Former NASCAR Driver John Wes Townley Killed in Shooting

John Wes Townley

Getty John Wes Townley was killed October 2, 2021, in a double shooting.

Former NASCAR driver John West Townley was killed on Saturday, October 2, 2021, in a double shooting in the Athens Five Points area in Georgia. He was 31 years old.

Athens-Clarke County Police Department spokesperson Lieutenant Shaun Barnett told the Athens Banner-Herald that officers responded to a shooting in the 200 block of Morton Avenue in the Five Points neighborhood just before 9 p.m. on Saturday. Townley and a 30-year-old female were both shot and transported to the hospital. Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson confirmed that Townley died at the hospital from his injuries.

Police initially said the suspected shooter was a 32-year-old Dunwoody man known to Townley and that the investigation was ongoing but “appears related to domestic violence,” the Athens Banner-Herald reported. On October 4, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department named the shooter as Zachary Anderson and indicated that “there was an altercation between Mr. Townley and Mr. Anderson involving a hatchet” before Anderson shot Townley and Laura Townley, 30, who was at the home with Anderson.

Townley Made 110 Combined Starts Across 2 NASCAR Series

The son of Zaxby’s co-founder Tony Townley, the former NASCAR driver spent eight years in NASCAR, split between the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. Townley made his national debut in 2008 with seven starts in the Truck Series for Roush Racing and three in the Xfinity Series for RAB Racing.

Townley made 76 Xfinity Series starts over the course of his NASCAR career, posting three 13th-place finishes. He contended for a top-10 at Talladega Superspeedway in the 2014 Aaron’s 312 on May 3, 2014. He posted his other two 13th-place finishes at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015, and Chicagoland Speedway on September 19, 2015.

Townley’s best race took place during his second full-time season in the Truck Series. He climbed into the No. 05 Athenian Motorsports Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and turned in the best performance of his career. He started second overall and led 23 laps en route to his only career win.

Along with his time in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series, Townley also competed in the ARCA Menards Series. Per Racing Reference, he made 58 starts and won two races. He captured the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway in 2013 while running a five-race schedule for Venturini Motorsports. He then won again at Daytona in 2016 while driving for Athenian Motorsports.

Townley Retired From NASCAR at the Age of 27

Following an injury-shortened 2016 season, Townley made a surprising announcement. According to Fox Sports, he revealed that he would end his racing career at the age of 27 and focus on college courses, as well as his impending marriage to Laura Bird.

Athenian Motorsports, the team owned by Townley’s father, responded by making the decision to shut down. The organization began the process of selling equipment, confirming that it would not be part of the 2017 season.

Athenian Motorsports sold off its equipment but held onto the team facilities until years later. The Charlotte Business Journal reported in January 2020 that the company sold its 41,069-square-foot industrial building in Concord, N.C. BND Holdings Inc. purchased the property for $3.3 million and leased it to ABC Supply Co. Inc., a Wisconsin-based roofing supply company.

Athenian originally purchased the industrial complex in 2014 for the price of $3.25 million from race-car drivers Boris Said and Dale Earnhardt Jr., continuing the trend of using the site as a race shop. Richard Petty Motorsports previously used the complex as its shop.

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