I have nothing against Peter Brock. I am very sad for his family, his new partner, his co-driver and everybody else who knew him or barracked for him.

But I’m not particularly surprised at the way Brock died, just as, when you think about it, the only real shock in Steve Irwin’s death was the particular animal that managed to tag him. Irwin’s fall at the hands of a usually shy stingray was like watching an all-time heavyweight champion lose to a four-round undercard fighter.

As far as I can tell after a weekend of saturation media coverage, Peter Brock died after attempting to drive fast around a dangerous corner, surrounded by large trees.

Yet the media coverage has been full of puzzled bewilderment. How could this have happened? What went wrong with the car? Was it driver error? Will the “black box” tell us anything?

It all strikes me as strange – just as it did when Ayrton Senna was killed in the Italian Grand Prix all those years ago and the court cases continued seemingly forever into whose fault it was. Or, for that matter given today’s date, the shock, anger and inquiries into why the Twin Towers fell – as though the WTC engineers should have planned ahead for somebody flying two fuel-loaded planes at full speed into the side of the buildings.

When it comes to racing accidents, isn’t it reasonable to assume if it goes wrong, it could go really wrong? I’m always more surprised when racing drivers walk out of accidents.

According to the latest reports on the Brock crash, police believe it could take a fortnight to unravel the cause of the accident. They are looking at video from inside the car and as taken by spectators. The data recorders within the car are being downloaded and trawled through. It’s all very thorough, as it needs to be.

But where is the mystery? This is a crash site that has apparently claimed lives before; several motorcyclists came to grief on the very same tree. A rally encourages people in all sorts of cars to push their driving limits on non-professional racing surfaces with no safety barriers.

Why are we so surprised when something goes wrong under this kind of scenario? Of course it’s sad, but there’s no need for a Royal Commission. And nothing will bring Peter Brock back.

Peter Fray

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