CHEROKEE CO., S.C. (WSPA) – A house fire over the weekend took the life of a well-known racecar driver.
The fire happened near the intersection of Brown Arrow Circle and Highway 11 in Inman Sunday morning.
7 News spoke with those who knew the local legend best.
Lifetime racing fanatic Hunter Weaver said Cherokee Speedway will never be the same after local racer Jamie Mattison lost his life in the fire.
“He was an icon. It would compare to when NASCAR lost Dale Earnhardt. He was our dale Earnhardt, basically,” Weaver said. “We’ve lost our leader. How do we go forward from here?”
Weaver told 7 News Mattison was a familiar face at the racetrack for as long as he can remember.
“I looked at him as one of my idols growing up,” he said. “He was your local hero that everybody came out to cheer on.”
In fact, Mattison’s friends said he was at Cherokee Speedway Saturday night, just hours before the fire.
“He wasn’t racing but he was there, helping a younger driver who was learning about driving a V-8 Camaro,” fellow racer Tony Adair said.
Tony Adair told 7 News Mattison won so many races, he was in the Cherokee Speedway Hall of Fame.
“Anything he got in and drove, he could win in it,” Adair said. “It’s not the type of talent that you see every time somebody sits down in a race car. He was just that type of person who had that talent that could get the job done.”
Those who knew him best said he was friends with everyone and was always happy to lend a helping hand–even to his competition.
“Even though he won a lot, he never lost an ounce of popularity, just because of who he was off the racetrack,” Weaver said.
“Jamie was down to earth,” Adair added. “He was humble. He was not above everybody else.”
Weaver said Mattison’s death will definitely leave a void in the local racing community, but he said the local legend will never be forgotten.
“He’s going to be dearly missed around the racetracks and around this area, especially. This was his hallowed ground,” Weaver said.
Weaver told 7 News there will likely be a memorial race for Mattison in the near future.
The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the cause of the fire.