It has been a horrifying 48-hours in NASCAR racing.
Tony Stewart, the heavy footed-hot head superstar, is dealing with the emotional trauma of killing another driver, Saturday night, in a dirt track sprint car race outside of Rochester, the day before he was supposed to race at Watkins Glen.
Stewart, as fierce a competitor as any of the so-called Good Old Boys, races all the time, not just on the big money NASCAR sprint cup circuit, but also on dirt tracks around the country. He is heavily involved as a part owner of some tracks, and gives back to the roots of the sport from where he came.
Saturday night saw him in a tire-to-tire battle for first place at Canandaigua Speedway. He touched wheels with young driver Kevin Ward, spinning his car into the outer wall. As the caution came out, Ward came out of his car, walked into the middle of the track as to confront Stewart while the yellow caution was out.
Cars were not doing their 120 miles an hour under yellow, but rather 50. As Ward shook his fist at the cars coming around, he was nearly hit by one car-which veered left. Stewart trailing right behind, veered right, and clipped the 20-year old driver under his back wheels, flipping him 50-feet into the air.
Stewart’s high powered engine was heard to rev just before contact was made.
No one knows if Stewart did that to take a run at Ward; did that to try and pull out of his path. But as he revved, the back end spun and the rear tire caught Ward.
Stewart was devastated at the impact, and pulled up to the wall, knowing what happened.
Race car drivers are the ultimate macho breed. The speed, the daring, the danger is all part of their DNA.
Stewart is the ultimate marathon man, a racing junkie. A year ago he caused a 15 car wreck at the same track. Last summer he shattered his leg in a horrific flip in another dirt car accident.
Stewart has been a big winner of the circuit; he’s also been involved in big wreck, and big temper tantrum issues. He also gives enormous amounts of money to charity work, in addition to giving back to all the tracks that help young drivers grow the sport they love.
Ward had developed a fast-guy reputation in just three years. He might have been the next Tony Stewart, racing and acting on the edge..
But on this sad night, he died doing something stupid-going on the track to confront a driver who had clipped him.
Stewart will not be charged by police for the ‘racing accident’ but you have to believe he will be scarred for life by it.