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					                                                    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2001




This year, auto racing lost a legend, Dale Earnhardt. Thirty-two more people died,
          including a grandmother, a soybean farmer and others pictured below.
Each year, an average of 22 drivers, fans and workers never come home from races.




Death track         R AC I N G ’ S H U M A N T O L L
                                                                             at
                                                                            the

    RISKS IN THE STANDS                                          By Liz Chandler                                                  UNFIT DRIVERS
                                                                     Staff Writer

        THE                        When someone dies in auto racing, it’s often called a freak                                  ON THE
                                thing or a fluke – so isolated and rare it can’t happen again.
        FANS                       But deaths aren’t as rare or isolated as the racing world be-
                                                                                                                                TRACK
It’s one of racing’s worst      lieves. An Observer investigation found at least 260 people across                          The ill, the reckless and
                                America died in auto racing since 1990. Patterns are evident;
fears: A fan dies at a track.                                                                                                the young can race at
                                deaths occur an average of 22 times a year.
Since 1990, it’s happened          Among those killed were 29 spectators, including five children.                          America’s tracks, which
 to at least 29 spectators.        An additional 200 drivers and fans suffered traumatic injuries.                         often don’t screen drivers.
                                   In this year alone, a grandmother in a wheelchair was killed in
      PA G E S 4 - 5                                                                                                           PA G E S 1 2 - 1 3
                                the grandstands at an Ohio track; a Florida driver was decapi-
                                tated when he hit a guardrail; and driver Dean Roper died 10
       RACING’S DEAD            months after his son, Tony, was killed in a wreck in Texas.                                       WHAT’S NEXT

       260                         “That is not acceptable,” said Lowe’s     tracks, and, typically, 4 to 6 feet on drag    SOLUTIONS,
                                Motor Speedway President H.A.                strips. Walls and guardrails have failed
     STORIES                    “Humpy” Wheeler, who like other rac-         to keep cars on smaller tracks. Specta-         CHANGES
                                ing leaders guessed the death toll was       tors are allowed into high-risk areas;
      Young and old,            half of what The Observer found. “This       some tracks allow children into garag-
                                                                                                                           How can racing be safer?
                                is something the industry has to deal        es and pits, the least protected areas.
    professionals and           with. We have a moral obligation.”           • Potentially dangerous drivers are            Drivers, safety experts,
                                   The toll also surprised former Indy       allowed to race.
  blue-collar, these are        racing champion Mario Andretti. “We             Except in top divisions, drivers are       racing organizations and
                                know how to make cars go fast,” he           rarely screened for experience or health
    the sport’s losses.         said. “Now maybe we should spend             problems. Since 1990, at least 32 drivers      others offer their ideas.
                                even more time and energy in making          died from heart attacks while racing,
      PA G E S 6 - 9            cars safer.”                                 sometimes hurting other drivers or                  PA G E S 1 4 - 1 5
                                   Stock car racing legend Richard           fans. Children too young for a driver’s
                                Petty, whose grandson died in a racing       license can race at many tracks. Drivers
                                wreck, was surprised by the number,          with revoked licenses or drunk driving
     SAFETY OVERSIGHT           but characterized it as tolerable, given     convictions are allowed to compete.                 TRACK DIAGRAM
                                the 12-year span of the study. “That’s a     • Head and neck injuries killed at least
  WHO’S                         lot of racing,” he said.
                                   No one keeps track of how many
                                                                             half the drivers.
                                                                                Superstar Dale Earnhardt’s death in
                                                                                                                               DANGER
 WATCHING                       people die in racing. Since most deaths
                                are deemed freak accidents, the sport
                                                                             February drew attention to the need for
                                                                             head restraints, which NASCAR in Oc-
                                                                                                                                ZONES
                                has been slow to detect patterns and         tober mandated for its top-level races.
Racing is under pressure        make changes that might save lives.          But a majority of U.S. racers don’t wear           A detailed look
                                   In a study of fatal wrecks since 1990,    restraints. Most track owners and rac-
  to be safer, but there’s      The Observer found these patterns:           ing groups don’t require them.                  at the most common
                                • Fences and barriers fail regularly.        • Medical response can be inadequate.
 little agreement on who           In addition to the 29 spectator              Emergency preparedness varies, de-
                                                                                                                             trouble spots at tracks
                                deaths, at least 70 were injured. Track      pending on a track’s size and resources.
  should set standards.         owners say car parts and debris com-         In at least 18 instances, families of dead
                                                                                                                              for fans and drivers.
                                monly clear fences, which vary in            and injured drivers say the rescue re-
     PA G E S 1 0 - 1 1         height from about 9 to 22 feet on oval                         SEE INVESTIGATION |2N
                                                                                                                                  PA G E 1 6
                                                                 [ RACING’S HUMAN TOLL ]




                                                                                                                                                                                                   GLENN SMITH – ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO
This Daytona 500 wreck, which killed racing legend Dale Earnhardt (3) on Feb. 18, prompted NASCAR to look more closely at safety. In the months since, NASCAR has mandated head restraints and is planning a
research center for safety and competitive issues. NASCAR also plans to install crash data recorders in its premier cars.




    DEATH AT THE TRACK                        Fatal accidents aren’t flukes: The average is 22 a year


