On August 19, 2017, professional stock car racing driver Shane Sieg tragically passed away only four days before his 35th birthday. Sieg raced in 68 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races over the course of seven years, during which time he earned three top-10 finishes. The Tucker, Georgia native's cause of death was never officially released, though given his suspension from NASCAR in 2011 for violating its substance abuse policy, many suspected that it was drug related.
Shortly after the former NASCAR driver's passing, Shane's younger brother and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Sieg broke the news with a short and heartbreaking statement via Twitter. The news garnered somber reactions from such notable NASCAR Cup Series racers as Brad Keselowski.
Two weeks after Shane's death, Ryan officially announced that his No. 39 Chevrolet's paint scheme for the 2017 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway would be based on a scheme that Shane Sieg used on a late model in 2003.
"This is the ultimate tribute for my family," Ryan Sieg said in a press release at the time. "My brother had a love for racing and I'm honored to carry this scheme at Darlington. For my family and our friends this is a very special tribute. I just want everyone to smile when they see the car on track this weekend."
Of course, it's always sad when someone in the professional racing community dies, but the untimely death of Shane Sieg will go down as a particularly tragic footnote in modern racing history.
Shane Sieg's Disappointingly Short NASCAR Career
Born Rodney Shane Sieg, the late NASCAR driver made his Camping World Truck Series debut in 2003, driving the No. 08 Chevrolet for SS-Green Light Racing at the New Hampshire International Speedway race where he placed 16th. He would go on to compete in 67 more Truck Series races over the course of the next seven years, racing for such teams as Billy Ballew Motorsports and RSS Racing. He racked up three top-10 finishes, placing eighth in the 2004 Copart 200, 10th in the 2007 UNOH 175, and ninth in the 2008 MemphisTravel.com 200.
Having also made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, Sieg attempted a full-time run in that series in 2004. Failing to qualify at Rockingham in the No. 51 Dodge for Rick Ware Racing, he qualified for the next two races at Las Vegas and Darlington. He crashed early in both races, finishing 42nd and 37th, respectively.
Sieg struggled to make a full-time run in the NASCAR Truck Series throughout his career. In 2009, he had hoped to run a full schedule in the No. 15 Chevy for Billy Ballew Motorsports No. 15 entry, but he struggled to find solid sponsorship and only ran in five races for the team. During the second half of the season, Shane ran in seven races alongside his brother Ryan for the family-owned RSS Racing. Shane had full-time hopes again in 2010, but again ran into sponsorship issues and ran in five races to start the season and the three final races.
Shane Sieg's final Truck Series race was the 2011 Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125 at Pocono Raceway. According to ESPN, he was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR in 2011 for "for violating its substance abuse policy and for actions detrimental to the sport." After Jeremy Mayfield, he was the second driver from NASCAR's top three national series to be suspended since the drug testing policy had been adopted in 2009.