15-year-old stock car driver Taylor Gray has raised quite a stir on social media today after posting a Snapchat video of him using one hand to film himself while cruising around the Daytona International Speedway at full blast. So, here’s your regular reminder: filming yourself racing at speed is always a bad idea, but especially when you’re a young racing driver trying to make it up the ranks.
Gray grew up in a fast family that competed in NHRA drag racing events, so it makes sense that we’re seeing him competing in the ARCA Menards racing series at such a young age.
Unfortunately, Gray’s name is now connected to a fairly unfortunate video while in the process of applying for a full racing license to run high-powered stock cars.
The video appears to show Gray filming the road in front of him as he races at about 170 mph. He turns the camera back on himself before filming the track again as he enters a banked corner.
Race fans on the internet have had some strong reactions to the video. On the one hand, Gray has been subject to critiques for his risky behavior (and for posting his video on Snapchat of all places). On the other, some folks argue that there’s very limited danger in driving one-handed in a stock car; he is, after all, on a track lined with SAFER barriers and is protected by his HANS device.
But when it comes down to it, it’s not a great look for a young driver trying to get a leg up in the stock car racing world. Racing is a lot safer than it used to be, but you still don’t want anyone engaging in unnecessarily risky driving because there’s still an opportunity to put yourself, your career, and the track workers in danger.
While some folks are also arguing that Gray is too young to really grasp the consequences of his actions, this is still an opportunity to learn—and an opportunity to think in-depth about the fact that teens who can’t hold a driving license can race at high speeds.
The only other example of a driver being punished for using a phone in his car is that of Santino Ferrucci, who intentionally crashed into his own teammate before operating his cellphone at the end of a Formula 2 race. He was barred from competing in the series—but these two situations are a bit different, so it can be hard to compare them on an equal basis.
Next time, Gray, invest in a GoPro and strap it to your car. It’s a hell of a lot safer, the videos you record will be of much higher quality, and people will be sharing your name in a more positive light.