A surprising toll: 260 dead
                –––––––
      Investigation from 1N                                                                                                                                                               Who Died, and Where
                                                                                                                                                                                          Details about those killed at
sponse was inadequate. Some small                                                                                                                                                         racetracks since 1990.
tracks provide untrained rescuers and
no ambulances or firetrucks.                                                                                                                                                              THE DEATHS
   “Racing has become so popular that                                                                                                                                                     • Deaths occurred in 44 states at
everybody wants a piece of it...but no-                                                                                                                                                   190 racetracks, drag strips, road
body wants to take responsibility for                                                                                                                                                     courses and off-road courses.
safety,” said Dr. Terry Trammell, an In-                                                                                                                                                  • The dead were 204 drivers, 29
dianapolis surgeon and consultant for                                                                                                                                                     spectators, 24 track workers and
Championship Auto Racing Teams                                                                                                                                                            crew, and three journalists.
(CART). “A few groups try to do the                                                                                                                                                       • At least 32 drivers have died of
right thing, but the industry is so frag-                                                                                                                                                 heart attacks.
mented that you have some terribly un-
safe racing going on.”                                                                                                                                                                    THE STATES
   In more than 400 interviews, plus                                                                                                                                                      • Florida had the most at 28;
newspaper and Internet searches, The                                                                                                                                                      California, 27; Indiana, 15; North
Observer documented 260 deaths in all                                                                                                                                                     Carolina was fourth at 14. South
levels of U.S. auto racing – from premier                                                                                                                                                 Carolina had two.
Winston Cup and Indy car events to                                                                                                                                                        • North and South Carolinians
dirt-track races. The study began with                                                                                                                                                    killed at U.S. tracks total 25. That’s
deaths in 1990, when more media and                                                                                                                                                       nearly 1 in 10 of all U.S. deaths.
databases became available on the In-
ternet. The study excluded deaths from                                                                                                                                                    THE DIVISIONS
youth go-karts, motorcycles, monster                                                                                                                                                      • NASCAR had at least 36 deaths
trucks, mud racing and racing schools.                                                                                                                                                    of drivers and fans – more than any
   Among the dead were 204 drivers, 29                                                                                                                                                    other group.
spectators, 24 track workers and crew,
and three journalists. The tally is likely                                                                                                                                                THE TRACKS
low because some deaths receive little,                                                                                                                                                   • More died at Lowe’s Motor
if any, media attention.                                                                                                                                                                  Speedway than at any other U.S.
   The study shows, on average, 14 driv-                                                                                                                                                  track: four drivers and three fans.
ers die in crashes yearly; three others                                                                                                                                                   • Major raceways – which make
die of health problems on the track.                                                                                                                                                      up 4 percent of America’s 1,300
   For comparison, in football, four play-                                                                                                                   JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTO     tracks – accounted for 20 percent
ers die from injuries playing the sport      Blaise Alexander Jr. moved to the Charlotte area to take advantage of its status in the racing industry. He died Oct. 4 at                   of deaths.
each year, and nine from health prob-        Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Above, in his hometown of Montoursville, Pa., pallbearers walk away from his hearse.
lems, such as heatstroke, on the field.
   But more people play football than
race. About 1.8 million play football        line – and it’s a tough line to walk.        Except for a few elite racing groups,        They collect detailed information on             safety to the track owners. Track own-
each year, from sandlot to pro leagues.      You’ve got to have some danger or it         most of the 200 race organizers conduct      every accident within their divisions,           ers tend to rely on insurance companies
Estimates of drivers range from 50,000       gets boring and nobody wants to              little – if any – accident analysis, which   which they say helps identify patterns           to tell them what’s safe.
to 400,000. Using the highest number,        watch.”                                      could more quickly identify patterns or      and reduce injuries. Since 1990, CART               Insurance companies say they’re not
which results in the most conservative          Leaders say racing is safer than it       risky conditions. When safety improve-       has had two drivers die in the United            safety experts either. They sell insur-
estimate, racing’s rate of death is more     once was because they constantly eval-       ments are made, they aren’t adopted in-      States. IRL has not had a driver death.          ance based on risks.
than five times that of football’s.          uate and improve safety. But even racing     dustrywide. And safety information           Both groups, however, have had acci-                “Just because a track is insured
                                             insiders call it a reactive industry with    isn’t routinely shared among groups,         dents that resulted in fan deaths. Now,          doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Len Ash-
  Dangerous, with a growing appeal           too many deaths.                             whose equipment and research is often        they require that tires be tethered to           burn, a retired insurance agent who spe-
   In the 1990s, auto racing’s popularity       “We recognize that we need to get         considered proprietary.                      cars.                                            cialized in racetrack policies.
boomed. Attendance doubled at                ahead of the curve instead of constantly        “These are basically 1,000 indepen-          The balance of the 200 racing groups             Dr. Trammell, the CART consultant,
NASCAR’s Winston Cup events. Eleven          being reactive,” said NASCAR vice            dent businesspeople across the coun-         control another 25 percent of races.             visits tracks to help CART determine
major racetracks were built or planned       president Jim Hunter, whose stock-car        try,” said Allan Brown, publisher of The     Most of those are merely networks of             hazards. “There’s no manual for how
for stock cars and the sleeker open-         governing body is among the largest of       National Speedway Directory. “It’s very      drivers who just want a place to race.           you build or inspect a track, and be-
wheeled cars.                                200 groups that organize races.              difficult to pin down what’s going on           Then there are the independents –             cause there’s no book and there’s noth-
   The sport went Hollywood with its            NASCAR officials have been “Nean-         out there.”                                  the small-track owners who stage their           ing organized, track owners build some-
marketing, and to Wall Street, where         derthals” in their data collection and ac-      About half of all U.S. races are con-     own races and run their own tracks as            thing just like all the rest of the tracks,”
stock in racing organizations is now         cident investigation, Hunter said.           trolled by those 200 racing organiza-        entrepreneurs. They control the re-              he said. “...All you do is perpetuate the
traded. In 2001, NASCAR landed a six-           Earnhardt’s death, and the questions      tions, which generally schedule and          maining 50 percent of races, and are the         same old mistakes.”
year, $2.4 billion television deal.          it raised, intensified NASCAR’s atten-       promote the events. Most make few – if       most cost-sensitive to safety measures.             The Observer study found most
   The sport’s speed and power, which        tion to safety. In addition to mandating     any – demands on driver or fan safety.          “If some group wants to put too many          deaths happened at the small tracks. But
draw fans, also make it inherently dan-      head restraints, it plans to install crash      About 10 of those groups, the largest     rules on me, they don’t come in here,”           major raceways – which make up 4 per-
gerous. Promoters say they need dan-         data recorders in its premier cars, as       and most influential in the U.S. racing      said Russell Hackett, owner of Caraway           cent of America’s 1,300 tracks – ac-
ger.                                         CART has done. It also plans a research      industry, control about 25 percent of the    Speedway in Asheboro. “Nobody’s go-              counted for a disproportionate 20 per-
   “It’s not a blood sport people want.      center that will study both safety and       races across America, said Brown, who        ing to tell me how to run my business.”          cent of deaths.
The loudest roar you’ll ever hear from a     competitive issues.                          contacts almost every track annually.           His track is safe, he said, because:             NASCAR had at least 36 deaths of
crowd is when a driver who appears to           “It’s a whole new world since Dale           Among the most popular and safety-        “You learn through years of doing it.”           drivers and fans – more than any other
be seriously hurt gets up and walks          Earnhardt died,” said Hunter.                conscious are CART and Indy Racing           Caraway’s one death, he said, “was a             racing group. Nineteen died at
away,” said Lowe’s speedway President           But even Earnhardt’s death hasn’t         League, which have about 150 drivers.        freak thing. It was just the way he hit.”        NASCAR-run races, including eight in
Wheeler. “But you’ve got to walk the         united the fragmented racing industry.       Their fenderless cars top 200 mph.              Racing organizations generally leave                      SEE INVESTIGATION |NEXT PAGE


