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Hendrick Crew Member Killed

| , RacinToday.com Friday, November 27 2020

A tire-carrier for the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports car driven by Alex Bowman, right, was killed in a highway mishap. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

RacinToday.com

Hendrick Motorsports is mourning the loss of a crew member following a tragic Thanksgiving week auto accident.

William Rowdy Harrell, a tire-carrier for HMS’ No. 88 NASCAR Cup Series team, and his wife, Blakley, were killed in a highway crash Tuesday night in the Florida Keys.

Hendrick Motorsports confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon in a report posted on nascar.com and various outlets. Harrell was 30 and his wife, 23. The two were married last Saturday in his home state of Alabama, and the team indicated the couple was on their honeymoon.

“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 88 team, said in a statement provided by the organization from its Charlotte, N.C., headquarters. “They were such positive, giving and passionate people who could not have been a more perfect match.

“Rowdy had an energetic and infectious personality. He was the heart and soul of our team and always kept us motivated, no matter the circumstance. Rowdy shared his love with the people around him and was loved in return. Although he will be greatly missed, his memory will continue to inspire us always. Our prayers are with Rowdy, Blakley and their wonderful family.”

According to a preliminary report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, Harrell was driving north on U.S. 1, a two-lane highway on Lower Matecumbe Key, at approximately 9:40 p.m. (EST) when the 2020 Toyota Corolla he was driving crossed the center line and into the southbound lane and collided with a Ford pickup truck. The 62-year-old male driver of the truck attempted to avoid Harrell’s car by diverting onto the shoulder but could not avoid impact.

Harrell and his wife were both wearing seatbelts, according to the FHP report. The driver of the truck was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. But two of the truck’s passengers _ a 58-year-old female and a 62-year-old male _ were airlifted from the scene in critical condition.

Hired by HMS in September 2013, Harrell had emerged as a pit-crew mainstay over the last eight seasons _ most recently on the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro driven in Cup by Alex Bowman. Harrell also was involved in two championship seasons for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.

“Rowdy was everything that made the 88 team, the 88 team,” Bowman said on Twitter. “The biggest personality and the best person. He was the happiest person you’d ever meet, and that was only reinforced by his wife Blakley. RIP to an absolute legend. You’ll be missed every single day, brother.”

Before his transition to NASCAR, Harrell was a three-time national champion on the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team, making the roster as a walk-on linebacker. He played football at Hale County High School in Moundville, Ala. The school previously had honored him by naming the road leading to the football stadium as Rowdy Harrell Way.

Rowdy is his given middle name. It was inspired by the character Rowdy Yates, played by Clint Eastwood in the “Rawhide” TV series.

Hendrick Motorsports indicated that memorial arrangements had not been confirmed as of Wednesday afternoon.

 

| , RacinToday.com Friday, November 27 2020
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