Local NASCAR community reflects on tragedy involving Tony Stewart

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. — Saturday night’s wreck involving Tony Stewart hits home for many drivers in the Triad.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver who was walking on a track during a dirt-track race in upstate New York.

Kevin Ward Jr., 20, died from injuries suffered in the incident, which occurred Saturday night at the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

It’s not unusual for some NASCAR drivers to race on smaller speedways – Stewart raced at 311 Motor Speedway seven years ago.

Everyone agrees that the death of the young driver was a tragedy, but now folks are rethinking race safety.

Mike Fulp owns 311 Motor Speedway in Stokes County. He said he understands that tempers flare during the races, but safety comes first with speeds up to 140 miles per hour.

“Always expect the worse to happen when you run a race track, because you know it can happen,” Fulp said.

At 311 Motor Speedway, he said drivers cannot get out of their cars until it is safe. He said they will be fined and disqualified if they do.

Fulp said anyone involved in an accident on the track must stay in the car until directed by safety crews.

No one is allowed to inspect damages unless there is a fire.

“It’s no use of arguing and fussing and fighting , just come and put a show on for the fans,” Fulp said.

Those that do not comply and get out of the car will result in $100 for each person and disqualification for the race.

The driver that was killed in New York got out of his car after a crash.

“Hopefully we can find the good in it and something good will come out of this tragedy,” said driver Mike Robertson.

Robertson said he hopes other drivers will learn from the crash and learn to control their temper during competition.

Last year, Robertson lost his cool at Bowman Gray Stadium when he got out of his car after a crash and was drug around the track.

“If you can take a few moments to collect your thoughts, it’ll be a better situation, but at that moment for myself, I didn’t,” he said. “I tried to react and the rest is on YouTube.”

Both Fulp and Robertson said they don’t believe Stewart meant any harm. They said this is a tragic accident that other drivers should pay close attention to.

9 comments

  • Anonymous

    I remember when I lost one of the most precious people in my life due to a tragic accident. As my brother spoke the horrific words on the phone, all I could think to ask, was whether anyone else had been involved or if anyone else was at fault. The answer was no…and in that moment of absolute devastation and loss, I found comfort that there was no one to blame. I felt relief that no person would have to live with the guilt of taking a life, even accidentally. I did not want the anger that I knew would have surely come, and in that moment I was thankful. The loss Kevin Ward Jr.’s family is experiencing cannot be defined, nor can it be measured. I pray for them, as well as for Tony, for his life will never be the same either.

    • beachtrip

      I absolutely agree with your comments. There is no win in any of this… only tragedy. My prayers for the Ward family and for Tony Stewart.

  • FaithC

    These drivers act like spoiled children. Total hot heads and this is what happens. The young man, Ward, should have stayed put on the side of the track and not started across the track towards Stewart’s car…and Stewart should not have tried to get as close to Ward as he could. Both trying to be tough guys. Now one is dead and one has to live with that.
    Condolences out to Ward’s Family and friends, but this could have been prevented.
    They don’t need more safety rules, they just need drivers to grow up and follow the rules of common sense.

    • Mark

      Its not as easy as it sounds . When you spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on a race car and someone just takes you out for no reason . you see red . Ive been there . Its not easy to hold your temper , no matter how level headed you are . In this kids situation its a bit different . His car was not damaged that bad . But when someone destroys a car you have put years into for no reason its hard not to want to do the same to them or theirs . I do agree that a level head should prevail , but sometimes its extremely hard to think that way .

  • Dickson John

    Tony, do you feel like a BIG man now. Why were you out there playing with these young men half your age.
    Why didn’t you grab his wife’s butt for good luck like you usually do with other men’s wives before a race. This is what racing is all about. YOU got your man. And you are smiling like the hot-head that you are.

  • Bob

    Soon as I saw this a lot of people around me said and thought the same thing Tony Stewart has always been guilty of being a hothead and has little man syndrome and look what he’s done now I hope his career is over!!!!I met him at a race one time and he is one arrogant piece of @&$@!!!!

  • Derick D Ham Hamrick

    With close to 2,000 signatures, nearly 10,000 recommendations, and signatures from almost all 50 states and now spreading to Australia, Canada, and South Africa this petition is a must read for race fans, racers, car owners , and track owners/promoters all over this great nation, most of us call home, and countries abroad. Take a look, sign it if you agree! Any feedback is greatly appreciated! People are always saying it’s time for a change, and the time is NOW! Help make a difference! http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stay-in-stay-safe-the-kevin-ward-jr-rule.html

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