IT WAS a scene that could have been taken straight out of Talladega Nights: an American NASCAR star hits a Sydney track owner with his helmet, and gets a black eye in return. It would be comical, if not for the fact it was serious enough to involve police.
The altercation between Tony Stewart, the twice NASCAR Sprint Series champion who reportedly earned $19 million last year, and Brett Morris, the co-owner of the Sydney Speedway, played out on Saturday night at the Sprintcar Grand National event at Granville.
Stewart was one of 10 Americans competing, but the fact he did not race beyond his heat - he was conspicuously absent in the semi-feature and feature race - might have been a giveaway that something was up. The reason for his absence, it turned out, was a heated exchange with Morris, that turned even uglier when Stewart supposedly whacked the track owner with his helmet.
Morris, not slight in build, allegedly struck back according to witnesses, leaving Stewart nursing a black eye. If that was not demoralising enough, the American found himself questioned by police at Rosehill station, but was released without charge.
''Police from Rosehill central command were alerted to an altercation involving two men at a race car track about 7:30 last night,'' NSW police spokeswoman Joanne Elliott said yesterday. ''A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene after a 46-year-old man was allegedly hit in the face by a racing helmet.
''The 39-year-old man was released without charge, pending further investigation.''
There was speculation late yesterday that Stewart had been upset about track conditions, but neither he nor Morris could be contacted for comment. Stewart was scheduled to leave Australia yesterday and the police spokeswoman said the incident would not stop his departure.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Sydney Speedway Owner Gives Tony Stewart A Black Eye
reports on the incident: