It has been the talk of the media and social media since late last Saturday Night August 9th. Tony Stewart was in an accident that caused the death of fellow Sprint Car racer Kevin Ward Jr. Read about the incident here from Dustin Long at MRN: Driver Killed In Incident With Stewart. I have been reluctant to write about it because it is so tragic. My prayers go out to Kevin Ward Jr. and his family. They also go out to Tony Stewart. Watching this get reported and talked about in all media has been very painful for me.
First and foremost I am not a journalist; I am a NASCAR and racing fan who has gone on to write about it. What has gone on in the mainstream media scares me. It has been totally irresponsible. No matter what you think about Tony Stewart, in America you are innocent until proven guilty. As of this writing, there are no charges against Stewart and none pending. The local investigators stated it will take two weeks until they are done with their investigation.
Innocent until proven guilty! Here are some article titles: “Tony Stewart struck, killed driver in sprint car.” Fox Sports. “Tony Stewart Hits, Kills Out-Of-Car Racer” CBS. Though these titles are technically accurate, they lead the reader somewhere that may or not be true. They read like he purposely did this. There are many more even more salacious and wrong titles out there.
Here is an attempt to be more accurate: “NASCAR’s Tony Stewart allegedly hits, kills driver at dirt-track race in New York” CNN. Well he didn’t allegedly hit him, I saw it on TV. I liked Dustin Long’s title; it was the most accurate of them all.
I don’t want to be the one calling this out. I know some of these media people, but I live in the internet. That is what I do. These titles live on for eternity. One has to get the reader, via the search engines in 70 characters or less. Google Tony Stewart Murder, it’s awful even though he hasn’t been charged with a crime.
I know a truck driver who witnessed a kid who lost control of his bike and was run over by another truck. It is just as tragic as what happened at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. When that story was reported, the title wasn’t “Enter Name Here Struck, Killed Kid on Bike”; only for the title to live on the internet in perpetuity for the poor truck driver regardless of what the investigation proves or does not. Why is Tony Stewart different?
I have purposely refrained from reporting on and commentating on the accident between Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. I wasn’t there. I only saw a video on ESPN. Every time I tried to write about the subject it was impossible for me to not get sucked into the abyss of speculation and conjecture. Jerry Bonkowski laid it out better than I ever could in his article “Don’t be too quick to judge Tony Stewart, let the experts do their jobs.”
Unfortunately even if the investigation comes out that it was simply an accident that may have been preventable, the damage to Tony Stewart and his career is done. Hopefully something good can come out of this but right now it doesn’t look that way. To me as a super race fan it is truly horrible. We just might lose one of the best drivers of all time over this.
Feature Photo Credit: 297144 Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images