Milton, Florida’s Southern Raceway was the scene of an on-track altercation followed by further action in the pit area. The pit area altercations led to three arrests and felony charges for Gary Winger, father of Ashton Winger.
Ashton Winger and GR Smith were involved in a disagreement on the race track. While under caution, Smith drove into Winger’s car three times, two of which resulted in a pin. Winger was running in the second position at the time.
According to the arrest report, Smith went into the pits after the on-track retaliation and entered his trailer to change clothes. Gary Winger allegedly entered the trailer and hit Smith in the head three times with a ball-peen hammer. Witnesses stepped in and broke up the altercation.
Per the arrest report, Smith said that Ashton Winger drove for him in the past, but Winger was fired about one year ago for fighting with other drivers.
Gary Winger was charged with aggravated battery and burglary. Ashton Winger was also arrested after a second scuffle with Scott Parker, a member of GR Smith’s team. Parker was also arrested.
The Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series sanctioned the race, and issued the following penalties:
Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series: Penalty Notice
Following this weekend’s altercations at Southern Raceway the following penalties are being implemented on the parties involved:
“Ashton Winger will be suspended for 60 days with zero tolerance probation due to a crew member using a weapon in a physical altercation with G.R. Smith. Drivers are responsible for their crew, this is what lead to this decision.”
“G.R. Smith will be suspended indefinitely for his actions on track. The driver struck the 12 machine repeatedly under caution. He failed to comply with our race director who repeatedly told him to leave the track. He was disqualified from the event. Requirements for reinstatement will be discussed with G.R. privately and once the requirements and stipulations are met the suspension will be lifted.
“Both parties are remorseful for everything that occurred Saturday. We hope to see them competing with the Southern All Stars again in the near future.”
“The Southern All Stars apologize to the fans and Southern Raceway for the altercations that ensued on Saturday and hate to see this happen in our sport. This kind of stuff is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at any SAS events.”
“Following G.R. Smith’s unacceptable behavior on track, track personnel and security were called to his pit area to be sure that a safe place was provided for the competitor to be able to load his equipment and leave the premises. Unfortunately the altercation occurred before the Santa Rosa County officers could get to the site in time.”
The following rule change was also issued:
“Going forward the Complete Double File restart will remain. A cone will be set out at the starting line, competitors MUST STAY in line through the cone to the start and finish line. Leader will have lane choice and must fire first. An official will be in turn 4 to help monitor each start.”
“If a competitor is caught jumping first time they will go back a row the second offense they will be sent to the rear of the field (pending cars a lap down). Third offense the driver will be sent to the pits.”
“Also going forward: Drivers, crew members, or parties affiliated with race teams that choose to verbally abuse, threaten, or physically go after a race official can result in disqualification from the event with further penalties up to the discretion of the officials.”
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