It is with great shock and sadness that Motorsports Management International confirms that Matt Hawkins, a young stock car racer from Canton, Georgia, died the morning (Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009) from a tragic accident at his home, according to the Cherokee Sheriff's Office in Canton.
"Matt was a great kid and racing talent," said MMI President Cary Agajanian. "We have extended our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Hawkins family. Matt will be greatly missed on and off track,
According to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, Saturday morning around 5 a.m., Matt Hawkins was handling a .9 millimeter handgun. It went off, one bullet hitting him in the head, killing him. Investigators are labeling this an accident and that it underscores the essential importance of gun safety.
"You've heard it before. Gun safety is very critical and by all accounts he was familiar with the gun. He'd had it for awhile. You know one mistake and the gun went off," said Sgt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.
Matt Hawkins lived in Cherokee County, but his race headquarters was across from the Talking Rock Auction, near Jasper. His door was always open. Fan and former racer Jerry Wood walked right in.
"He stood and talked to me. I told him I'd been around racing since 1970 and he was talking about any time I wanted to come up, he said, we'll find you a wrench. He was a nice guy," said Wood.
Hawkins, by all accounts, was a good and talented young man. He did something that no other race driver has done. He won his first career starts in two different racing series: the ARCA RE/MAX Series and the USAR Pro Cup Series.
"He was friendly. He didn't act like he was somebody. Though he had some trophies around where he'd won go-kart races. He was champion," said former racer Jerry Wood.
There was talk that one day soon Matt Hawkins would be racing on the NASCAR circuit. Now his family and friends are preparing for his funeral.
News Source:www.ARCARacing.com-NBC News