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Track Official Dies Following Pit Area Brawl At New Smyrna Speedway

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https://racedayct.com/2021/02/trackofficial-dies-following-pit-area-brawl-at-new-smyrna-speedway/

 

New-Smryna-World-Series-Logo-2021--550x2

Multiple sources have confirmed that a track official at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway passed away early Sunday morning following Saturday night events at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

Reporter Matt Weaver of Autoweek and Short Track Scene posted on Twitter that an official track source confirmed to him that track official Rusty Crews died overnight

Multiple other sources in New Smyrna have confirmed to RaceDayCT that Crews was the track official who passed away. 

The circumstances involving Crews’ death are unclear, but multiple sources have confirmed he had been involved in attempting to break up a large brawl taking place in the pits after midnight early Sunday morning at New Smyrna Speedway. 

An official from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said: “It’s still an ongoing investigation. It’s unsure if the death was related to the incident or if there were any underlying medical conditions that could have contributed to the death.”

Sources have confirmed the brawl involved members of two Sportsman division teams for drivers Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket, N.H. and Matthew Green of Orlando, Fla. The brawl took place in the turn three pit area outside of the track.

According to an Emergency Services Synopsis, “Officers responded to assist deputies with a large fight” at 12:24 am Sunday at New Smyrna Speedway.

One eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous told RaceDayCT the brawl involved as many as 40 people and went on for more than 20 minutes. The person said of the fight: “It was the worst thing I have ever seen happen at a race track.”

Attempts to reach track management were unsuccessful Sunday.

The New Smyrna World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing kicked off Friday for nine consecutive nights of racing at the track. The Sportsman division had features scheduled only for Friday and Saturday.  

Kruczek and Green had issues on track together in a 35-lap feature Friday night won by Green and in the 50-lap Saturday night feature, which was won by Kruczek. Reportedly Kruczek was disqualified from his victory Saturday night and Green was disqualified from his second place finish.

The pair made contact battling for the lead on a restart with eight laps remaining in the Friday night event. 

On a restart with six laps remaining in Saturday night’s feature there was contact again with Kruczek taking the lead from Green. 

Tensions flared in victory lane between both teams after both night’s features. 

Following the win Saturday night Kruczek said: “He ran me like a kid [Friday] and he parked me in the wall so I wasn’t going to give him anything tonight. I don’t race people like that. If he wants to race like that that’s how we’re going to race.” 

After the race Saturday Green said: “I didn’t get raced. I got door slammed before the start even [went], he got three car lengths on me and I had to pull back up to him before we got to the start box. The officials let it go. … This is a Sportsman race not a demolition derby and that’s what happened.”

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i have always thought  A RACE TRACK SHOULD HAVE A COOL OFF ROOM  .. both drivers  brought in  just them and get things fixed .. or send them both walking  under security out the gate and off the property ..zero tollerence /.. AS   AN EX DRIVER . and a team mate now i  get mad with others  .a part of racing  cant stop that  .but what you do after that  matters  ..i was one who never  jumped a pit crew over an issue with another driver and i didnt get into shouting matches with a pit crew .. i went to the driver  after a cool down time .. had one beer after a race  once . and never again . if this   is found the track official died from injuries sustained from that fight  .i hope everyone  wakes up .  .and this could shut that track down ...insurance  may pull out and lawsuits may rise from this .. 

Edited by HiTech

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Well , there should be two drivers and their teams that will never get to race there again at the very least.

 

Edited by arob

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4 hours ago, arob said:

Well , there should be two drivers and their teams that will never get to race there again at the very least.

 

looks like a heart attack  they think .. THERE were punches thrown  but did not  say he was hit . .. but no fighting he may still be alive .... 

Edited by HiTech

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Anyone who has spent a lot of time in the pits at short tracks has witnessed many similar situations. Thankfully, most don't end up with the official deceased.  I've seen guns drawn, I've seen tire irons / jack handles brandished, I've even seen a track official purposely run down by an irate driver (at Unity Raceway in Maine). And, of course, we've all seen dozens of on-track and pit fights that weren't quite as dramatic - or life threatening - as some others. 

