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Why Tony Stewart is No Hero

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart  (BRIAN BLANCO/REUTERS)

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart (BRIAN BLANCO/REUTERS)

 

Not a hero. A racecar driver turned murderer, maybe.

If we could read Tony Stewart’s mind on the day he ran over and ultimately killed 20 year old Kevin Ward Jr. perhaps his innocence would be revealed and race fans could feel better about watching him retire with whatever dignity he has left. For the record, I am not okay with the way he is being lauded as some sort of racing hero. He killed a young man on a dirt race track; He was going to race NASCAR the very next day until the president of his company, Stewart-Haas Racing, announced three hours before the start of the race that Regan Smith would take his place. NASCAR quickly makes a new rule stating a driver may not leave the car after it is stationary and walk on the track’s surface or any part thereof. 22 days later on August 31, Tony Stewart started racing again.

I am positive the parents of Kevin Ward Jr. have not forgotten about him. His parents stated publicly that they didn’t believe Stewart intentionally hit their son, but his death could certainly have been prevented by not gunning his engine and staying low on the track.

On the night of August 9, 2014 in an Empire Super Sprints race at Canandaigua, New York, Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed while on foot on an active racetrack. Now conventional wisdom would certainly say do not walk down the track to where the cars are still running, but he was clearly missed by others and Tony Stewart is the most experienced driver on the track. His Lawyer states that, Stewart did not see anyone walking on the track and also was unaware who he made contact with until afterwards. Toxicology reported that Kevin Ward Jr. had evidence of marijuana in his system. Enough to have been using it in some form within approximately five hours of the race starting, also enough to have impaired his judgement. I am also positive that Ward Jr. did not deserve to die because of it.

Tony Stewart has an anger problem. If he doesn’t get his way, he tries to beat people up. That’s bullying, isn’t it? He has said some pretty horrible things about other people, throwing tantrums, fists, helmets… no kidding. “We were definitely faster than Matt after that restart. I checked up twice to not run over him. I learned my lesson there. I’m going to run over him every chance I got from now until the end of the year. Every chance I got.” Tony Stewart, Ladies and gentlemen, at Bristol Motor Speedway, 2012. Or what about the heckling fan he almost beat up in Tulsa Oklahoma at the Sprint Car race the Chili Bowl in January 2016? If it hadn’t been racing, could you imagine the backlash? Can you think of another sport where this kind of behavior is ok? There are a multitude of YouTube compilations of Tony Stewart behaving like a jackass.  Who gave him the fake Sheriff’s badge to behave as some sort of disturbed race track policeman? He has no right. He had no right to attempt to scare Kevin Ward Jr. to teach a young kid a lesson. That is my opinion of what happened on August 9, 2014. The Tony Stewart that wrecked Kevin Ward Jr. saw him exit his Sprint car and walk toward him to confront his poor driving choices was so put off by his actions, which were eerily similar to Stewart’s in the past, that he thought, (I’m speculating here), “I’ll show that kid!” And he killed him. It is as simple as that. If you make a mistake driving down the street and the driver in front of you jumps out and points and gesticulates that would be a little scary. It doesn’t mean you can run him over and kill him.

The civil suit versus Tony Stewart has yet to be settled. Tony Stewart has never spoken publicly about this incident other than a statement he read at a press conference right before he started racing again.

An Ontario County grand jury did not charge Stewart with criminally negligent homicide based on lack of evidence. There is a video of Tony Stewart plowing over a man in a race suit.

The video, with audio can be found here: http://digg.com/video/tony-stewart-video-kevin-ward-accident

It really is horrifying. You hear the Sprint Cars at idle, coasting because of a caution, then a revving engine, Then Tony Stewart, not his car as he was in complete control, Run over Kevin.

I often wondered why this wasn’t national headline news. Then I realized that August 9, 2014 was the day Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson Missouri by a policeman named Darren Wilson. Michael Brown’s death sparked Nationwide racial controversy and put all other stories on the back burner and rightly so.

Tony Stewart still plans to race Sprint Cars. He says he cannot wait. When the 2 year anniversary of Kevin Ward’s death arrives in a couple weeks, I am very interested to see if NASCAR chooses to ignore this Scarlet letter of a driver that is being touted as a legend during his final year. I say good riddance.

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Photo of the Month – August

Photo of the Month – August

(Photo by Brandon Koodish)

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