CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Racing fans wore orange to honor the 20-year-old driver hit and killed at an upstate New York race by a car driven by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park asked fans to wear Kevin Ward Jr.‘s team color on Saturday night, one week after the driver was killed during a race. Track officials say the tribute was held with the blessings and some encouragement from Ward’s family.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that fans walked through the gates wearing orange jackets, hoodies and T-shirts. Some of them customized their clothes with designs or messages.
“I felt the least I could do was come out and pay my respect,” Brandon Lewis, of Webster, New York, told the newspaper. “I have a lot of racing buddies down in southern New York. It hit home down there, too.”
Ward had crashed following contact with Stewart during a sprint car race Aug. 9 in Canandaigua, and then got out of his car as it was stopped along the fence. Video of the incident showed Ward walking from his crashed car onto the racing surface as cars circled by, and, as he gestured at Stewart’s passing car, he was struck.
Ward — who is from Port Leyden, 55 miles from Syracuse — died of blunt force trauma, an autopsy found.
Authorities questioned Stewart but said no criminal charges have been filed.
Stewart sat out last weekend’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen and Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. His plans for the rest of the season have not been determined.
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