The 29-year-old Orwell Cove native is apologizing for how he handled being spun out and into the concrete wall Monday during mini outlaw division racing at Oyster Bed Speedway.
“I got out my car and I threw my helmet at him and said a few curse words in front of the crowd and some kids,” he told The Guardian on Thursday.
The crash occurred during the class’s first race on the traditional Labour Day Monday card.
Byrne, who competes for the Long Dirt Road (LDR) Racing team, said he thought he had a pretty fast car on Monday and was going to try to get to the front of the pack. The problem started when he went to pass.
“I made the mistake of following him in a little too hot into the corner and I came onto the brakes, made myself loose and accidentally got into him,” he explained.
The next lap Byrne said he went to the bottom of the track to try to get past the same driver but was spun out when he attempted to get by him. After hitting the wall, Byrne got out of his car and waited for the other driver to come back around the ¼-mile track.
Drivers slowed as they approached Byrne, who then threw his helmet at the windshield of the vehicle he had collided with. While the two exchanged words, no punches were thrown.
“My behaviour was unsportsmanlike and unacceptable regardless of any incident that happened beforehand,” Byrne said. “I was caught up in the moment and reacted poorly.
“For the officials, sponsors, other drivers, family and children present, you make this sport worth every ounce of effort, and I want to apologize to you specifically.
“I aim to learn from this experience and move forward.”
Byrne said he has saw video footage of the event and was embarrased.
“That’s not who I am in that video," he said.
Track announcer and speedway spokesman Jeremy MacDonald said its judges deemed both drivers were at fault for a bit of over-aggressive driving.
“Track officials did give both drivers, after that incident, a black flag and parked them for the night,” he said.
It meant both drivers missed Monday’s two races, including the feature where big points are awarded. They are also both on probation.
“Missing a full night of racing is big,” MacDonald said. “We always like to give drivers a chance to redeem themselves.”
For safety reasons, drivers are not permitted to leave their vehicles.
“That’s a huge no-no for a number of reasons,” he said.
“When you take yourself out of that vehicle, you take yourself out of that safety of the vehicle,” he added, referring to the roll cage and other safety features.
Byrne said he has voluntarily decided not to race at Oyster Bed for the rest of the season. He plans on returning in 2018.
Byrne does race in the East Coast Mini Stock Tour and will race Saturday in Petitcodiac, N.B. The tour has put Byrne on probation for his actions on Monday.
MacDonald said incidents are going to happen from time to time as decisions are made quickly on a racetrack.
“If you haven’t gotten a black flag before, you just haven’t been driving long enough,” he said. “From time to time that line is crossed.”
Byrne said his team feels it is famous for all the wrong reasons and it looks to change that each time it gets back on the track.