Racing community remembers longtime driver

Jackie Ward died after a crash at Myrtle Beach Speedway Friday afternoon. Investigators said he died from natural causes. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

Myrtle Beach racers are mourning the death of one of their own after 56-year-old Jackie Ward died during a Friday afternoon race.

Investigators said he died of natural causes.

It was his first race back after a broken foot.

"I saw him right before he went out for the race. I went over and shook his hand and asked him how the foot was and at that point, he really didn't care how the foot was. He was going racing whether the foot was there or not," said Steve Zacharias, the General Manager of Myrtle Beach Speedway.

"He was an avid race car driver and he loved racing. If Jackie wasn't in the car, he'd be in the Grand Stands here watching everyone do it," he said.

"You get numb. You just can't believe it," said Keith Ferrell, a fellow racer.

Ferrell raced against Ward for about two decades. He said Ward's passion for racing was as noticeable as his positive demeanor on the track.

"I don't think I've ever seen Jackie in a bad mood," he said. "No matter how good or bad he was running, Jackie always had this really bright smile,"

Ward, the owner of Strand Towing in Myrtle Beach modeled his cars after racing royalty.

"Whether it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. tribute-type car was Dale Earnhardt Sr. tribute-type car, he knew what people liked," said Ferrell.

Ferrell teaches at Palm Charter High School. It's part of his job to fix broken race cars. He said Ward's death hits close to home.

"That is one devoted guy... I don't think there's a lot of people out there that you can compare him to. Jackie's gonna be missed," he said.

The next two weeks are some of the busiest of the year for the track. Racing competitions continued Sunday, but many still said they won't soon forget Ward's impact.

Zacharias said he hopes to soon honor Ward at the track.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Goldfinch Funeral Home's Beach Chapel.

The visitation is happening on Monday, Nov. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. also at the Goldfinch Funeral Home's Beach Chapel.

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