                                                                  S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   2N   T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                        [ RACING’S HUMAN TOLL ]
D EAT H JUST PA RT O F STO RY


Injuries at
track alter
lives forever
  In addition to the 260 people who
have died in racing since 1990, at least
200 others suffered traumatic injuries.
Among them are:

JAY WRIGHT, 51, a NASA engineer from
Shore Acres, Texas, severed his spinal
cord in two places when the car he was
driving crashed in practice at Road At-
lanta Motor Sports Center in Georgia in
1993. Doctors say he will never walk.

VERNON HOLZER, 29, a welder who was
living in Brookings, S.D., can’t speak or
hold up his head six years after a tire
and other car parts hit him while he
worked as a pit crew member at Lake
County Speedway in South Dakota.
Holzer blinks his eyes once for yes,
twice for no and is fed by a stomach
tube. A family friend visits him in his
nursing home daily to exercise his arms
and legs.

MICKEY HUDSPETH, 35, a heavy equip-
ment operator in Ronda, N.C., nearly
severed his left hand in an accident at                                                                                                                                                                                                                JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTOS
Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1996. Doc-
tors amputated it at the wrist. He began
racing again in 1997, using a sophis-
ticated prosthetic hand.                                                                                                                             A school superintendent’s story
DENNIS TERNING, 36, a Cokato, Minn.,
farmer and track owner, is paralyzed                                                                                                                    With help from his brother, Frank, and his wife, David Anspaugh undergoes water
from his chest down, except for limited
                                                                                                                                                     therapy three times a week to help rebuild his muscles and regain his strength.
use of his right arm. He was injured in
1993 while competing at Arlington                                                                                                                       Anspaugh, 53, of Sturgis, Mich., is still in a nursing home more than a year after an
Raceway in Minnesota. An assistant                                                                                                                   Aug. 26, 2000, accident at The Milwaukee Mile. The Waldron (Mich.) Area Schools
bathes and dresses him, and helps him
in and out of his wheelchair.
                                                                                                                                                     superintendent was driving about 100 mph when his accelerator apparently stuck
                                                                                                                                                     and his car crashed into the first turn wall, slamming his brain against his skull.
DOMINIC CICERO, 21, a racing instructor                                                                                                                 Anspaugh can feed himself, brush his teeth and shave with an electric razor. But
from Vancouver, Wash., was driving a
high-speed kart last year at Pat’s Acres                                                                                                             his speech is erratic. And when he goes to races now, he rides in a wheelchair.
Karting Complex in Canby, Ore. when                                                                                                                     Will he ever race again?
he was pitched into the air after a crash.                                                                                                              “He talks about it,” says his wife, Charlotte. “I don’t really want him to, but that’s a
The impact of his body hitting the
ground ripped off the top third of his                                                                                                               decision he’s going to have to make.”
right lung, and doctors could not reat-                                                                                                              — DIANE SUCHETKA
tach it. Cicero is racing in England.




