Tragedy that killed race car driver causes local tracks to enforce "stay in car" rule

Updated: 08/12/2014 5:16 PM
Created: 08/12/2014 4:35 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

Saturday's accident that killed Kevin Ward Jr. has left an impact on other racetracks around our area. They're taking steps now to avoid what happened in Canandaigua.

Because of what happened Saturday night, a lot of local tracks, including the Genesee County Speedway in Batavia, are starting to change the way they deal with drivers.

They're either instituting a new rule that says if there's a wreck, the driver has to stay in his or her car, or if the racetracks already have that rule, they're going to start enforcing it.

"Our track policy is to stay in your car," Annette Mazur said. Mazur owns the Genesee County Speedway. But now she and her crew at are going to start enforcing that policy and penalize drivers who break it.

"If anyone does get out of their car they're going to lose points and money for the night," Mazur said.

Today we learned a handful of tracks from Batavia to Syracuse are making changes to rules or strictly enforcing existing driver rules trying to keep their drivers in their cars. The changes come after Kevin Ward Junior got out of his car to confront Tony Stewart during a race in Canandaigua Saturday. Ward died after he was hit by Stewart's car.

Brean: "So I guess that's what you're trying to do right? Deter drivers from getting our of their car when they're angry."
Annette Mazur: "Correct. Or at any point. Most of the time the driver, besides being angry, wants to get out and wants to see the damage to their car so they can, but you know what? You're not going to get towed in any quicker. You're not accomplishing anything by getting out except for taking your life in your hands which is the incident that happened."

The driver rules do allow the drivers to get out of their cars if it's for their own safety. For instance, if their car is on fire after a crash.

Mazur has been in racing for years. Her son is a driver. She has watched and listened to the video that shows the impact of Stewart's car against Ward. We asked her what she thinks happened.   

Brean: "People who aren't familiar with racing will have heard Tony Stewart's car rev."
Mazur: "Right."
Brean: "What did that mean do you think?"
Mazur: "In all honesty I really don't know. A lot of times when they're reving their tires they're trying to cool the engine down, maybe they're trying to keep the tires hot. I don't think it was anything on purpose or to show off. I think it was an accident. I think it was a tragic accident."

The race promoters in Canandaigua have already canceled the races for Wednesday night. Here is a statement from the Canandaigua Motorsports Park on this weekend's races: "Up until today I could not even think about another show at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. I spoke to Kevin Ward Sr. this morning and he encouraged me to 'Get back to racing at CMP, Kevin would want you to'. I consulted with all my staff also today as well as my family.

Everyone has said that we need to begin to heal and that means we need to come together this Saturday night and put on a show in memory of Kevin Jr and support this great sport that we all love. We need to show our support of everyone that was involved and has been affected. We will be racing this Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park to show the world how strong we are as a racing family! How we can grieve together and come together. I ask that everyone wear something Orange to display our unity! We will be doing something special at the track on Saturday night.

I want to thank everyone for the integrity you have shown in your comments on our Facebook page and for the support you have given my family, all my staff, every racer, and all the fans that have been deeply affected. I am forever grateful."

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