What is even more tragic is that it all could have been avoided.
Now, while what I have to say may seem callous to some, it needs to be said among all the media hype about this incident that we are going to have to endure for the coming months. Hey, America, y’all are so enamored with so-called reality TV shows – well, this is ‘reality’ writing. You may or may not like it, but your approval doesn’t change the facts.
The biggest fact is that Ward did something very, very stupid. Unfortunately, in this instance, it cost him his life.
Another unfortunate thing is that, while you “can’t fix stupid,” as one popular comedian says, any sanctioning body of any series could and should include a rule that states something to the effect of, “unless threatened by fire or other perceived life threatening circumstances, any driver involved in a crash must remain in the vehicle until emergency personnel arrive at said vehicle. Any driver deemed to be in violation of this policy will be immediately suspended from ALL further participation in that series or track for the remainder of the season – no exceptions, no appeal.”
But there’s the problem: there is no such rule of which I am aware.
Ward exited his vehicle, perhaps like he’d seen the NASCAR driver do just a couple of years ago at Bristol to vent his frustration with Matt Kenseth, to give the big NASCAR star a piece of his mind, not to mention probably a finger as well.
As we all know, it did not go as planned. Ward did make the highlight reels but not as a nifty little clip in a racing commercial like he might have hoped.
The long and short of it all is this: Kevin Ward, Jr. walked to a place that he had no business being. Yes, it is sad and tragic but that does not exonerate Ward of his actions.
As for Tony Stewart, while we all know what a downright prick he can be, I find it extremely hard to believe that he maneuvered his car in any way in an attempt to deliberately hit Ward, or even to scare him. In fact, I do not believe that Stewart even saw him – or if he did, it was at the very last instant. How would he?
What does any driver in racecar have to fear from a man standing on the track (in this case, what appears to be a poorly lighted section of the track) about to throw a helmet or flip you the bird?
Was Stewart even aware that Ward had exited his vehicle and was waiting for him to come around again? While I’m sure he probably has a spotter for such races, was this spotter watching Ward and warning Stewart of his probable intentions? I doubt it. If there was a spotter, he/she was probably busier trying to look at Stewart’s car to see if he’d sustained damage from the contact. If there was no spotter, again in all likelihood, Stewart probably never had a clue.
At any rate, the simple fact of the matter is that until further video evidence or a confession surfaces, only Tony Stewart knows what truly happened. If he did in fact attempt to scare the young racer and tragically miscalculated, well, that is something he has to live with for the rest of his life.
As things stand now, investigating authorities have said that this is nothing more than a tragic accident. But wait – listen for it – do you hear those black helicopters? Yes, that’s right, there will be many nut jobs out there who will be of the opinion that Stewart has or will buy his way out of any trouble he might be in. He is, after all, a rich and famous celebrity.
To them I say, “where have you been for the last 30 or so years?” If there is one thing shallow Americans love more than their rich and famous celebrities, it’s rich and famous celebrities that go and do something stupid and lose it all and become a disgraceful laughingstock. No, I don’t see any special treatment being given here; it is only Tony Stewart, after all.
Before I go, there is one more thing I’d like you to think about and it is based in reality as well.
What if it had been Joe Schmo, of the famed Joe Schmo Racing garage, in the car instead of Tony Stewart? Outside of a local community in upstate New York, chances are you never would have ever heard of Kevin Ward, Jr. and I’d be sitting here bitching about Brian France again or something. It’s sad but it’s true.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ward family – and yes, to Tony Stewart, too. Let’s hope all sanctioning bodies will take my advice and do all they can to curb this kind of behavior.
Stay off the wall, (and ESPECIALLY OFF THE TRACK ON FOOT!!!)