On a personal note, a now-deceased pit crew member at San Antonio Speedway came after me with a tire iron while my back was turned.  I guess he didn't like a call I had just made against his driver. Gene Moretich, my engine tech guy at the time, saw what was happening and intercepted him just as he was raising his arm to bash my head in.  Gene is a highly trained martial arts guy and had him on the ground with this foot on his throat before I even knew what was happening.  Thanks, Gene. 

Another time I was out on the back straight at Thunderhill with my head stuck in the driver's side of a car I was trying to send to the back of the pack after causing a wreck, when I heard Kathy Tiemann  Waggoner, THR scorekeeper at the time, yell on the radio for me to "Look out!!!"  An irate driver was full bore headed for the car that I was counselling and I got out of the way just in the 'Nick" of time.  Thanks, Kathy. 

Of course, there were other times where I was pushed /shoved and threatened, but, unfortunately,  that is pretty much par for the course if you're a track official. 

Thinking back, one of the most disturbing incidents took place during a Legacy race at THR way back when I was competition director in the early 2000's. After a caution, I was on the back straight lining the cars back up and standing in front of the lead car when the driver, a very young kid, decided to inch forward to tap me in the shins with the front bumper.  Two bruises were the result.  When I went to his pit to confront him and his parents, I was met with belligerence, threats and accusations that I was "picking on a kid."  Their excuse was that his brakes had  failed.  If the brakes failed why was he out on the track in the first place? 

I'm sure there are many instances where track officials have faced similar situations.

Nick

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Luckily, my few years of being a spotter only yielded a couple one finger salutes, a driver completely giving me the cold shoulder while waiting for the field go by as he was being sent to the back, and a driver or two telling me to get away. Sad thing on that driver, I had nothing to do with the call they were upset about, but guilty by association I guess. On the other end, I had a driver thank me for coming by and talking to him after the race he may or may not had a bad call made against him. I also got roosted a time or two which I just laughed and clapped next time they went by under yellow. 

I always tried to put something between myself and any possible contact with a car, however one night at Shady Oaks, a driver's steering wheel came off down the front stretch and went sliding through the infield. He was close enough for me to see the oh $#!+ look in his eyes as he was reaching for the steering wheel as he went by about 5-10 feet away. He even asked if I was ok before I could check on him. Somehow I was more worried about him getting the car stopped before sliding back on the track with no steering wheel. 

Funny one, also in Goliad, I noticed one driver giving some love taps exiting the track. As I was running over towards them (and probably the last time I truly ran lol) the driver getting hit looked at me with the wtf look and the other driver stopped immediately. No one else even saw what was going on and I don't know what I would have done once I got to the two cars but was thankful he stopped. It was a young driver at the time so obviously wouldn't confront the driver (actually both were probably under 18 at the time) but his dad gave me a little smirk and didn't have any issues the rest of the weekend. 

Back to the subject here though, the fights I've seen thankfully didn't involve track officials except one very upset promoter bravely getting in the face of a driver known for being tough to say the least. Thankfully the driver didn't cross the line with the promoter and honestly, wouldn't have blamed him and didn't blame the promoter for being upset but maybe was a little too excited. The fighting people or groups usually didn't involve innocents or officials physically and usually stopped soon after officials or police showed up.

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 well early years all out  battles at cc speedway  satuday fights after and before races ..  .never saw a gun but lots of tire irons  hammers  and what nots .. .  only had one fight at a track and he lost .i do not go to races to fight   i have been mad enough a few times but the better of me took control .. and mainly had a talk or said nothing .. .. .had one driver pull a sledge hammer on me at our racing shop  he lived after a couple of friends got between me and him and saved his ass  by pushing out to is car .. he was heading for a major head and neck issue i  was going to kill him throwing him  into a green   house fan  50 inch or so fan blades no cover  the driver thought i would run / no not going to hit me from behind ,,   glad they were there ...  WE SUPPOSE TO BE HAVING FUN .. 

Edited by HiTech

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