Racecar Driver Tony Stewart Faces Uncertain Future After Involvement in Fatal Car Crash
INSIDE EDITION is learning more about the NASCAR driver who's under fire after running over and killing another driver in a horrifying moment captured on video.
A man in the video screamed, "Oh he hit him! Tony Stewart just hit that guy!"
And now, the nation is asking just who is Tony Stewart? The NASCAR driver has a red-hot temper that earned him the nickname "Smoke?"
Stewart was born for his sport. He first raced at the age of seven in a go-cart. Stewart's talents behind the wheel have made him a rich man worth and estimated $70 million dollars. He even has a dazzling collection of classic cars. He was able to purchase more than 400 acres of land in southern Indiana to build a breathtaking home.
But when things don't go his way on the track, Stewart's rage seems to know no bounds.
Two years ago, an enraged Stewart hurled his helmet at another driver's car after the two bumped on the track. Stewart's words following the incident were even more chilling,saying, "I learned my lesson there," said Stewart. "I'm going to run over him now till the end of the year, every chance I got."
Stewart discussed his famous temper with David Letterman in 2005.
Stewart told Letterman, "If you follow a guy long enough and he's not really letting you by, you kind of give him that tap the first time, and it's normally a pretty gentle tap the first time. The second time is a little stronger, and normally if that doesn't work, the third time he normally ends up in the wall and he figures out that maybe he should have let you by the first two times."
The fatal encounter over the weekend on a track in upstate New York began when Stewart's Sprint car appeared to bump a car driven by up-and-coming driver Kevin Ward. Ward lept out of the car, angrily pointing his finger at Stewart's approaching car.
Now, many are asking if Stewart could have deliberately run into the 20-year-old driver.
INSIDE EDITION spoke to Geoff Bodine, a former NASCAR racing champ, who does not think Stewart's actions were deliberate.
"The track wasn't lit very properly, very dim," said Bodine. "Tony didn't see Kevin there, obviously. He reacted, tried to swerve, tried to miss him, but unfortunately wasn't able to."
So far, authorities have said there was no evidence of criminal intent, but that could change.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Daniel Hochheiser told INSIDE EDITION, "I think the investigation is going to turn on whether Tony Stewart intended to hit Kevin Ward. That's going to be a very difficult thing to prove and figure out, because the intent is inside Tony Stewart's mind. Nobody really knows what he intended except for him."
Stewart expressed remorse in a statement, saying, "There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.."
Ward's family released their own statement saying, "We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this."