                –––––––                       father was killed in 1996 by a tire in the                         killing a retired truck driver who                        that 91⁄2 years have passed, nothing has
Investigation from previous page              pit at Texas’ Thunderbird Speedway.                                pushed his girlfriend to safety.                          changed....It’s a forgotten issue again.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Racing Glossary
                                                                                                                    Inexperienced drivers also elevate
                                                Drivers take the risk                                            danger. Most small tracks don’t screen
                                                                                                                                                                                3 deaths in past month
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BANKING: The sloping of the
its Winston Cup series, where speeds             Richard Petty best defines drivers’ ac-                         drivers for experience. Large tracks, too,                   The Oct. 4 death of driver Blaise Al-               racetrack surface, measured in
are highest. The other 17 died at small       ceptance of fate. His grandson, Adam,                              host events for the inexperienced. At                     exander Jr. was the most recent highly                 degrees from horizontal.
tracks where NASCAR sanctions races           died in 2000 when his car struck a wall                            Lowe’s Motor Speedway, three drivers                      publicized crash. Despite seven months
but leaves safety to local operators.         in New Hampshire. He doesn’t blame                                 were killed in separate races for novices.                of clamor about requiring head re-                     CAUTION: A period of a race when
   NASCAR uses the short-track races          racing. “If he was in an airplane, we                                 ARCA (Auto Racing Club of Ameri-                       straints, he didn’t wear one. He died at               the field is required to slow behind
to help develop drivers and widen its         wouldn’t blame airplanes,” he said.                                ca) is a developmental division that                      Lowe’s Motor Speedway from a head in-                  the pace car, and passing is not
exposure, NASCAR’s Hunter said. “We              Drivers need to believe it won’t hap-                           helps drivers move from short tracks                      jury similar to Earnhardt’s.                           allowed. Cautions come about
try to pick tracks and owners we think        pen to them. “You get a guy who drives a                           into the large ovals, but the group draws                    Since then, at least two more drivers               when there is trouble on the track
are responsible, but we don’t run the         race car, he’s a little like a hunter who                          criticism for its drivers’ skills.                        have died.                                             (an accident, an oil leak, rain, etc.).
race. It’s the track’s responsibility to      could get shot, but he’s never thinking                               Julius “Slick” Johnson of Florence,                       On Oct. 19, Billy Anderson died in                  CHASSIS: The frame and
make sure they run a safe event.”             about getting shot,” Petty said.                                   S.C., died at Daytona in a 1990 ARCA                      Minnesota of complications from a 1998                 suspension of a car.
   This year has been among racing’s             Families of drivers also have to accept                         race. His car went into a spin; a driver                  wreck at Iowa’s Knoxville Speedway. It
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  FLAGMAN: The track official who
worst, with 33 deaths, 29 at small tracks.    fate. They have little recourse because                            behind him slammed into his car.                          was that track’s third fatality in six years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  waves flags to start and finish
In June, seven drivers died in seven          drivers, too, sign waivers that release or-                           “I didn’t want him to go,” said his                       Anderson broke his neck when he ran
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  races and alerts drivers to
states, all at small tracks. A wreck at Lo-   ganizers from responsibility.                                      wife, Janice. “We all knew there were                     over the wheel of another car and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cautions and on-track penalties.
rain County Speedway in Ohio killed              The youngest driver to die since 1990                           going to be a lot of rookie drivers.”                     flipped. For three years, he was in a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Flagmen are stationed at the
one fan and hurt 13.                          was Jimmy Olson, 15. He suffered head                                                                                        wheelchair, unable to talk. His wife
   “I almost lost my children at a sports     injuries last year when he crashed his
                                                                                                                   Rescue teams often lacking                              nursed him through recurring infec-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  start-finish line and sometimes in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the corners and at pit entrances
event,” said Ginger Jakupca of Akron,         pickup into a concrete wall at Wiscon-                                Some small tracks provide poorly                       tions. “This was a freak accident but it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and exits.
Ohio, whose children were injured.            sin’s Lake Geneva Raceway. He wasn’t                               trained fire and rescue workers. Some                     can happen to anybody and that’s what
“There’s just no excuse for that.”            wearing a head restraint, and didn’t                               have firetrucks and ambulances stand-                     people need to realize,” said Jenny An-                FUEL CELL: A type of fuel tank that
                                              have a driver’s license. Most states, in-                          ing by; some don’t. Drivers and fans                      derson.                                                has an inner rubber - or similar -
  Are fans protected?                         cluding the Carolinas, don’t require a li-                         rush to accident scenes, occasionally                        On Oct. 21, two days after Anderson                 lining to hold the fuel if the outer
   Depending on a track’s size, protec-       cense to race.                                                     hampering rescue efforts.                                 died, Jimmy Jones was killed at India-                 tank is punctured.
tion for fans ranges from reinforced             Lowe’s speedway President Wheeler                                  Delmar “Junior” Riggins’ gas tank ex-                  napolis Raceway Park when his car                      GARAGE: The area where
fences and concrete walls to dirt             allows children as young as 12 to race                             ploded in a 1999 wreck at Oklahoma’s                      went into a spin and was hit by another                mechanics and drivers prepare
mounds, which can serve more as               against each other in smaller, less pow-                           Enid Motor Speedway – where there                         car. Drivers had no radio warning of                   and work on their cars. Garages
launch pads than shields.                     erful cars. But putting a child in a full-                         was no firetruck on site. Extinguishers                   Jones’ trouble. Race organizers had                    are usually located in the infield.
   Cars and parts can turn into lethal        size car to race with adults, “is like giv-                        were used to fight the fire, but Riggins,                 banned radios, a safety tool, to help driv-
projectiles. Drivers crashed through –        ing a kid a .357 magnum with a feather-                            44, died from his burns.                                  ers save money.                                        HANS: Acronym for Head and
or over – barriers, striking scoreboards,     light trigger and telling him to scratch                              Driver Doug Wolfgang – trapped in                         Five days later, a track pace car led               Neck Safety device. The brace fits
flag stands, trees and bleachers.             his head with the barrel,” said Wheeler.                           his burning car for eight minutes in a                    the procession from the funeral home to                around the shoulders and
   A 10-year-old boy and his younger             California’s Del Quinn – known as                               1992 wreck – won a $1.2 million verdict                   the grave for the 26-year-old father of                attaches to a driver’s helmet,
sister were killed in 1993 when a tire        “The Mighty Quinn” – was the oldest                                against Lakeside Speedway in Kansas                       two young children.                                    limiting the neck’s movement
cleared the fence at a small Kansas           driver to die. The 68-year-old retired                             City, Kan., and the World of Outlaws                         “I don’t want this to keep happening,”              during a crash to help minimize
track. Three fans died in 1998 in Michi-      electrician had crossed the finish line at                         sanctioning body. Wolfgang’s case fo-                     said his mother, Sue, a day after the fu-              whiplash.
gan, and three more in 1999 near Char-        Hanford’s King Speedway when he had                                cused on inadequate rescue measures.                      neral. “Something has to be done. We’ve                HARNESS (five- and six-point):
lotte, when car parts cleared the fences      a heart attack in 2001.                                               “We proved beyond a shadow of a                        got to stop burying these boys.”                       Safety belt designed to limit the
at two major tracks.                             In 1997, at a now-closed speedway in                            doubt it was gross, wanton negligence,”                                                                          range of motion of drivers during
   Protection is particularly poor            Rutherford County, N.C., a driver had a                            said Wolfgang, who endured 15 recon-                      — AMES ALEXANDER, PETER ST. ONGE, ANDREW SHAIN         a collision.
around infield, garage and pit areas –        heart attack and careened off the track,                           structive surgeries. “But the truth is now                AND DIANE SUCHETKA CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE.        INFIELD: The area inside an oval
where spectators wander amid working                                                                                                                                                                                              track.
crews and moving vehicles. Fences and
barriers in those areas are typically less                                                                                                                                                                                        KART: Smaller racing car with
substantial than those guarding stands.                                                                                                                                                                                           wheels and chassis covered by a
   At least nine spectators and 12 crew                                                                                                                                                                                           lightweight plastic shell. Karts are
                                                                                                                                                                                                      VT. N.H. MAINE              capable of reaching 150 mph.
and track workers died in pits and in-
                                                                                                                                                                                                      0 6         2
fields.                                        Racing                                   WASH.                                                                              MICH.           N.Y.                                   OPEN WHEEL: Fenderless cars that
   Rene Bourgois, 34, was killed and 21                                                                                                                                                                                           race with their wheels exposed.
were injured at Stockton (Calif.) Speed-       Deaths                                      5
                                                                                                                  MONTANA           N.D.
                                                                                                                                                                            11              11                                    Includes CART, IRL and Formula
way in 1993, when a car crashed through        by State                             ORE.                              0              1             MINN.                           W.VA.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One and sprint cars.
a pit fence and into seats for drivers and                                            4                                                                                                                                MASS. 1
crew. A father of triplets died at an Au-      From 1990 to                                       IDAHO                             S.D.            1             WIS.              3                                             PITS: The area where cars are
burn, Mich., track in 1999 when a car hit      October 2001.                                         3                WYO.           2                            11                                                   R.I. 0     serviced during a race. At smaller
                                                                                                                          0                          IOWA                                       PA.                    CONN. 6    tracks, the pits also are where
him in the infield. And in 1996, at Indi-                                                                                           NEB.
                                                                                           NEV.                                                         8                        OHIO             8                    N.J. 3     cars are parked before and after
ana’s Salem Speedway, a 7-year-old girl
                                                                                             3           UTAH                        1                              ILL. IND.                                 DEL. 1              races. Pits can be inside or outside
visiting her father in the infield was                                         CALIF.
                                                                                                             1            COLO.
                                                                                                                                         KAN.                       10 15 13                                      MD. 1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the track oval.
killed when a tire hit her head.                                                 27                                           2                         MO.
   Some tracks bar fans from these high-       Number of deaths                                                                            6                6             KY. 3
                                                                                                                                                                                                  N.C.            VA. 7           ROLL CAGE: The steel cage
risk areas; others charge them extra to                0                                                                                                                                                                          designed to protect drivers from
                                                                                                     ARIZ.                                 OKLA.                      TENN. 1                     14                              impacts or rollovers.
visit. People who enter the infield and                1                                                               N.M.                             ARK.                               S.C.
                                                                                                         5                                     5            1
pits must sign waivers promising not to
                                                       2-10
                                                                                                                          1                                                        GA.      2                                     STOCK CAR: Racing vehicles with
sue – even when race organizers are                                                                                                                                MISS. ALA.
                                                                                                                                                                       2    1       3                                             the bodies of mass-produced
negligent. Courts typically uphold such                11-20                                                                        TEXAS                   LA.                                                                   passenger cars and trucks.
waivers, which allow tracks to avoid in-
                                                       21-30                                                                          12                    3                                          FLA.
stalling safety measures.                                                                                                                                                                                                         STRAIGHTAWAY: The portion of a
   “You know what those waivers do? It                                                                                                                                                                   28                       track that isn’t a turn.
gives them the power to kill you, and         Note: Alaska and Hawaii had no racing deaths.
                                              Source: The Charlotte Observer study of U.S. racing deaths since 1990                                                                                       DAVID PUCKETT – STAFF
there’s nothing you can do about it,”
said Ron Landrum, whose 71-year-old


