William “Rowdy” Harrell, a tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 team, and his wife, Blakley, were killed in a highway crash Tuesday night in the Florida Keys.
Hendrick Motorsports confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon. Harrell was 30 and his wife, 23. The two were married last Saturday in his home state of Alabama, and the team indicated that the couple was on their honeymoon.
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” said No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives, in a statement provided by the team. “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.”
According to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, Harrell was driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla that collided with a Ford pick-up truck on U.S. Highway 1 on Lower Matecumbe Key. The truck’s driver was treated for minor injuries, but two passengers were seriously hurt.
Harrell was a pit-crew mainstay for Hendrick Motorsports the last eight seasons, most recently on the No. 88 Chevrolet team in the NASCAR Cup Series for driver Alex Bowman. He was also involved in two championship seasons for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.
Before his transition to NASCAR, Harrell was a three-time national champion as part of the University of Alabama’s football team, which he joined as a walk-on linebacker.
Hendrick Motorsports indicated that memorial arrangements had not been made as of Wednesday afternoon.
Rowdy was everything that made the 88 team, the 88 team. The biggest personality and the best person. He was the happiest person you’d ever meet, and that was only reenforced by his wife Blakley. Rip to an absolute legend. You’ll be missed every single day brother. pic.twitter.com/ouvflY1M7h
— Alex Bowman (@AlexBowman88) November 25, 2020
It has been a tough morning talking with teammates. The news hit us hard.
We are thinking of the families affected by this tragedy and wanted their consent before releasing a statement. https://t.co/arDUxT4S8E
— Greg Ives (@Ives_Greg) November 25, 2020
Got a really terrible phone call from Greg this morning. Rowdy was one of the most happy, kindest souls I’d ever met and one of the greatest on pit road. I feel so terrible for his and Blakley’s families, and this team won’t be the same without them. pic.twitter.com/Ez97eMKTab
— Kevin Hamlin (@KevinHamlin) November 25, 2020
This is such sad news. Worked with Rowdy at JRM and he was such a talented and hard worker. Praying for his family. https://t.co/9XxbePCRKL
— William Byron (@WilliamByron) November 25, 2020