Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Stand Up for Steve

This is certainly something I never thought I would have to write.  Sitting here now, writing this, I can’t stop the tears from falling or my heart from aching. 

I’m going to tell you how I met Steve because it’s truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  It was July 4, 2011 and I had started my blog about a year earlier, but still wasn’t sure if I would continue, not thinking it was very good.  I remember checking my e-mail at 9:30 at night and saw an e-mail from Steve with the subject line, “Blog”.  Quickly, I opened it and it said,

            I enjoyed looking at your blog.  I admire your ambition and desire!
            Steve Byrnes

Sixteen-year-old me couldn’t control my excitement and ran downstairs to tell my mom, now knowing I would continue this blog.  One thing led to another and mid-August, I was at the [then] SPEED Studio watching a taping of RaceHub.  Once the taping was over, Steve and I went back to his office and I asked him questions about reporting, interviews, and what seemed like everything under the sun.  Just when I was about to leave, Steve looked at me and said, “Keep writing from the heart.  People will notice that and be able to identify with you.”  Those two sentences will forever remain engrained in my brain.  

Fast forward a year and I was back at the SPEED Studio playing intern for the day.  Steve and I watched the Summer Olympics (I distinctly remember, it was volleyball), I went to the production meeting, I helped find out information for a segment, he taught me how to do a voice over, and I played fashion consultant – picking out quite the nice outfit for him for that night’s episode of RaceHub. 

A year ago almost to the day, I had the privilege of visiting Steve when he started hosting RaceHub again.  I’m not a person who likes hugging, but once I saw Steve after his brave battle, I nearly ran to hug him. 

So, Steve, although I may not get to sit at the RaceHub desk with you, I will always have the memory of four years ago when I did.  I’m not entirely sure what you saw in me at sixteen, but I promise you, I intend on doing everything in my power to make you proud.  I’ll have some big shoes to fill – literally and metaphorically – but I’m up for the challenge.  Your smile is unforgettable, your courage is inspiring, and your humor is extremely contagious.  I will always cherish the times I spent with you.  You were so much more than a mentor to me; you were part of my family.  

“It’s been a long day without you, my friend, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”  I look forward to the day when I get to see you again, sir.  Love you.   


  1. Ashley - I have watched and loved every step of your process and those "two sentences" are some of the best advice I would also offer - “Keep writing from the heart. People will notice that and be able to identify with you.”! At 40 something, I identified with you, your heart and soul and enjoyed your writing progression over the years. I am so proud and honored to call you friend and my heart hurts for your and our NASCAR family loss of a great guy! Ashely you inspire and keep me in awe - GO GET GIRL!!

    1. Thank you! I'll do my best to make everyone proud!