By on August 15, 2014


Tony Stewart will not return to racing just yet. Although criminal charges are currently “unlikely” according to the local sheriff, Stewart’s decision to stay out of the public eye is probably the most sensible and cautious one possible. This isn’t really one of the things that TTAC would normally cover, so you can read my thoughts on the situation over on my site.

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39 Comments on “Tony Stewart: “Grieving” Over Death Of Fellow Racer...”

  • avatar

    Don’t play in traffic.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    An IRL turd in front of empty stands is about right.


  • avatar

    I’ve seen plenty of commentary over the years of how the “thug culture” is destroying the NFL, the sports media seems to relish in covering conflicts between personalities on and off the field.

    Then there’s NASCAR, where drivers and crews get into fights on and off the track, the WWF-style smack talk never ceases. The same NASCAR fans who deride the “thugs” in the NFL, saying things like “That’s what happens when you take monkeys out of the jungle and give them money”, need to take a look at the blatant crap that their preferred sport revels in.

    A stupid display of bravado got this kid killed.

  • avatar

    The article on your site covers my thoughts very nicely.

    It’s stupefying, the number of people who are crawling out of the woodwork to say they read intention into a grainy video. Stewart’s car is in frame for exactly one car length, for the duration of 11 frames from the moment the nose is visible to the moment Ward is last visible standing. The sound may or may not be synced. That may not be Stewart’s car you’re hearing. No one has any idea what that car was doing before it entered the frame, least of all, the conflicting eye-witnesses.

    I don’t know what Tony Stewart’s intentions were, but one thing is certain. If young Mr. Ward had stayed in his car, he’d be alive today. If he hadn’t run out into traffic, he’d be alive.

    I also agree with Jack that it almost appears that Ward was approaching to trying to punch or slap the car.

  • avatar

    I know enough not to step out of a car on an active race track, what was an even more experienced driver like Kevin Ward Jr thinking? As one commenter on the radio today at noon put it, you don’t step away from your car on an active race track unless you and/or your car is on fire. This is one sad teachable moment.

  • avatar

    You’re provided an interesting perspective Jack, one I haven’t seen presented anywhere else. Some people are using this incident to push their anti-NASCAR or anti-Tony Stewart agenda. I’ve even seen one imbecile use this story to forward his racist sense of victimization. If they’re fans of any type of racing, they should consider that many in their audience are not.

  • avatar

    I watched Nascar God/clown Dale Earnhardt intentionally wreck people for years and nobody said anything. I now wonder if anybody had died what would have happened.

  • avatar

    An interesting point—not mine, and I can’t recall where I read it—is that Mr. Ward may have suffered a mild brain injury in the crash (of his car; not the clipping by Stewart) and that said injury might’ve contributed to a misjudgement on his part.

    Brain injury in sport is an interesting topic, and one that’s just started getting a good depth of study in the past few years. I do wonder how much risk-taking behaviour is the result of someone’s cerebrum getting smacked against the inside of their skull one too many times.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the first day of sailing when I was 10 years old. (Second summer for us.) They sent us out on a day where we had no business going out–the wind and the swells were quite high. My brother, 12, and I, got fairly far out in the harbor. He was doing the tiller and the mainsail, and I was on the jib. Several times he’d asked me if I’d wanted to turn (as in around). What with the wind noise, I’d heard “do you want a turn?” No, I did not. Finally, when we were way out, I heard him correctly. But we were unable to come about. After maybe five tries, we jibed, and immediately shipped water, capsizing the sprite.

    We pulled ourselves back onto the bottom of the boat, shivering. At some point he asked me if I wanted to swim for it. We had life jackets and all, but I didn’t anticipate being able to swim to shore through the swells, and I’d heard numerous times that one should stay with the boat. Luckily, all that made sense to him, and eventually the “club tub” picked us up.

  • avatar

    He should have stayed in the car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Yours is an interesting theory I hadn’t considered.

    However, disasters never have a single cause.

    Much turns on whether Stewart darted toward Ward just a bit to give him a little scare, or to teach him a lesson. Ward’s alleged showboating won’t matter if any intent by Stewart can be proven.

    Only Stewart knows what he himself was thinking, and his future in racing will reveal his conscience. If this was purely accidental, Stewart should be able to race out his career with a heavy heart but a clear conscience. If Stewart had any questionable intent whatsoever, he will struggle professionally and personally until he comes clean.

    • 0 avatar

      Much might turn on that, but a sprint car doesn’t turn without a bit of throttle. All the armchair racing experts that don’t know the difference between jack and a tire jack all seem to be pointing fingers. There’s a reason people that race aren’t condemning Stewart, regardless of whether or not he’s a chest-beating NASCAR moron.