                                                                          S U N DAY , N OV E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1                  3N         T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                             [ THE FANS ]




                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO
Fans recoil from a fiery February 2000 wreck that sent NASCAR truck driver Geoffrey Bodine spinning into the grandstand fences at Daytona International Speedway. Nine spectators were injured in the wreck,
which tore down 50 feet of fence and sent debris into the stands. Since 1990, 29 fans have died at U.S. racing events, including 16 fans in grandstands.




    DEATH AT THE TRACK                           Out-of-control cars, flying debris end lives in an instant



Race fans also die               By Peter St. Onge
                                       Staff Writer

   The wheel came off in Turn 2, snapped from its axle in a two-car colli-
sion. It bounded free down the small-track straightaway and into the pits,
slamming off a car’s hood and leaping, faster than fright, into the Salem
(Ind.) Speedway infield.
   There, Dawn Mayden and her daughter had left their lawn chairs for
some barbecued chicken at a concession stand. The tire struck Lindsey
Mayden, 7 years old. Lindsey who wanted to be a veterinarian and a
midget car racer. Lindsey who liked her daddy to play Pretty, Pretty Prin-
cess with her at night, and who, on this day in 1996, kissed him and waited
while he worked as a spotter for his brother in the afternoon’s last race.
   “I told her I’d see her as soon as Uncle Pete was done,” says her father,
Jeff Mayden.
   “Three minutes later, she was gone.”

