Let’s Remember Kevin Ward Jr.

Motor racing is dangerous -it says it on every ticket sold and on signs at race tracks, but it doesn’t make it any easier when a fatality occurs.

My thoughts go out to all of Kevin Ward Jr.’s friends and family members at this difficult time. The 20-year-old died after being struck by Tony Stewart’s car during a sprint car race on Saturday. No matter what the circumstances, we should be mourning the death of a young racer.

There has been a lot of media coverage of this incident due to three-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart’s involvement. My thoughts are also with Tony Stewart after the tragic accident. I am shocked with some of the media coverage and comments made. Even trusted publications such as Forbes and the Irish Independent lead with headlines which say “Tony Stewart kills driver”.

Tony Stewart is not a murderer. He is not a criminal. Investigators have found no criminal intent and the investigation is ongoing. So why have these harsh headlines? Headlines should at least give the name of the deceased, Kevin Ward Jr. should be the focus of the stories.

I remember the 2011 MotoGP race in Malaysia. Marco Simoncelli died when he was struck by the bikes of Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards. All of the headlines paid respect to Simoncelli and didn’t point blame at the other riders. Why can’t we have the same respect for Ward Jr.?

Many people had never heard of Kevin Ward Jr. before Saturday, myself included. But he was a racer who was competing his way up the ladder.

Sprint car racing is not a high profile racing series. It doesn’t take place at large tracks in front of thousands of people. In the United States it is used as a stepping stone towards IndyCar Series or NASCAR.

Stewart continued to use the series to race before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. (It might be confusing, but sprint cars are not related to the NASCAR Sprint Cup -which is named after its sponsor, Sprint, the American telecommunications network)

Stewart had raced a sprint car last month for the first time since breaking his leg in a race in Iowa last August. He returned to the series because it was a hobby of his. Whether it is a hobby he will continue to do remains to be seen.

I wish everyone could park their accusations and hurtful words for just one day. The world lost a racer on Saturday. Let’s stop pointing fingers and simply remember Kevin Ward Jr.