  • avatar

    My cursory review of the video

    Yes he should have stayed in the car
    other vehicles seemed to just be circulating when Ward was out f the car?
    Stewarts car clearly accelerates rapidly enough to break traction immediately before impact

    Based on what I saw it doesn’t look like just a terrible racing incident

    • 0 avatar

      I certainly can’t detect acceleration from the split second Stewart’s car is in view.

      I’m sorry for Ward and feel the pain of his family and friends, but what killed him was immaturity and poor anger management. Not unlike many tragic cases of road rage gone wrong.

      Why is it that if a football player breaks his neck on the field it’s a tragic sports injury, but when something happens on a race track it’s investigated like a crime scene?

      • 0 avatar

        I, too, didn’t see any acceleration. I don’t think that (a) Tony realized that a car behind him hit the wall, (b) or knew that there was a guy running around the track, or (c) knew who that guy was and that that guy was in fact pissed at him (and not the 45 car).

      • 0 avatar

        Put the headphones on. Then it’s clear he floors the accelerator just when he passed Ward.

        • 0 avatar

          It doesn’t matter if he’s got headphones on, is listening on a crowded subway, in the middle of rush hour traffic on I-95 or sitting in an isolated sound studio.

          Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that is Stewart’s car revving, not any one of the dozens of other cars on track.

          Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that this particular video has fully synced video and sound (which is a stretch, considering how many YouTube videos lose this in conversion).

          How long does sound take to reach the camera from the car at the distance between the incident and the camera? It takes roughly 1/3 of a second for sound to travel 100meters. That’s 10 frames in a video.

          Let’s say that they’re closer to 65-75 meters. That’s still 6-8 frames of video. The car is only in frame for 11 before it’s past where Ward was standing.

          When exactly did the sound start? In video editing software maybe around frame 3-4 of the car being visible. Logically, if the audio and video were synced, that means the rev started before the car came into frame.

          But there’s no way to tell how well synced they are, so it’s just a wild ass guess.

          If you think you know what you saw and are able to draw conclusions from watching this one video (other than Mr. Ward shouldn’t have been on the track itself) you are jumping to conclusions.

        • 0 avatar

          ow do you know the engine noise came from Stewart’s car? Also, that clearly wasn’t more than a throttle blip, full throttle on a sprint car is much louder than that.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve reviewed that clip carefully, and I don’t see any change in the path of Tony’s car until its rear wheel strikes Ward. I suggest looking at it in full screen mode, and use the pause/start button frequently. I’d also suggest you watch it at least 15 times, and with the sound off so that you can concentrate on the visual.

      It’s hard to tell much of anything from that two or three tenths of a second’s worth of video.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the problem.

      What you think you “clearly” saw is not what you saw.

      Download the video and watch it in video editing software. There is no change in direction in the 11 frames of video that he’s on screen before the collision.

      If you think you can detect acceleration in the 0.37 seconds and within one car length in a poor quality video, that’s your brain’s gap filling capabilities overreaching what the eye’s actually capable of seeing.

  • avatar

    Like others, I hadn’t considered the ‘fame’ aspect of what Ward did, i.e., it wouldn’t have happened except Stewart was a huge NASCAR superstar and Ward jumped at the chance to catch a little of that superstardom by an incredibly reckless act which ultimately cost him his life.

    Likewise, maybe Stewart hadn’t considered that Ward would put himself into a position to get himself so easily killed. Angry drivers jumping out of racecars on the small, local tracks is not that unusual, so Stewart, in his long career, has almost assuredly encountered it before, maybe even engaging in such behavior himself. But in all those incidents, the driver on the track certainly had enough sense to not get into the way of a moving vehicle in a manner to get himself injured, so maybe Stewart hadn’t counted on Ward getting so near his moving car, likely thinking, “Surely this fool won’t get close enough to get himself killed”.

  • avatar

    When this first made the news I was asked by several of the hourly guys what I thought about “that Tony Stewart thing”. My first response was “Who’s Tony Stewart?” I thought, maybe a baseball player? I scored no points for the management team.

    I guess that as long as they confine themselves to running each other over it poses no great societal peril.

  • avatar

    Well I’ve been busy for a while but I just saw this and I had to go look up what happened. Seems like a tragic accident on Stewart’s part and I agree with Baruth that Ward was intending to get famous or get a highlight on ESPN atleast.

    I’m not going to get into a finer debate about Stewart’s intentions, moving at any velocity above about 45 MPH pretty much means missing somebody within a car length of moving is near impossible. Just them moving towards the car can create enough visual difference to cause a miscalculation. Say what you will about the anger NASCAR drivers have and their willingness to fistfight but if Stewart were as bloodthirsty to murder a man with his car we would see far more shootings and murder of other drivers.

