I’m not a crazy NASCAR fan, by any stretch of the imagination. I’d be what you’d call extremely casual. I watch maybe three races, at the most, each season. I love cars. I will admit that much! But, I’m more of a Top Gear girl than a NASCAR girl. I’d rather watch a few British dumbasses pull idiotic pranks in overpriced supercars than watch a bunch of professional drivers continuously turning left at a high rate of speed. With that said, I do have a favorite NASCAR driver.
When news exploded on my Facebook feed Saturday night about Tony Stewart hitting a fellow sprint car driver during a race, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Well, that had to be the most unfortunate accident!” Then, I started scrolling through the comments and came across this video:
I d0n’t, by any means, hold Kevin Ward entirely blameless in this horrific accident, because, let’s face it, no one, and I really do mean NO ONE should be walking out on that dirt track like that while cars are still going around it, caution or no caution. But, Tony Stewart himself has done this exact same thing. However, it’s clearly evident in that video that Tony floored his gas pedal, which caused his back end to swing out on that loose dirt, prior to hitting Ward. This is where I lay fault on Stewart.
It is a well-known fact in the racing fan community that Tony Stewart has a hot temper, as documented in this about.com post and this May, 2010, opinion piece from Bleacher Report. The guy was a walking time bomb, and everyone knew it. It doesn’t surprise me, given all of the previous evidence of Tony’s rage, that he’d one day lose control of it behind the wheel and do something very stupid that he’d regret for the rest of his life and that would hurt a lot of other people.
This isn’t just about Tony Stewart’s fans. Kevin Ward had fans, as well. Kevin Ward had family and friends. When you hear the talking heads on the news reporting on or updating about this story, it’s always all about Tony. Tony didn’t drive Sunday. Tony expressed deep sadness. Tony this; Tony that. What about Kevin? The guy lost his life because Tony couldn’t keep his temper in check and, with one flick of his ankle, ended Kevin’s life. How about we stop thinking about how Tony feels for one solid second and talk to Kevin’s family? It would be refreshing to see an outpouring of support for this young man and his grieving family instead of sticking up for a loose cannon.
On the streets, if you are behind the wheel, it doesn’t matter what a pedestrian does, you are still supposed to maintain control of your vehicle at all times. If a pedestrian yells obscenities at you and even goes so far as to step into your lane of traffic, that does not give you permission to floor your gas pedal and drive recklessly around them. If you do so and end up injuring that person, you can expect the police to charge you because the law and common sense dictates that since your vehicle is bigger and more dangerous, you should be exercising caution with it. What makes this any different on a race track? Yes, the pedestrian is still partially at fault, but he was not the one operating a large piece of dangerous machinery and his body is not going to kill you or your car while you are behind the wheel.
NASCAR should remove Tony Stewart from racing until a full and thorough investigation has been done into this accident and until some sort of punishment has been implemented. I do not believe that he has learned his lesson yet. NASCAR gave him the option of racing Sunday, and it is my personal belief that the only reason Tony didn’t race was because an appreciable amount of NASCAR fans voiced their concern that he’d race the day after taking someone’s life on another track. Tony is a narcissist and is a disaster looking for a chance to happen. Should he injure or kill another person while racing, I believe NASCAR will be as much to blame as he is for continuing to allow him to race without repercussions.
For an update from NASCAR regarding this accident, please see “TONY STEWART INVOLVED IN FATAL SPRINT CAR INCIDENT“.