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Fatal fall victim was retired judge
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Fatal fall victim was retired judge
Racing crewmember, 59, died at Southern National

Sheriff’s deputies have identified the man who died after a Friday fall at Southern National Motorsports Park as a retired North Carolina judge.

Michael Allan Sabiston, 59, fell from a trailer while trying to unload a racecar and died, according to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Sabiston retired last September as chief district court judge for Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties.

Sabiston, of 143 Twilight Court in the town of Troy, was a crewmember for Pro All-Stars Series driver Brandon Ward. The race team’s No. 62 car was set to compete in Saturday’s PASS Super Late Model 150 at the NASCAR-affiliated track near Lucama.

"He was on the top lift with the car and evidently lost his footing,” said Dale Moore, general manager for Southern National Motorsports Park. "He fell straight to the asphalt.”

Wilson County Emergency Medical Services paramedics pronounced Sabiston dead at the scene. Sheriff’s office cars lined the apron of the track around 4:30 p.m. as deputies investigated the fall.

Former Gov. Jim Martin appointed Sabiston to the bench in 1992, and voters elected Sabiston to five straight district court terms. He was appointed chief judge in 2009, according to newspaper stories and legal websites.

Sabiston told the Courier Tribune newspaper of Asheboro that auto racing was a lifelong passion he planned to pursue after his retirement. He said he was willing to serve as an emergency judge and wanted to work as a mediator.

"The owners, staff and all racing teams at Southern National Motorsports Park would like to send our prayers and our deepest sympathy to his family,” Moore said in a Friday statement. "Friday practice has been canceled, and we will be paying tribute to him and his team at tomorrow night’s race.”

A July 2012 story in the Asheboro newspaper lists Sabiston as a sponsor of Brandon Ward Racing.

Ward, 32, of Winston-Salem, is listed as a witness to Sabiston’s death in the sheriff’s office report. He couldn’t be reached for comment in time for this story.

Ward has raced in a NASCAR-sanctioned short-track series and has two PASS wins this season, taking his most-recent checkered flag July 5 at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina.

He is ranked fifth of 73 drivers in the PASS South Super Late Model Touring Series and formerly led the point standings. Ward finished fourth in points during the 2012 season.

Ward ran in four NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races in 2012, scoring one win and three top-five finishes. He’s also competed in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series and Goody’s Dash Series, according to the Brandon Ward Racing website.

Southern National Motorsports Park is a four-tenths-mile asphalt oval located on Newsome Mill Road west of Lucama. Owners Michael Diaz and Jerry Brown reopened the track in February 2012.

The racetrack is a part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, a network of nearly 60 North American short tracks. | 265-7821
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Mike's sister said...

I would love to know that ambulances are always on hand when anyone is racing, period. In this case, however, it would not have helped. We do hope that some hauler design changes will happen so this never happens again. Rest assured that a group of specialists is already being formed to evaluate the situation. God Bless.

Thursday, August 08, 2013 at 3:02 PM
ConcernedFan said...

I agree with you that perhaps there was nothing that could have been done but they should have been there as a precaution any time there are practices as things do happen look at any racing series.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 at 1:22 PM
info said...

The blame game and how do you know he would survive. I forgot your god.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 at 11:33 AM
ConcernedFan said...

I know Wilson Rescue or EMS wasn't there like they used to be on practice days. If they had been there could there have been a likely hood for survival? Why did SNMP cut Rescue/EMS from their practices?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 at 9:48 AM
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