Auto racing star Tony Stewart became a momentary video sensation two years ago for his road rage after a collision with rival Matt Kenseth. Stewart got out of his car, walked back onto the pit road, waited for Kenseth’s car to come around and threw his helmet at it. Afterwards, Stewart said, “I’m going to run over him every chance I’ve got from now until the end of the year.” The NASCAR world largely laughed it off as mere blowing off steam in a sport infused with danger, machismo, and occasional fistfights between crashed drivers. But there was no laughing Saturday as Stewart was involved in another confrontation, this time with fatal results.
In a dirt-track race in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, a bump by Stewart sent the car of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. crashing into a wall. Ward got out of his car, walked toward the middle of the track and angrily pointed his finger at Stewart’s car. As Stewart passed, his car fishtailed, hitting and killing Ward. Local authorities say there is no evidence of criminal intent by Stewart, despite his history of tempestuous behavior. Even so, NASCAR should conduct its own investigation, and keep Stewart out of competition until its completion. And if Stewart’s road rage is found to have played a role in Ward’s death, Stewart should be banned from NASCAR competition for life.