This past week there has been hundreds of stories by news outlets and organizations telling us the gruesome and tragic details of last Saturday nights events at Canadaigua Motorsport Park.
Along with all those stories were opinions and point of views from both sides of the spectrum. No matter how much we either agree or disagree with them in the end they just don’t matter.
I have been asked this week by anyone who knows me if I think Stewart intentionally hit Ward. I can say “no” because I don’t believe that Stewart would ever knowingly hurt another person; let alone cause their death. I can say “no” because there is no evidence proving otherwise. In then end what I think, or what Colin Cowherd thinks, or Nancy Grace thinks means nothing.
Yes, Kevin Ward, Jr. walked onto the track. Yes, Tony Stewart clipped him. In the end a life was lost. Another persons life will never be the same. Two families are left grieving. The loss, the grief, the sadness is suffocating right now.
So many questions that we may never know the answer to. So many answers we may never quite understand.
Blame has been shifted back and forth. For any person who has suffered any loss blame is part of the grieving process. Part of accepting a tragic event even though it just seems so unexplainable.
What happens from the legal side of all this remains to be seen. I know very little about the law and understand even less at times. I do know that I am going to let the people who know about the law and actually practice it decide Stewart’s fate. Whether I agree or not it is irresponsible of me to say otherwise.
From the perspective of motorsports the effect of Ward’s death is still unfolding. Changes need to be made across all forms of motorsports as to procedures when you are involved in accident.
Some tracks have already began to make changes in an effort to avoid this terrible and tragic event again.
Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway, Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va, Lawton (Okla.) Speedway, Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway and Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, are among tracks that have created rules about when drivers can exit their car after an incident.
Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway, which hosts the first Empire Super Sprints race since Ward was killed, issued a bulletin Monday stating that “drivers are required to stay in their car in the event of an on-track incident.’’ A driver disobeying the rule is subject to fine and/or suspension.”
We often talk about in NASCAR that you never want to become complacent. Finding ways to protect the drivers, crews and track officials should be priority number one.
NASCAR said this week that they are open to making their own changes and that everything is always under review. "We always have discussions to become better," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp told USA TODAY Sports. "NASCAR has a history of looking at situations, and we're not afraid to react to them."
Far too often lost this week in all the debate and discussion is Thursday a family will lay to rest their son. A town and racing community mourn the loss of promising young man. Friends and families say goodbye to a young man who is being remembered for his kindness, happiness and his talent on the track.
He should and will not be remembered for what would be his final moments and the events leading up to it. He will be remembered for all the joy he brought and the memories he made with those who love him.
Nothing changes what happened. No article, no news commentary, nothing at all. Nothing will change the massive amount of grief and sadness that the Ward family is facing. Nothing will change Stewart’s part in Ward’s tragic death.
The only hope is that we all learn something from what happened last weekend. We were once again reminded in the most tragic of circumstances that life is short, unpredictable, and at times unfair. That it can rob us of happier times and memories that will never be made.
For a community in upstate New York, Thursday their world stops once again and for a brief time everything that everyone else has said or is saying just doesn’t matter.
Time for grief is now. Blame can wait because it really gets us nowhere.In the end it changes nothing.