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New Smyrna Speedway Tech Official Dies After Overnight Pit Brawl

Rusty Crews was a lifelong member of the short track community.

A veteran tech official died overnight in New Smyrna Beach, Florida after he was involved in an altercation between two race teams in the Sportsman division competing in the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway.

Rusty Crews, 58, had attempted to break-up a second fight between competitors shortly after midnight. Before joining the New Smyrna Speedway technical staff, Crews had most notably served in a similar capacity for the CRA Super Late Model Series and USAR Pro Cup Series.

For the second night in a row, the Sportsman division race was decided by contact between New Hampshire racer Bryan Kruczek and Florida contender Matthew Green. Kruczek was the flagged winner on Saturday night after Green prevailed on Friday.

With the podium celebrations taking place on the frontstretch, crew members from both teams were shouting at each other immediately after the race, and the conflict would turn physical minutes later in the post-race infield technical compound.

Both drivers were disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct and Wayne Smith was declared the winner.

The teams would be involved in a second and much larger fight after racing festivities concluded for the night. Crews would attempt to break-up the fight and was knocked down in the melee. According to the Daytona Beach Journal, Crews drove up to the fracas on a bobcat and suffered a medical episode that is currently being described as a heart attack.

According to a Volusia County statement, “a witness started performing CPR on Crews before an EMS crew arrived, took over CPR and transported Crews to the hospital.” The law enforcement statement reads that over a dozen participants were involved in the fight.

It’s unclear at this time if Crews’ death was directly linked to his involvement in the brawl.

“At this point in the active investigation, there is no evidence of a direct link between Crews’ death and any specific actions of anyone involved in the altercation,” the statement reads. “An autopsy was scheduled for today, and the investigation remains active. There were no other injuries reported.”

In a statement, Speedway owner Robert Hart reflected on the loss one of his most respected officials.

“Rusty was a true friend, always looked out for others at the racetrack, and loved racing,” Hart said. “I can’t describe how terrible this loss is.”

Martha Hart added: “I can’t think of a time at the Speedway without Rusty.”

Speedway general manager Rusty Marcus says the World Series of Asphalt will continue in Crews’ honor.

“This is an incredibly difficult time and during our employee meeting numerous friends of Crews stated that his desire would be to continue with the program and keep racing,” Marcus said. “While this is a tough time, we are going to move forward and honor his memory as a racing family.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mike Ray

    February 7, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Prayers for family, friends and staff, tragic ans sad…

  2. Diane D.

    February 7, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    So very sorry for this man and his family. People are being so disrespectful to each other….we are losing respect for one another.

  3. Dwight Schurr

    February 7, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    We do not need this in racing what so ever

  4. Tim

    February 7, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Garbage!

  5. Anonymous

    February 7, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Trash

  6. Gordon

    February 7, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Trash

  7. Norma Rowland

    February 7, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    Goodness Gracious Nascar hadn’t even started a fight already this grown men should know better out there fighting ant going get you nowhere you all need to come together this is just Nascar race thank you Norma Rowland

  8. Anonymous

    February 8, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Many Prayers for family and friends!Big fines going to both teams involved with the money going to Crews family!

  9. Peggy

    February 9, 2021 at 12:21 am

    When you Have to fight at the track to get your spoiled asses a win….please do us all a favor stay home!! We are there to have fun support the drivers.
    Prayers for Crews family and friends at the track.

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