WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Winston-Salem police have issued a statement after a Saturday night conflict in a Bowman Gray Stadium race led to an officer pointing a gun at a driver.
Video shows a Winston-Salem police officer pulling his gun and pointing it at driver Andy Spears.
The police report describes the 11:11 p.m. Saturday night incident as an assault with a deadly weapon on driver Blake Walker.
Walker was standing outside his race car when a driver appeared to intentionally ram the disabled race car, causing the vehicle to hit Walker.
“The driver then spun his vehicle in a reckless manner around the disabled car placing the officers, the exiting drivers and race personnel in its path,” the statement said. “Unsure of the driver’s intentions, Officer C.K. Robertson perceived this action as a deadly threat to all aforementioned parties.”
That’s when Robertson drew his weapon in an attempt to stop a perceived deadly threat.
Winston-Salem police said the investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.
Winston-Salem Speedway Inc. will investigate the wreck, which took place during a sanctioned event, and handle it according to their policies.
The conflict ignited during the Stadium Stock Race when Spears, driving #23, tried to pass Blake Walker, driving #99.
Spears said Walker cut down on him. Walker said Spears spun him out on purpose.
With retaliation on his mind, Walker positioned his car near Spears during the caution period following the spin.
Spears said he tried to get away but ultimately Walker ended up behind the #23 car and spun him around.
“Last week, the 23 of Spears tore my teammate, the 49 of Shawn Hayes, up in what we considered a (dump) and a stupid move costing Shawn what likely would’ve been his first win at the stadium,” Blake Walker wrote in a message to FOX8. “And, on to this week, he absolutely drove through my left rear on purpose, so I retaliated in what I considered an easy way considering the amount of work he cost us the prior week.”
Andy Spears told FOX8 he was alongside Walker’s car, making the pass, and said anyone who looks at that video can clearly tell that is the case. He says he’s raced at the stadium for years and he’s always been known as a clean driver.
With both cars stopped on the track, Walker got out of his car with the help of safety crews and off-duty Winston-Salem police
Then Spears spun his car around in a circle to face the #99 car.
According to Spears, he planned to pull up next to Walker’s car and have a talk, but when he drove toward Walker’s car, the two cars made contact.
He also said his steering was broken from the prior contact with Walker and that he had no intention of hitting the #99 car when he spun around.
When the #23 hit the #99 car, the #99 hit Walker who was standing next to it.
“The officials tell us in the driver’s meeting, ‘Don’t get out of the car until an official is there and says so’,” Spears reiterated in a Sunday evening phone conversation with FOX8. “I didn’t see him get out of the car.”
After the two cars collided, the Winston-Salem officer pulled his gun and pointed it at Spears.
“I didn’t see the gun,” Spears said, saying he had no idea that happened until people started telling him afterward.
In the video, the officer holsters his weapon after approximately 4 seconds and track safety officials told Spears to get out of the car.
“What if he would have shot me,” Spears said, “We don’t need cops on the track. That’s the track crew’s job.”
Blake Walker has a different opinion.
“I exited my car to get a little more personal with him and he proceeded to ram my car with me and officials and officers standing right beside it. The car hit me and one of the officers. He then spun around facing us and was about to give another go with us standing there,” Walker wrote in his message to FOX8, “It could’ve been real bad. The officer did what he was trained to do, in my opinion, to stop what he thought was a very dangerous situation.”
Both drivers were escorted back to the pits and kept separated.
Spears said the whole situation left a bad taste in his mouth. His 14-year-old son who serves as his spotter has spent nearly his whole life at the racetrack and is now telling his dad he doesn’t want to go back.
Both drivers are frustrated to have to repair cars for what started out as normal racing activity at Bowman Gray.
Bowman Gray Stadium Public Relations issued a statement saying:
“Both drivers involved have been suspended for their actions on the track. The entire situation is continuing to be evaluated.”