Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that they have learned that team member William “Rowdy” Harrell and his wife, Blakley, were killed in an automobile accident in Florida Tuesday night. The newlyweds were traveling to celebrate their honeymoon after being married on Saturday.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol the crash happened around 9:40 p.m. Tuesday night at mile marker 76 on U.S. 1 on Lower Matecumbe Key in the Florida Keys. Harrell was driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla north on the two-lane highway when he crossed into the southbound lane and into the path of a 2013 Ford F-250 pickup truck driven by a 62-year-old man from Tennessee.
The pickup truck driver unsuccessfully tried to avoid hitting the Corolla by driving onto the shoulder of the road, but the left front of the Toyota hit the front of the Ford. Harrell, 30, and his new wife, 23, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Harrell was a tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports for the last eight seasons, most recently with the No. 88 NASCAR Cup Series team of driver Alex Bowman. He was also a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion pit crew member with JR Motorsports.
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” said Greg Ives, who was Harrell’s crew chief for the past six seasons. “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.”
Before his NASCAR career, Harrell won three national championships as a walk-on middle linebacker for the University of Alabama football team. The native of Moundville, Alabama, held a degree in human performance and exercise science from the school.
The team said memorial arrangements have not been made at this time.
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