Stephen Cox, a 30-year old pharmacist from Decatur, Indiana, died Sunday at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center from injuries sustained in a Sept. 14 accident during the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
RWRE spokesman Bill Coady did not provide details Tuesday about the accident or say whether Cox was the driver or passenger in the stock car during the event. Wallace was not at the track when the accident occurred. What is known is that Cox’s father was with him at the track, but said he did not see the crash.
Coady also noted that Cox’s death was the first fatality in the RWRE’s 4-year existence. The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience, which is based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is just one of several organizations throughout the US and Canada operating under the names of famous drivers that offer one-day “fantasy” experiences to the public using ”condensed” NASCAR vehicles featuring manual transmissions. While fans can purchase packages allowing them to drive in a Nationwide Series car, drive-along options are also available is available, as are ride-along options. RWRE’s prices begin at $169 for a 5-lap entry-level package on a short layout and go up to $1,099 for 20 laps on a superspeedway. As with all such companies, classroom and on-track instruction is provided depending on the package. All participants are required to have a valid driver’s license. In addition, participants must have their own health insurance and are responsible for damage to the cars.
Coady also stated that his company “offers a $60 optional plan that limits individual costs to $1,000 and says that ‘due to the quality of the training and cars, damage is rare.”
In the meantime Greg Wallace, Rusty’s son, and vice president of Rusty Wallace, Inc sent a statement to The Associated Press expressing sympathy to Cox’s family, And reiterating the company’s commitment to finding out just what happened.
It should be noted that neither the Gallatin County Sheriff’s office, nor the Kentucky State Police are involved in the case, noting that they do not have the time or resources to investigate every crash at the Speedway.
Born in Misssouri August 14, 1956, Russell William “Rusty” Wallace, Jr. began his career racing in Florida, where he won a pair of local track championships in the early 1970’s. He also claimed victory in more than 200 short track races before winning the United States Auto Club’s (USAC) Stock Car Rookie of the Year honors, ending up 3rd in points behind A.J. Foyt and Bay Darnell. He later finished 2nd behind Joe Ruttman in the 1981 USAC Stock Cars, before going on to take the 1983 American Speed Association (ASA) championship while racing for Penske against some of NASCAR’s future stars like Mark Martin, 1992 NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki and Dick Trickle.
Rusty Wallace is now a member of 4 of stock car racing’s major halls of fame: the NASCAR Hall of Fame (2013), theInternational Motorsports Hall of Fame(2013), the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2014) and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2010), and remains one of racing’s most “charismatic personalities” through his broadcasting career.
His son Stephen currently races in the Nationwide Series having made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at the 2011 Daytona 500, “making him the fourth member of his family to compete in the Daytona 500 and in NASCAR, behind the Bodines (Geoff, Brett, & Todd), Pettys (Lee, Richard, & Kyle), Earnhardts (Dale, Kerry & Dale Jr.), and the Allisons (Bobby, Donnie, & Davey).”