NASCAR driver falls head over heels for danger

The Flip Side

April 03, 2005

Emerging NASCAR star Carl Edwards risks life and limb every time he gets into his No. 99 Ford.

Not to mention every time he gets out of it after a victory.

Edwards, 25, who won a Busch Series race March 19 and a Nextel Cup race the next day, celebrates his first-place finishes by doing back flips off his driver's side door - after removing his helmet.

At the Busch race, he stuck his landing.

"Even the Russian judge would give him a 10 on that one," a radio announcer joked.

The next day, he came down with more of a Weebles wobble - enough to remind you that a misstep could break one of Edwards' legs - or his back or his neck or his skull.

"I almost didn't make it around on that one," Edwards acknowledged. "I was a little worn out and excited."

Former Chicago Cubs star Ron Santo clicked his heels after victories. Going head over heels - and doing it on asphalt - is a danger that isn't lost on racing team owner Jack Roush.

"The first time I saw him do it, I cautioned him," Roush said. "He said, `Don't worry about it.' He said, `When I was in college, I had a girlfriend who would help me with it. I can do it.'"

So far, so good.

"I practice a couple days a week at a gym," Edwards said. "I can do it standing flat on the floor. The car gives me a little extra height [and makes it easier]."

He got the idea from Tyler Walker, a sprint-car driver who has moved into the Busch Series.

"As soon as Tyler wins a Busch race, I'm sure he'll do one - and try to do a better one, to one-up me," Edwards said.

Mr. Flip, who probably appreciates a good flip more than the next guy, wonders whatever happened to rejoicing by doing doughnuts?

Danger is not limited to auto racing. It's a problem for tree huggers, too.

In a cross last month between Eddie the Eagle and George of the Jungle, 11 competitors took part in the second-annual Norwegian Tree-Ski-Jumping Championships.

The idea is to take flight from a mound of snow, fly through the air and land in, say, a birch. The skier has to hang on without falling to the ground for the jump to count.

"It isn't really all that dangerous," event organizer Oeystein Lia said.

On the other hand, Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times wrote, "Insurance underwriters insist you'd be lucky to live long enough to win this thing once or twice, let alone treepeat."

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