct. 5 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the Homeland Security panel.
“I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly do not pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else,” Hayes added.
Today, Observer commentator Scott Fowler had some fun with all the hubbub:
So now NASCAR has cooties?
I don’t know about you, but I usually keep some syringes in my moonshine jar, out back by the ol’ still that grandpappy tends when we’re not all runnin’ from the police. Maybe we can help some of y’all visitors out with a different kind of medicine.
Said LMS [Lowe’s Motor Speedway] president and general manager Humpy Wheeler: “The very idea of immunization is laughable. It’s like taping your ankles to go to the mailbox. This is not some third- or fourth-world country. As a matter of fact, never in the 50-plus years of NASCAR has there been an outbreak of any kind at an event, other than a few headaches because somebody’s driver ran out of gas, or maybe a morning hangover.”
I looked around Thursday at LMS, searching for a portable immunization clinic alongside the Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirts. No luck.
Yes, his name is really “Humpy.”
The seriousness of the committee’s mission was lost in the repercussions of the advice given to them by House staffers. The homeland security mission was attending the two races to examine public health preparedness at mass gatherings, a potential terrorist threat that was taken very seriously at the Athens Olympics.