A stock car race on a track on Prince Edward Island ended in tragedy Saturday night.
Mike Stevens, 30, from Riverview, N.B. died after his car flipped onto its roof at the Oyster Bed Speedway race track on lap 98 of 100. The race was part of the Maritime ProStock Tour.
Stevens survived the crash.
Ken Cunning, general manager of the tour, said the driver appeared to be okay shortly afterward and was talking to emergency crews.
Sgt. Leanne Butler, with the Cavendish RCMP, said something happened after Stevens released himself from his safety equipment in the car while he was still hanging upside down.
"There's a number of safety equipment that the drivers do wear, they wear what's called a HANS collar [Head and Neck Support device] and a helmet of course, and that protects them against severe whiplash when they're in a crash. So this driver had been wearing his equipment but after the crash, removed it," said Butler.
She said removing the safety equipment played a role in Steven's death.
Butler said there is no criminal investigation happening at this time. Police said the race was being run under reasonable safety protocols.
"Stevens is a multi-time series winner with three trips to victory lane in the past three seasons, along with 23 top 10s over his eight years on the PST-circuit. He was 30 years old and is survived by his wife Sharon and two small children," Tara Foster, spokesperson with ProStock Tour, said in a news release.
Cunning said the racing community is close knit and devastated by the loss.
According to ProStock Tour's website, the next scheduled race on the tour is the Atlantic CAT 250 next Saturday located at Scotia Speedway outside of Halifax.
Memorial weekend marred by tragedy
This was already an emotional weekend for drivers and fans at Stevens' home track in New Brunswick, the Petty International Raceway.
Saturday and Sunday night's races are dedicated to the memory of longtime racer and New Brunswick stock car racing legend Caleb Dunn who died last year at the age of 84.
"We want to extend our deepest condolences to Mike's family, team, friends, and fans," said co-owners of Petty International Raceway on their website. "He was a great racer and a great help to us when we purchased and rebuilt Petty a couple of years ago. He will be missed on and off the track."
Craig McFetridge, one of the New Brunswick track's co-owners said during the Petty's rebuild, Stevens lent his electrician skills to help in the reconstruction, free of charge, because he simply loved the sport.
He said Stevens' brother and father were part of his pit crew. McFetridge said Stevens' wife and two young sons would go on the road with him to each race.
There will be a moment of silence at the track before tonight’s race to honour Stevens.