After a long battle with head and neck cancer, NASCAR announcer Steve Byrnes died Tuesday at age 56, ESPN reported. A reporter and TV host with NASCAR for more than 30 years, Byrnes documented his battle with cancer on social media, and the hashtag #ByrnesStrong grew over time as a way for Byrnes' viewers to show their support while he fought the disease. On Tuesday, after his family released a statement about his death, remembrances from all over the stock car racing world began streaming in, with drivers, fans, and announcers offering condolences to Byrnes' wife, Karen, and 12-year-old son, Bryson. NASCAR chairman Brian France said in a statement that the sport would miss Byrnes dearly:
His level of professionalism was matched only by the warmth he showed everyone he met. He battled cancer with tenacity, and was a true inspiration to everyone in the NASCAR family.
Byrnes was well-liked and respected by almost all NASCAR drivers, even the late Dale Earnhardt, who could be a little challenging to get to know. In a tribute video on Fox Sports Tuesday, NASCAR announcer Ken Squier said Byrnes "could never learn to do it wrong," since he was a perfectionist who always wanted another take to get every shot just right.
Drivers and fans took to social media to offer their thoughts to Byrnes' family. The #ByrnesStrong hashtag had thousands of tweets by Tuesday evening, with many remembering Byrnes' final tweet: "I went the distance."
According to USA Today, Byrnes' death came two days after a race that was named in his honor: The "Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes." In a touching show of support, crew from every racing team stood on the pit wall with signs reading "I Stand Up For Steve."