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Fast friends: Sprint car drivers bond after simple apology

Updated: Thursday, August 1 2013, 01:19 AM CDT

Posted by: Jason Bristol

HARRISBURG -- Two local sprint car drivers have become fast friends after one simply apologized for being involved in a wreck with the other. Its a friendship that means even more a year later, as one of the two is recovering from another crash.

Steve Wilbur of Mechanicsburg is glad he accepted that apology.

"You know, you get over that stuff pretty quick for the most part," said Wilbur, with a laugh. "Life's too short to hold a grudge like that."

Wilbur can laugh now, but last May he was fuming at Williams Grove -- after his car was involved in a serious wreck. He immediately blamed the car in front of him. Wilbur was later diagnosed with bleeding on his brain and he still has a nasty scar on his leg from the crash.

What happened next didn't erase all of Steve's pain; but it made him feel a lot better.

It was something that almost never happens in the macho world of sprint car racing.

Walking into Wilbur's garage the next day unannounced was that other driver. "I think it was pretty cool of him to do that," recalls Wilbur.

It was Ryan Slothower.

He was there to say he was sorry.

"I didn't want him mad at me," said Slothower, who traveled roughly 35 minutes with his wife from his home in Wellsville to see Wilbur that day. "I have to race with him the rest of the season, you know."

Forget racing. More than a year later, Slothower can barely walk after he recently was injured in a serious crash on July 13 at Lincoln Speedway.

Slothower can't do his plumbing and heating work, either, for another 3-6 months due to all the tiny, painful fractures up and down his spine. "(It's) not good," he said. "Don't have no income. I'm a sole proprietor."

After a long pause, Slothower later said he couldn't believe how much someone was helping him. His buddy, Steve.

Yes, Slothower and Steve Wilbur became fast friends after that apology and Wilbur has even opened a recovery fund for Slothower. Donations are being accepted at any branch of Members 1st Federal Credit Union, according to Wilbur and Slothower's wife, Natalie.

"I guess pay it forward," said Wilbur. "It's that deal."

And it's a great story of how these guys met.

Just don't ask them who's fault it was at Williams Grove -- they may not be friends any longer.

"Ahhh, it was probably Steve's (fault)," said Slothower.

"He can say what we wants," joked Wilbur.

"But it was his fault."


Video used in this report is courtesy of and Lynn Schaeffer Productions.

Fast friends: Sprint car drivers bond after simple apology

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