   She is one of 29 spectators since 1990      tracks, after tragedies, raise fence
to be killed by cars or their flying parts     heights or beef up security and car in-
at U.S. auto racing events. At least 70        spections. Other officials do little,
have been injured, some suffering life-        shrugging instead at the danger of mix-
altering afflictions, including a Florida      ing fans who crave nearness and cars
father of three now living in a New Jer-       that, by design, fragment upon impact.
sey home for people with brain damage.            Still others, inured by lap after lap of
   Most prominently, three spectators          fan-friendly racing – and unaware that
were killed and six injured by a flying        almost one fan a month in racing season
wheel and debris in June 1998 when             is killed or seriously injured on U.S.
driver Adrian Hernandez hit the Turn 4         tracks – think of spectator incidents as
wall during a Championship Auto Rac-           mere freak occurrences.                                                                                                                                     PATRICK SCHNEIDER – STAFF PHOTO
ing Teams race at Michigan Speedway.              Such is what Jeff Mayden believed be-      Emergency workers shield the bodies of spectators killed when a three-car wreck sent a wheel and debris into the stands in
In May 1999, three died and eight were         fore his daughter was killed.                 May 1999 during an Indy Racing League race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Three fans were killed and eight injured. In
injured in Concord when a wheel and               For as long as he remembers, his view      response, speedway officials raised grandstand fences from 15 to 21 feet and have stopped hosting IRL races at the track.
parts from a three-car wreck flew into         of Saturday nights was framed by the
the grandstand during an Indy Racing           edges of a driver’s helmet. He learned to
League event at Lowe’s Motor Speed-            race on go-karts at age 9, graduated to       first trip to a track.                        handing food and drinks to her husband          17 feet after its 1998 CART crash. In
way.                                           stock cars as an adult. On the night             Rickie Foster had been to others, and      and 5-year-old son, Matthew. She                Charlotte, speedway officials made no
   More often, like Lindsey Mayden,            Lindsey was born, he rushed to the hos-       on this night in 1996, he began to feel un-   looked up to see the Dodge tumbling in          changes in the 10 months after the
spectators die with less publicity at          pital smeared with grease; hours earlier,     easy as he dipped down a country road         the air her way, then jumped up, shoved         Michigan wreck, then raised their
smaller ovals and asphalt drag strips on       he’d bought his first race car, a 1984 Im-    to Sumerduck. The track seemed in             her husband aside, and pushed Mat-              fences from 15 to 21 feet after their own
Friday and Saturday nights. Sixteen            pala Super Sport.                             poor condition. The grandstands               thew down into the bleachers. The car,          open-wheel racing accident. Both
have been killed in grandstands and               Lindsey took to cars with the same         looked shabby to him; the fence in front      roof first, slammed into her. She died in-      tracks also increased their fences’ over-
bleachers, nine in pit and infield areas,      fervor. She spent after-school hours at       of them seemed too short to be protec-        stantly.                                        hang.
one leaning against a track fence, anoth-      her father’s Sellersburg, Ind., body shop     tive.                                            It is, perhaps, racing’s worst fear: a car      At smaller tracks, insurance compa-
er sitting on his vehicle at the end of a      and weekends with her mother at                  Yet weren’t there races here every         or its disconnected parts hurtling over         nies are the primary arbiters of fence
drag strip. They have been struck while        nearby Salem Speedway, watching her           weekend? Rickie Foster had never heard        fences into fans. “We don’t want any-           height and design. Required fence
getting into a pickup truck to go home,        dad and uncle race. “I always thought         of any fan deaths; in fact, there had been    body killed, but we sure don’t want our         heights for oval track bleachers vary
while getting a drink from the conces-         she was probably in more danger driv-         none in Sumerduck’s 30 years. So, Fos-        customers killed,” says Lanny Edwards,          from 9 to 15 feet, according to insurance
sion stand, while watching races with          ing to the racetrack than being in the in-    ter remembers now, he ignored the tug         owner of Devil’s Bowl Speedway in               company representatives. Pit fencing,
their mothers and fathers, children and        field,” he says.                              of intuition, and his family sat in the       Mesquite, Texas, one of thousands of            however, is rarely mandated. The reali-
grandchildren.                                    Now, he says softly, he doesn’t know.      bleachers about halfway down the one-         small tracks dotting the country.               ty: “Fences can always be higher,” says
   With the deaths have come questions         He is thankful only that Lindsey had her      eighth-mile strip.                               The worst such incident occurred in          Tracy Clay, manager of I-30 Speedway
– about track fencing, about unin-             back to the track when the tire bounced          Soon after, Danny George’s 1970            1955 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in              in North Little Rock, Ark.
spected cars, about supervision in re-         toward her. She never saw danger com-         Dodge Dart revved at the starting line        France, where Pierre LeVegh’s Mer-                 Track inspections vary, as well. In-
stricted areas. And for each spectator         ing. Most race fans don’t.                    for a qualifying run. When the Dodge          cedes flew over a 3-foot grass bank and         surers wait as much as three years be-
killed, there are tales of others spared                                                     leapt forward, a small, metal antifreeze      small white fence into a crowd of spec-         tween track visits, leaving opportunity
when cars or wheels flew over fences
                                                  No protection from fences                  plug came loose from the engine. Cool-        tators near the pit straightaway, killing       for repairs and maintenance to lag. At
and through pits, striking no one. In a           For her 36th birthday, Vickie Lynn         ant spewed; instantly, the track was          more than 80. Race officials later moved        Clay’s I-30 Speedway, track officials we-
1998 incident, an out-of-control race car      Foster got a treat – a trip to Sumerduck      slick.                                        spectators back from the straightaway           ren’t aware of a hole in a wire fence near
climbed over a fence at a Phoenix              Dragway 40 miles from her rural Chan-            “The car turned sideways on the            and built new fencing, now about 30             the pit area outside the track’s oval. In
speedway and came to rest just 15 feet         cellorsville, Va., home. The idea was         track,” Foster says. “It came up into the     feet high, to protect them.                     July 1995, Michael “Buzz” Baker, a vis-
from fan seating. “It could have been a        husband Rickie’s; he and Vickie               bleachers. It took a total of about four         Other tracks have taken a similarly re-      iting construction worker from Sabetha,
nightmare,” the track’s owner said then.       watched all kinds of racing on televi-        seconds.”                                     active approach to tragedy. Michigan            Kan., paid to watch a Saturday night of
   The response to fan danger? Some            sion. This, however, would be Vickie’s           Vickie Foster sat in the grandstands,      Speedway raised its fences from 14 1⁄2 to                     SEE SPECTATORS|NEXT PAGE



                                                                     S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   4N    T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                                [ THE FANS ]
                –––––––                        then you’re opening yourself up to law-
  Spectators from previous page                suits,” says Dave Rhead, president of op-
                                               erations at Red Cedar Speedway in Me-
                                               nomonie, Wis.
races from the pit bleachers.
   As Baker left his seat for a drink from
                                                 Fans want to get too close
the concession stand, a wheel came                A small-track Saturday night: mid-
loose from a car on the track. The             September at the Lancaster (S.C.)
wheel, witnesses would say later,              Speedway, and the season has taken its
bounced through the unrepaired hole in         usual toll. Drivers, nursing accumulated
the fence, then struck Baker above his         grudges, satisfy them on and off the
right eye. He died a week later.               track. Their cars, after months of mutu-
   “The insurance never determined             al insult, begin to take on the appear-
what happened,” says Clay, who said he         ance of crumpled paper.
doesn’t know the path the wheel took.             The result is something of a chaotic
“Some people said it went over the             feel: fights in the pits, fans rushing in
fence.” North American Racing Insur-           noisy scrums to watch. “I have 200 fires
ance settled with Baker’s widow, Cyn-          to put out,” track president Doug
thia, for $1 million.                          McManus says. “And it gets worse at the
   “I still love to go to races,” Cynthia      end of the night.”
says now. “He would be going if it were           Security, it seems, can get lost in the
me that died.”                                 swirl. Considered by drivers as one of
   But: “Everywhere I go, I check out          the area’s safer tracks, Lancaster falls
their fence.”                                  prey to spectators sneaking into re-
   At Sumerduck Dragway, where                 stricted areas or watching from behind
Vickie Foster’s life ended, owner Roger        the short fences that circle the outside
Curtis has changed nothing about his 4-        of the oval. Others ignore signs urging
to 6-foot chain-link fences. “No,” he          people away from the 4-foot chain-link
says. “It was a fluke-ass thing.” Curtis, in   fence separating the pits from the track.
fact, is proud of his track’s barriers; he     One father lifts his infant daughter                                                                                                                                       JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTO
installs guardrails for dragways around        above the fence so she can better see the              Haley McGee still fights to recover from brain injuries suffered when she was hit by debris during a May 1999 IRL crash
the Southeast.                                 cars roaring past less than 20 feet away.              at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Haley, who once earned A’s and B’s in school, now struggles to keep up with her class.
   “If you run your track right,” he says,        Such indifference to safety is a con-
“things won’t happen to you.”                  cern to track officials everywhere.
   The crash that killed Rickie Foster’s          “Fans are their own worst enemy,”
                                                                                                      SURVIVOR: HALEY MCGEE


