Michael Mastalez had one dream. To work behind the scenes of NASCAR. The 21-year old moved from Texas to South Carolina in hopes of one day fulfilling that dream, but his life was taken before he had the chance.
On April 4, Mastalez was killed when the sightseeing helicopter he was riding in near Great Smoky Mountain National Park crashed. The accident came just a few days after he met his hero, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski. The meeting was more than that of a fan seeking an autograph or a quick chat with his hero. In fact, the meeting would last a few hours and would make an indelible mark of Keselowski.
Following Mastalez's death, the NASCAR driver took to Twitter to share the story of their meeting and how the young man's tragic death shook him to the core.
"It's an old fable in Hollywood, that your waiter or waitress is probably an aspiring actor/actress. I'm not sure if that's true there...I can tell you It's definitely true that in Mooresville, Nc your waiter or waitress is probably an aspiring racer.
I had the pleasure of being served by Michael at a local restaurant in Mooresville this past Wednesday before he died so tragically. The dinner started as a quiet meeting with an associate and a job interviewee in a back room of the restaurant where he worked. Michael's slender build comedically complimented his nervous body language & he had something to say but I gave him no such opportunity.
'Michael, were going to have some fun, I want you to mess up everything we order on the menu tonight to see how this interview reacts.' I told this to him and his nervous smile turned into a grin and he answered, 'Ssure, BTW I'm a big 2 fan...' I smiled, so did the night.
A few hours, a few beers and a lot of conversation later, the night came to an end and the interviewee barely said a word about his food. Michael and I could barely contain our laughter that night as he brought the check, asked how the food was and waited for the answer. 'Just fine,' the interviewee said nervously as our faces turned red from starring at him. I thanked Michael for being such a good help. At that moment Michaels body language was to leave but his heart said to stay and chat like we were old friends and so we spoke at length.
Michael had moved from Texas a college kid eager to follow a dream of motorsports and finance. Tonight was his night to share his dream.
He passed in the hours to come, I guess not everyone gets to live their dream...May this we never forget. Godspeed @MichaelMastalez"
In a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer, Keselowski said that he's learned a valuable lesson from Mastalez's death.
“All my life I was raised to believe that if you work hard enough, do things the right way and treat people the right way, good things will happen to me,” Keselowski said. “I have control of my life and my own success. I’ve used that approach to live that way in everything I do. Michael’s death is a sign it’s not that simple. I will not change my core beliefs, but I will be more appreciative of the things I have and recognize that sometimes it’s not all in my control.”
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