Tuesday, April 21, 2015

COMMENTARY: Remembering Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes lost his long battle with cancer today at the age of 56.

The end came more quickly than any of us had hoped, and certainly more quickly than we were prepared for. Steve was able to watch Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway – an event named in his honor – but took a turn for the worse late yesterday and passed away today with Karen -- his loving wife of 22 years -- and his 12-year old son Bryson at his bedside.

Steve was a frequent guest on our Sirius XM Speedway show for many years, and was gracious enough to co-host the program along with me during Speedweeks 2015 at Daytona. Illness prevented him from traveling to Daytona Beach for the first time in decades, and he was feeling badly about that. We felt bad, as well, and thought we might all feel better by making Steve a part of our program, if only for a day.

Four hours can be a long pull -- even for a healthy host – and by the end of the program, Steve admitted that his backside was beginning to drag.

“I’m sorry, brother,” he said during a late commercial break. “I’m not a lot of help right now.”

I assured him that his mere presence was making the show better, whether he had anything to say or not.

In addition to being a top-notch guest, Steve was a good friend. He was the kind of person you put on your short-list; the list of people you knew could count on to brighten every day and never let you down.

There are no words to explain what Steve’s family and many friends are experiencing today. None of us were ready for this. We knew that his cancer was both aggressive and deadly. We knew his treatment protocol was not working as well as he and his doctors had hoped. We knew that he had suffered some serious setbacks in the last couple of weeks; blood clots and a bout with pneumonia that made his future anything but certain.

But we also knew that Steve Byrnes was a fighter. We knew of the amazing support system he had in place -- led by Karen and Bryson, who have been absolute rocks throughout this ordeal -- and hoped against hope that our friend would somehow beat the odds and prevail. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Steve Byrnes was tough, but cancer was tougher.

Back on January 14th of this year, Steve joined us on Sirius XM Speedway to update his condition. We hadn’t heard much from him in the weeks following the news that his cancer had returned, but he spoke eloquently about the important lessons learned from his battle with cancer.

Most of those lessons involved family and friends, the importance of holding loved ones close and treasuring every day we are granted on the planet. Those lessons seem all the more poignant today, now that he’s gone.

Steve’s final public words came Sunday night, when he responded to a fan asking via Twitter if he had watched the rain-delayed Bristol race, in its entirety. His response consisted of only four words, but those four words said all that needed to be said.

 “I went the distance,” he wrote.

Yes you did, brother, and you made us all proud. Safe travels, and Godspeed.


  1. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend Dave. As a viewer and listener you just knew he was the real deal. I did not know or meet Steve, but yet my heart hurts for everyone's loss.

  2. Anonymous6:41 PM

    Good man who fought hard each and every day. RIP Steve.

  3. Wayne6:53 PM

    He Always went the distance. Bless him and his family.

  4. We all lost a friend today, whether we knew Steve personally or not. Only got to listen to a portion a today's show, what I did hear was an outstanding tribute. Thank you Steve, and thank you Dave.

  5. It takes a special person to have complete strangers shed a tear at his passing and have heavy hearts thinking of the loss for his family.

  6. It's hard to respond to this through tears for a man I never met but feel like he was family. The NASCAR family lost a truly unique and genuine man today and even for Word Man words fall short of describing him as a person. Keep your head up Dave and, always GO THE DISTANCE.

  7. Well said Dave.

  8. It's a genuinely sad day for the racing community. Steve's passion for the sport - and life - shone through in every interaction. He will be missed.

  9. Awesome words Dave.

  10. Anonymous3:19 AM

    Thank you for sharing...he will be missed.

  11. Anonymous3:28 AM

    We've invited him into our homes for decades, and now the voice is silent. ISteve will be sadly missed here. wish I could have been asked to stand in for him so he could live on, but we never get the chance to change the direction cancer takes. It was very hard listening today. I've never heard as much emotion in your voice. I had to turn the radio off. I hope somewhere down the road, his friends find peace and meaning in his passing. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and young son.

    I hope he and Senior catch up on things.


  12. Steve went the distance in everything he did. Prayers for steve and his family. Big hugs to you too Moody!!!!!

  13. Anonymous9:22 AM

    I think the heavens opened up on Sunday for a reason. I thought it was great that the longest race of the year was Steve's race. Even better, he went the distance. His last Sunday on this planet was His day- all day.

    Sorry for your loss Moody. Sorry for the family's loss.

  14. Anonymous3:24 PM

    We just lost a good friend on 03/23/2015 that was part of our Bristol crew this weekend we all cried a lot and hugged a lot and thought it was so neat what BMS, Jerry and his staff did to show Steve what he means to the NASCAR community. I'm sad that Steve is gone but I know my buddy Tim Neukem has a new friend to talk NASCAR with.

  15. Mike S.10:51 PM

    Dave, maybe you could suggest to the powers-that-be to produce a sticker with the initials "SB" and a picture of a microphone, to be placed on the driver side door next to the driver's name on all cars for the rest of the year, as a remembrance.

  16. Anonymous8:22 AM

    The driver's could help Bryson and his Mom by donating their winnings at Richmond to a trust fund for them..I know they have that compassion in them