                                                                                                      Family adapts, but life has changed
wife left his son, Matthew, in critical        says Dickie Gore, owner of Old Domin-
condition for two months with a rup-           ion Speedway in Manassas, Va. “There’s
tured sternum, seven broken ribs and           a certain thrill with being right on top of
two collapsed lungs. Rickie Foster be-         the cars.”
lieves his son also suffered from a lack          The challenge for speedway owners:
of oxygen that night. The result: Mat-         How do you balance the counter-                                            –––––––                  make others forget she was injured.              has made a reasonable settlement of-
thew, now 10, has difficulty compre-           weights of safety and intimacy? One                                                                 She appears no different than other              fer to the McGees. The family is pur-
hending colors and the alphabet.               compromise is to offer pit access to fans              12-year-old battles back,                    girls her age – a Winnie the Pooh fan,           suing a lawsuit.
   Rickie Foster is raising Matthew and        who sign a liability waiver, which isn’t               after suffering injuries from                nervous about middle school, learning               Yet Haley and her family feel fortu-
their other two children. The oldest, a        so much a safety solution as acknowl-                                                               to play “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” on her              nate. In the weeks after the accident,
daughter, was married this summer.             edgment that the best viewing is also                  debris soaring into stands                   clarinet.                                        Haley was like an infant, unable to
The youngest, another daughter who             the most dangerous.                                                        –––––––                     But the accident shows itself often           care for herself. The McGees were
was 13 months old when her mother                 Yet pit access leaves tracks harder-                                                             in Haley – and in her family.                    told she might never function nor-
died, is now in middle school.                 pressed to monitor fans.                                            By Peter St. Onge                  Haley suffers hand tremors and fre-           mally.
   Rickie Foster, who suffered knee and           Another Saturday night: Late August                                  Staff Writer                quent headaches. Her mind works a                   “I was sitting right beside Haley
back injuries in the wreck, no longer          1991 at the Can-Am Speedway, a four-                      CONOVER — The list is one page            couple of beats slow at times, says her          when it happened,” Susan McGee
works, thanks to an insurance settle-          tenths-mile clay oval in upstate New                   long, dated June 1999, compiled by a         father, Neal. “Haley’s smart,” he says.          says. “I thought for a long time, ‘Why
ment.                                          York. Bethany Wells, a 17-year-old from                physical therapist in Charlotte. On it       “She thinks of things, but it’s two min-         didn’t I push her down?’
   “I just exist day to day,” he says.         Watertown, N.Y., leaned into her fa-                   are games children play and activities       utes after. Her thoughts go behind her              “I’ve always been protective, but
                                               ther’s car in a racers-only area.                      they love - 30 in all. Haley McGee is        actions.”                                        I’ve become a little more so. My older
  Cars loosely inspected                          On the track, an accident sent a wheel              warned from each.                               She once earned A’s and B’s but               children tell me, ‘Mom, you’ve got to
   Classes at Christ the King School           flying through the pits. “Heads up,”                      Gymnastics is out, as are friendly        now struggles to keep up with class-             let us live.’ ”
were canceled for Josh and Amanda              someone yelled. When Bethany Wells                     games of football. Basketball, cheer-        mates, and she must sit at the front of             She tries. Trips to the racetrack are
Dutton’s funeral. On an autumn Friday          straightened to look, she was hit in the               leading – perhaps another day for a          the class so she can focus better.               out, but last year, the McGees went to
in Wichita, Kan., students and teachers        forehead by the wheel assembly. She                    girl with brain damage.                         At home, Haley’s parents are pro-             a rodeo with friends. Susan seemed to
walked next door to Christ the King            died five days later.                                     It is a reminder even now of the          tective about her activities – any new           enjoy the evening, but when bull-
Church, where a eulogist read farewell            Track owners initially argued that                  journey 12-year-old Haley has faced          bump on the head could cause severe              riding began, she left the bleachers.
letters from Cindy and Paul Dutton to          Wells was not in a restricted area, but in-            since debris from an Indy Racing             damage - but they don’t want Haley to            Her husband found her near the exit.
their children.                                surers later settled with Bethany Wells’               League car struck her at Lowe’s Motor        live in a shell.                                    “She said, ‘If those bulls come over
   Six days before, on Sept. 4, 1993, the      mother, Lois, for $100,000. New general                Speedway near Charlotte in May 1999.            The compromise: Haley can play                that fence, I’m out of here.’ ” Neal Mc-
family spent Saturday night as usual - at      manager John Burr acknowledges Wells                   Three spectators were killed and sev-        softball, but she must wear a helmet at          Gee remembers.
the 81 Speedway, a three-eighths-mile          was where she shouldn’t have been.                     en others injured.                           all times. She can’t take gymnastics,               He told her that wasn’t going to hap-
clay oval at the north end of town where          Another Saturday night: Late August                    Haley, knocked unconscious for two        but she is trying out dance classes.             pen.
Paul Dutton raced sprint cars. Josh, 9,        1997 at the Cowtown Speedway in Ken-                   days, remembers nothing about the               Lowe’s Motor Speedway president                  “That tire wasn’t going to, either,”
and Amanda, 7, sat in the grandstand           nedale, Texas, a Fort Worth suburb. In                 accident. Sprightly and smart, she can       Humpy Wheeler says the speedway                  Susan McGee said.
with their mother, their grandparents          the final race of the night, Melanie
and 5-year-old brother, Justin.                Mitchell, a 16-year-old from Kennedale,
   During a qualifying heat, a sprint car      watched with her boyfriend in a re-
driven by Jon Johnson lost its tire and        stricted area near the back straightaway.
rim in a turn. The tire hit a concrete bar-       Just after midnight, a car leading the              SURVIVOR: LAKE WILSON
rier in front of the grandstand.               race lost its right front wheel, which