    This is a really tragic accident. I’m not a follower of NASCAR but I can’t imagine the scars Stewart will carry with him the rest of his days.

    • 0 avatar

      This may be the first time I’ve agreed with you, but Amen!

      Tony Stewart will never be the same. The baggage won’t leave.

      • 0 avatar

        Unfortunately, Tony Stewart has just embarrassed NASCAR. His career is over. As of today’s race in Michigan, he’s still not racing, and the talk in the paper is that there’s still two weeks to go in the investigation.

        Tony Stewart has always been known to be something of a rough(er) character, and NASCAR has never been happy with his racing sprint cars. I’m fully expecting him to to quietly edged out of NASCAR, whether he wants to go or not.

  • avatar

    And that boys and girls is why there is a group of people who are dedicated to intervening after a crash. Don’t get out of the car unless you are in real danger being inside it.

  • avatar

    A tough call but at this point in time, my vote is for Tony.

    He is out there to win but he always seems to stop short of crashing all those faster than he is, unlike quite a number of the 14-25 year-olds in all forms of auto racing.

    The adage “I’m out here and I have just as much right to my line as he does his” only works if the other guy is very similar in performance to you. When someone disappears from your windshield then four laps later re-appears in your rear view mirror, you pull over and indicate which side you want to be passed on.

    Tony likely has five times the amount in just his engine as they have in their whole car. Don’t be a fool: let him go by then follow him as best you can to learn how to race the track.

    Young Mr. Ward hadn’t even scratched the surface of life when he died. It’s only a guess but Tony possibly looked at himself at that age, what all he has learned, and seriously grieves that Ward will never have that chance to grow and develop into his full potential.

    Many of us also share in that tragedy.

    • 0 avatar

      “Young Mr. Ward hadn’t even scratched the surface of life when he died. It’s only a guess but Tony possibly looked at himself at that age, what all he has learned, and seriously grieves that Ward will never have that chance to grow and develop into his full potential.”

      Well said, Car Person.

  • avatar

    Until I hear from a NASCAR racer who’s capable or expressing himself clearly I have to respect Jack’s view here. It only makes a sad situation sadder. All the same, thanks for telling us how it looks from your perspective Jack. While sad, it makes more sense than the usual half witted babble from the nightly news.

  • avatar

    Why are we still talking about this? Very simple. Hot headed kid steps into traffic. Hot headed kid gets hit by car.

  • avatar

    Look at this picture of a sprint car:

    Now tell me how a driver can see through the wing to his right. It’s so long and in the way, probably Stewart never saw Ward’s final lunge.

  • avatar

    Tony is usually never at a loss for words, unless he is guilty of something.

  • avatar

    Risk taking is a personality trait.

    e.g. Autoerotic asphyxiation is a risk taking activity that frequently leads to accidental death. It doesn’t develop from brain injury.

    Sad & tragic. I’m sure both parties would wish they could undo it. They can’t.

  • avatar

    Stewart should be up on charges and never drive a race car again.

  • avatar

    I don’t get it. Does TTAC cover this story or not? A 1995-ish “come to my site”-post seems odd.

  • avatar

    The local cops and DA have much more evidence than us internet typing pool. Like other videos and interviews with drivers and spectators. Let’s wait and see. Personally, at this moment, I’m glad I’m not Tony.

  • avatar

    I’m not a legal expert, but I’ve been around a lot of race tracks. The more I think about it, the more I think that unless their are criminal charges the only money the award family will see will be out of the kindness of Stewart’s heart.

    To start with, I don’t think Tony Stewart did anything wrong in this incident and no one has been able to prove the popular theory that this happened because “Stewart is a hot head”. From there the question becomes civil liability. Forgetting that these types of wrongful death lawsuits with racing drivers rarely go well for the plaintiffs.

    First there Canadaigua Speedway, which some are saying could be liable because of a lack of lighting. The answers to that are 1) no one forced this driver to participate in the race, 2) to voluntarily participate in this race, Ward had to sign a waiver of liability and 3) poor lighting did not cause him to commit the negligent act of exiting his damaged race car and walk onto a hot race track while cars were slowing for the caution he caused.

    #3 is pretty much the beginning and end of the discussion of Stewart’s liability as well. Had Stewart walled or otherwise crashed into Ward’s car, fatally injuring him, there might be a case. As soon as Ward exited the race car, he assumed liability for his own actions.

    It’s hard to say to the grieving parents of a dead child, but he killed himself just as much as the high school kid who is given too powerful a car for his age and maturity and runs it into a tree.

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