Last July, this bastion of intense autosports coverage posted news of NASCAR Craftsman Series competitor Aaron Fike being charged with heroin possession. Though I neglected the most obvious angle —- ie. when would the Craftsman Series add Brooklyn to their schedule? — ESPN The Magazine’s Ryan McGee recently quizzed Fike about a rather difficult last 8 months.
On July 7, 2007, Fike (above) and fiancÃ©e Cassandra Davidson were arrested in the parking lot of Kings Island amusement park outside of Cincinnati. Security guards knocked on the window of Fike’s Toyota SUV after realizing that a black sheet was preventing anyone from seeing into the back seat. At first the couple attempted to flee, but a search of the vehicle turned up a haul of drug paraphernalia, including a 100-count box of syringes, bloody napkins and black tar heroin.
“It was pretty obvious what we were doing,” Fike admitted. “So when they tapped on the window I tried to get the hell out of there. Now I know that being arrested saved both of our lives.”
Only seven days earlier Fike had posted a career-best fifth-place finish in the O’Reilly 200 at the .75-mile Memphis Motorsports Park. The run boosted the rookie of the year favorite to eighth in the NCTS championship standings. He said he used heroin earlier that day.
“I had no idea,” said Tom DeLoach, co-owner and general manager of Red Horse Racing, who fielded Fike’s No. 1 Toyota Tundra. “None of us did. Not those of us that worked beside him every weekend or, to the best of my knowledge, any of the people that we race against every weekend.”
Fike said he believes his ability to race while under the influence of illegal drugs is proof that NASCAR’s longtime “reasonable suspicion” drug policy doesn’t work. Since 2000, seven NASCAR drivers have been suspended indefinitely for substance abuse problems, four after either failing or missing tests administered under reasonable suspicion. The other three, including Fike, were caught by police. Fike believes that such a reactive policy allowed him, and others, to race when they shouldn’t have.
“I think it was easier to [enforce] it that way a long time ago,” he said. “But I was able to race with it in my system, so it didn’t work with me.”