Two racing teams engaged in an altercation; A tech official was involved and later died
New Smyrna Speedway is a half-mile asphalt track in New Smyrna Beach, FL. The short track hosted night two of the ‘World Series of Asphalt’ on Saturday.
The Sportsman division brought drama to the complex. Bryan Kruczek and Matthew Green traded fenders for the second night in a row in the race to the finish.
On Saturday, Bryan Kruczek crossed the line as the race winner. Green won the night before.
The podium was conducted on the front stretch. It brought the two crews together in a shouting match.
Both teams then drove to the infield tech area. Things became physical between the two teams.
Disqualification at New Smyrna Speedway
Officials elected to disqualify both drivers for unsportsmanlike conduct. Wayne Smith, who crossed the finish line 3rd, was handed the win.
“They were disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct,” RJ Scott of the Champion Racing Association (CRA) explained. “A combination of unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse of officials and conduct detrimental to the sport.”
“He ran me like a kid and parked me in the wall last night so I wasn’t going to give him anything tonight,” Kruczek said on the NBC TrackPass broadcast.
Kruczek added, “I don’t race people like that but if he wants to race like that then that’s how we’re going to race.”
“I didn’t get raced, I got door-slammed before the restart even went,” Green said after the race.
Green continued, “He got three car lengths on me and I had to pull up before we got to the starting box, and the officials let it go. We got the win last night and we proved tonight that we had the dominating car. This is a Sportsman race, not a demolition derby and that’s what happened.”
After the ruling, the teams were involved in a second altercation. Local reports indicate some sort of fight broke out between up to 40 men and went on for near half an hour.
Track officials attempted to breakup and disuse the altercation.
Rusty Crews, a New Smyrna Speedway technical official was one of the men attempting to breakup the fight. Instead, the tech official was knocked unconscious.
Crews woke up following the altercation. However, he passed away overnight.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the altercation. They have stated that it remains unclear if injuries from the fight later resulted in the death.
“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,” a county official said on Sunday afternoon.
This story will be updated below if new information becomes available.
New Smyrna Speedway: Statement
“Last night we lost our long time friend, Rusty Crews. While numerous sources have addressed the events and details concerning the event last night, we are still awaiting the final results of the investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office,” the track opened in a release.
“What we can say with certainty is that the sudden loss of Rusty Crews has been devastating to drivers, their crews, and fans of New Smyrna Speedway and others throughout the racing community.”
Speedway co-owner Robert Hart commented, “Rusty was a true friend, always looked out for others at the racetrack, and loved racing. I can’t describe how terrible this loss is.”
Co-owner Jane Hart stated, “I can’t think of a time at New Smyrna Speedway without Crews.”
Speedway manager Rusty Marcus stated, “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. While this is a tough time, we are going to move forward and honor his memory as a racing family.”
The track added, “New Smyrna Speedway will continue to work with Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. We will continue to make updates and statements as information becomes available. For now we offer our condolences and prayers to his companion Deniele, his son Clay, his daughter Cyndi, and the rest of the Crews family.”
This post has been updated with statements from the speedway.
Volusia Sheriff: Statement
On Monday, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office released the following:
“A New Smyrna Speedway employee had a medical emergency following an altercation at the racetrack early Sunday and later died at an area hospital.”
“Volusia sheriff’s detectives are continuing a death investigation after 59-year-old Russell Crews was pronounced dead shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday at AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach.”
“Earlier, around 12:30 a.m., deputies had responded to New Smyrna Speedway (3939 S.R. 44, New Smyrna Beach) in reference to a large altercation between two race teams, involving a dozen or more people. Witnesses reported that Crews went in to disperse the crowd and also become involved in an altercation.”
“Afterward, with the crowd dispersed and parties separated, witnesses said Crews sat down and began having a medical episode. A witness started performing CPR on Crews before an EMS crew arrived, took over CPR and transported Crews to the hospital.”
“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. An autopsy was scheduled for today, and the investigation remains active. There were no other injuries reported.”
This post has been updated with the police statement.