Disregarding the multitude of speculation out there regarding his death, what is known for sure is that the NASCAR community has lost Kevin Grubb, a former Nationwide Series driver. Grubb, 31, was discovered dead in a Richmond, Va.-area hotel, reportedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
There has been nothing reported regarding a motive for Grubb’s suicide; the only definitive, that Grubb’s death is a true tragedy. To have any person, especially one of Grubb’s young age, take their own life, is both shocking and troubling. And for the racing community, to lose one of their own, a race fan who like so many out there lived their life one lap a time and a driver striving to live the dream, is truly a difficult pill to swallow.
Grubb was not only a racer, but a talented one at that. The younger brother of a fellow NASCAR driver, Wayne Grubb, Kevin notched back-to-back top-15 points finishes in what was then the NASCAR Busch Series in 2000 and 2001, scoring 12 top-10 results during that span.
Being someone that did not follow the Nationwide Series avidly until the 2004 season, I didn’t get the chance to watch Grubb race until his reinstatement to the sport in 2006 following a lengthy suspension for substance abuse. But I still to this day remember seeing Grubb’s performance at Gateway International Raceway that year, taking John McNelly’s stalwart No. 56 ride into the top 10 while outrunning Roush Racing prospect Todd Kluever and David Reutimann among other bigger-name drivers in bigger-name rides. After that race, I thought then, and I still to this day am convinced, that had he continued as a driver, he had “it.”
Unfortunately, Grubb raced only once more in his NASCAR career, bowing out of the September Richmond race early after a wreck. The episode following the wreck, whose details remain fuzzy, resulted in Grubb’s being suspended indefinitely from NASCAR racing after refusing to submit to a required drug test.
And just like the circumstances surrounding Grubb’s refusal to take a drug test in 2006 at RIR are hazy, the same can be said for those surrounding his suicide. Left and right, writers are hypothesizing whether or not Grubb’s suspension from NASCAR or drug use had something to do with his taking his own life, whether or not NASCAR or somebody did something wrong.
Now is not the time for such questions, nor is the information regarding this case conclusive enough to start debating, pointing fingers, or assigning responsibility for what happened to this promising driver.
Now is the time to remember Kevin Grubb. Kevin will unfortunately be remembered largely along the lines of his suspensions from NASCAR and his struggles with drug abuse, but that’s not all race fans should take from this story. While Grubb’s example is one that other aspiring racers and persons in general should learn from as to the dangers of such behavior, his story is also one that should be remembered simply because he was a racer. He was one of the lucky ones who lived the dream, and who race fans were fortunate enough to see take to the track.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding his death, whatever comes of the investigation into it, Kevin Grubb’s death is a true tragedy. Today the entire racing community, from the drivers to the mechanics to the fans, lost a talent and a brother.
Rest in peace, Kevin Grubb. You will be missed.