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Hendrick Motorsports pit crew member, wife killed in crash on honeymoon

William Rowdy Harrell

William Rowdy Harrell. Photo: Hendrick Motorsports

William “Rowdy” Harrell, a pit crew member at Hendrick Motorsports, and his wife were killed in a car crash Tuesday night in the Florida Keys on their honeymoon.

Harrell was 30. He was a tire carrier for Alex Bowman’s pit crew. His wife, Blakley, was 23. They married Saturday.

Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement Wednesday:

“Today, Hendrick Motorsports learned that team member William ‘Rowdy’ Harrell and his wife, Blakley, were tragically killed in an automobile accident in Florida last night. The newlyweds were traveling to celebrate their honeymoon after being married on Saturday.

“Harrell, 30, was a stand-out 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.’ ”

A preliminary report from the Florida Highway Patrol report stated that William Harrell was driving north on U.S. 1, a two-lane highway. The report stated that the Toyota Corolla that Harrell was driving went across the center line and into the southbound lane at about 9:40 p.m. ET. A pickup truck attempted to avoid Harrell’s car by going on to the shoulder, but the vehicles collided. Harrell and his wife were both wearing seatbelts, according to the report.

The 62-year-old male driver of the pickup truck was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries. The truck’s two passengers, a 58-year-old female and a 62-year-old female, were airlifted in critical condition.

Harrell, a walk-on linebacker, won three national championships as a member of the Alabama football team. He played football at Hale County High School in Moundville, Alabama. The school previously honored him by naming the road that leads to the football stadium as Rowdy Harrell Way.

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

Hendrick Motorrsports hired Harrell in September 2013.

In a Facebook post, Jacob Conley, fueler for the No. 88 team, wrote: “Life is such a fragile thing and it can change in an instant. You never know when you’ve given someone the last hug or sent them the last text or cracked your last beer with them. The hauler will be a little quieter on race day and the van rides too but the light Rowdy shined on so many people will not burn out anytime soon. I know him and sweet Blakley Harrell will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll miss our late night chats in the hotel rooms on the road talking about nonsense and I’ll crack a busch light for you buddy.”