Rich people live in a different world than the likes of you and me. For the rich AND famous, it’s another universe. I’ve never even been close to being rich and and while I’ve experienced being a big fish in a small pond, I’ve never even come close to the notoriety of a Tony Stewart. Instinctively, we know that the rich and famous live by a different set of rules, but there’s a part of us that doesn’t know the fullness of what that really means.
Let us consider the matter of Tony Stewart and the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him by the family of Kevin Ward Jr. Most of you know the story: the 21-year old Ward felt like the three-time NASCAR Cup champion wrecked him out at Canandaigua Motorsports Park during a Saturday night sprint car race and wanted to voice his displeasure. He ran out onto the track in the direction of Stewart, no doubt to get his best Kurt Busch or Robby Gordon on, and make it known he wouldn’t be pushed around. Things got messy after that.
Stewart’s right rear tire ran over Ward, causing massive damage to his chest and heart, and severing the young racer’s spine. On that August night, Kevin Ward Jr. died. That last sentence is a fact. There’s conjecture about the details. One doctor said tests revealed enough THC in Ward’s system to impair his judgement. Thus, Tony Stewart’s fans say Ward was a pot smoker who had no business racing that night. Ward’s supporters paint Stewart as a hotheaded superstar determined to teach the young ‘un a lesson, only to lose to control of his car on the New York dirt, and ended causing more damage than he had bargained. A few foolish (my opinion) souls even believe Stewart meant to run over Ward.
A long time ago, a grand jury said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against the racing legend. The Ward family took a path similar to that of the Ron Goldman family in the OJ Simpson and pursue civil damages. This matter has hung like a dark, nasty storm cloud since, just waiting to pour down rain. Today, the two sides settled out of court.
If it were you or me, speaking for myself, I’d have fought it tooth and nail. My reputation is all I have. I am standing up and pleading to my last breath my innocence. It’s different for a celebrity like Tony Stewart.
Something like this suit could drag on for an eternity. Smoke has a life to live. He’s enjoying the fruits of racing retirement, hobby racing as the spirit moves him, and then there’s his business interests with Stewart-Haas Racing and Eldora Speedway. Heck, he’s even engaged to be married now.
Further complicating matters is his reputation. There’s replete evidence of anger management issues on the part of Tony Stewart. Let’s face it: on any given day, he’s not a pleasant person to be around. You’d be a fool to think this wouldn’t weigh on a decision-makers’ mind. Then there’s all the continual talk of this suit that mars the brand of a man who is as passionately loved as he is reviled.
Often, for a person in Tony Stewart’s station in life, it’s easier just to try to make it go away. You’d have to imagine Stewart is thinking “Regardless of my intent or actions, I was involved in the death of another man.” That’s nearly impossible to live with for anyone with much of a soul, and I believe he most definitely has one. If you subscribe to the notion that Stewart was negligent, then there’s the knowledge that this man will have to live with it the rest of his life. Nothing will bring Kevin Ward Jr. back. Nothing.
To that end, the Ward’s will never really get what they want. The sum total of a nation’s GDP will not bring the younger Kevin Ward to life. Will the money really ease the pain? Hell no. I truly don’t think that’s what the Wards are really after. As I understand Kevin Ward Sr. is a successful businessman and does just fine in that sense. Is it to make Tony Stewart suffer in some small way? Perhaps. A financial settlement at least has a feeling of getting one to admit guilt- even if he says otherwise.
No one truly wants to linger in their suffering. I don’t think the Ward’s really want to through more legal wranglings. Certainly, Stewart doesn’t. Tony Stewart has the means put it to rest, at least legally. Deep down inside, his knows nothing he says or does will make his fans or foes feel differently than they do now.
At least he has the means to shake free of the legal portion of this nightmare. For a person of lesser means, something like this can drag on for years and years. Hopefully, this is the last time I will ever feel the need to chime in on it.