Mourners gather to remember Kevin Ward Jr.

BOONVILLE, N.Y. — One after another, the mourners arrived Wednesday, many wearing the same outfit: A black and orange T-shirt with Kevin Ward Jr.'s name splashed on the back over an illustration of his sprint car.

Some mourners wore an orange and white ribbon with a picture of a No. 13 wearing a halo and wings.

Stone-faced, they walked up a leafy, quiet street and entered Victorian-style Trainor Funeral Home to begin the process of saying goodbye during the visitation for Ward on Wednesday.

Pace cars from nearby racetracks – Utica Rome Speedway, Can-Am Speedway and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park among them – were parked outside the funeral home as well-wishers from all over New York's racing community came to pay their respects.

And some from the NASCAR world made sure the Ward family knew it was in their thoughts, too.

Among those who sent flowers: Dale Earnhardt Jr., who lost his father in a racing accident in the 2001 Daytona 500, and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Many emerged from the funeral home in tears, still grappling with the loss of a 20-year-old racer whose death Saturday night at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park has left the community with an open wound.

They hurried past media gathered, including TV cameras and satellite trucks without comment.

The native of nearby Port Leyden was killed after he got out of his car following a racing incident with Tony Stewart. When Ward approached Stewart's car to confront the NASCAR star during a caution period, he was struck by the right rear tire, run over and killed.

Ward's friends and family plan to remember him not for the incident, but as a happy-go-lucky kid who always had a smile on his face. He was known around town to be respectful and polite.

Ward's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at South Lewis High School, where he graduated two years ago.? USA Today

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