Kevin Ward Jr. remembered as a devoted driver who began racing as a child

Published 08/10 2014 12:16PM

Updated 08/11 2014 06:17PM

Kevin Ward Jr.
Kevin Ward Jr./WSYR-TV Newschannel 9/Courtesy Ed Downing

Canandaigua (WSYR)- As stunned car racing fans watched from the stands at a track in Canandaigua, emergency crews surrounded a motionless young driver on the track late Saturday night.

20-year old Kevin Ward Jr. did not survive.

As investigators review video of the moment's before Ward was struck by Tony Stewart's car, those people in the stands are left with the gut-wrenching memory of watching the death of a driver who first climbed behind the wheel of a Go Kart at the age of 4.

Ward place second in his first race, according to a bio page on a racing website that says he had racing in his blood for his entire life.

The website credits Ward with six track championships and roughly 250 feature wins during eight years of Go Kart racing.

Driven to take the next step, Ward transitioned to a Micro Sprint car, celebrating more wins and two championships.

By 2010, he was ready to move into the next division, eventually earning recognition as the 2012 Empire Super Sprint Rookie of the Year.

The web bio lays out a relatively long career for a young driver who traveled around the state competing in circuits that introduced him to a wide audience and dozens of fellow drivers.

His first Sprint Car feature win in 2011 at Autodrome Drummond is listed as the "most memorable moment of his career...".

There are moments of glory captured at Mohawk International Raceway during a difficult season in 2012.

Last year, he is credited with a spot in the winner's circle at the first ever ESS Asphalt Assault at the Evans Mills Speedway.

This year was his fifth season with Empire Super Sprints.

"Even after he started racing sprint cars...... every year he would make it a point to come and race at the Syracuse indoor Karting championships," said Ed Downing, who describes Ward as a friend. "Racing is what he and his family lived for."

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