                                                                                                      Brain injury takes dad from his family
   “It kind of catapulted into the sky,”       sailed into a fence near the teens. The
Cindy Dutton remembers. “When it               fence hit Mitchell in the head, killing
came down, it came down on us.”                her.
   The wheel hit Amanda flush, crush-             “They were told to move,” says Cow-
ing her lungs and heart beyond sur-            town Speedway general manager                                              –––––––                                                                   “He loves to go to races,” says Kathy
geons’ repair. She died five hours later,      Danny Bogart, who says new owners                                                                                                                    Wilson.
early the next day. Josh, shoved into the      have installed fencing that restricts ac-              After 11 1⁄2 months in coma,                                                                     Michelle Wilson, who lives with her
bleachers by the impact, suffered mas-
sive head injuries. He died the day after
                                               cess to the area where Mitchell and
                                               Lewis were standing.
                                                                                                      he’s in a facility far away                                                                   children in Inverness, Fla., sued Citrus
                                                                                                                                                                                                    County Speedway after the 1990 acci-
his sister, on his 10th birthday.                 Can-Am Speedway also has installed                                      –––––––                                                                   dent, but withdrew the lawsuit in part
   At their funeral, the Rev. Eugene Ger-      fencing near the pit area where Bethany                             By Peter St. Onge                                                                because her husband had signed a
ber, bishop of Wichita’s Roman Catho-          Wells was killed.                                                       Staff Writer                                                                 waiver to sit in the pit area. Later, she
lic diocese and a family friend, tried to         “It’s too late,” says Danielle Wells,                  Lake Wilson wishes his son and                                                             sued Mr. Gasket, manufacturer of the
console the mournful. Nobody planned           now three years older than Bethany.                    twin girls could come to New Jersey                                                           hood pins on the car that crashed. The
this tragedy, he told them. “It was,” he       “She was in a prohibited area. They say                more often to visit. He knows his fami-                                                       case was settled before trial; members
said, “nobody’s fault.”                        they patrol that area all the time, but                ly once was together, but for awhile, he                                                      of the Wilson family will receive struc-
   Eight years later, 81 Speedway’s            there should have been better security.”               couldn’t recall the racing accident that                                                      tured cash payments of up to $5 mil-
owner seems to disagree. Johnson’s car,                                                               changed everything. It was, he                                                                lion for the rest of their lives.
said C. Ray Hall, was using an experi-
                                                 Marriage ends; questions haunt
                                                                                                      thought, a boating mishap.                                                                       A spokesman for Ohio-based Mr.
mental spindle, which serves as an axle           Jeff Mayden hasn’t been to Salem                       Wilson lives now near his boyhood                                                          Gasket says the company has been
for the front wheels.                          Speedway in the five years since his                   home in a facility for people with brain                                                      sold twice since the accident; he didn’t
   “It didn’t belong on that car,” Hall        daughter’s death. He’d heard the track                 injuries. He may spend the rest of his                         COURTESY OF KATHERINE WILSON   know details of the settlement.
says.                                          was going to build a fenced playground                 life there.                                  Lake Wilson, here with his son and                  Says Michelle Wilson: “It makes me
   Of the 29 fan deaths since 1990, 10 oc-     in the infield in Lindsey’s honor, but                    That life changed on April 4, 1990,       twin girls last Christmas, lives in a            able to take care of them.”
curred after tires and other parts inex-       those plans went unrealized. Salem has,                when Wilson sat in the pit bleachers at      New Jersey home for people with                     The twins, 12-year-olds Tracee and
plicably came off cars. An Observer sur-       however, put up a new fence separating                 Citrus County, Fla., Speedway while          brain damage. His wife and children              Randee, were 11 months old at the time
vey of track officials showed that few         the infield from the pits.                             his wife took their children to a circus.    still live in Florida.                           of the accident and only know their fa-
speedways inspect cars closely for more           It is too late, he thinks. Too late for his         At the track, a stock car veered out of                                                       ther this way, their mother says. Ryan,
than basic safety items such as re-            daughter, and for his marriage, which                  control and flipped. Its hood flew into      plegic, says his wife, Michelle. He has          just shy of 7 then, is having troubles at
straints and helmets. Some neglect even        lasted almost five years before bowing                 the bleachers, hitting Wilson in the         shown great improvement; he now can              high school and difficulty seeing his fa-
those, conducting superficial prerace          to the weight of Lindsey’s memory. How                 cheekbone.                                   use the right side of his body. Last year,       ther so different, she says.
walk-throughs or no checks at all.             do you deal with seeing your child’s face                 Wilson, then a 28-year-old boat me-       he qualified for his General Educa-                 “He and his dad had been insepara-
   At the 81 Speedway, Hall says cars are      every time your wife walks through the                 chanic, spent 111⁄2 months in a coma,        tional Development (GED) certificate.            ble,” Michelle Wilson says. “He re-
inspected on two occasions - the first         door?                                                  then awoke to find himself a quadri-            He visits his mother on weekends.             members how he used to be.”
time they appear at the track and after           He is remarried now, and he’s even
they are involved in accidents. Johnson,       found himself back at the track, racing a
who confirmed the experimental spin-           truck some weekends at Indianapolis
dle on the car involved in Josh and            Raceway Park. Yet he can’t outrun the
Amanda Dutton’s death, says he drove it        questions that wait for him at nights in
that night in a one-time arrangement for       his auto body shop. Why did Lindsey                    SURVIVOR: KALEB CHESTER
a local outfit. “The spindle just locked       want to sit in the infield that night in-
up and came off,” he remembers. Track
technicians had not inspected the car.
   “We don’t do checks before races,”
                                               stead of Turn 1 or 2, where she and her
                                               mother always sat? Why, after not eating
                                               solids for two weeks because she
                                                                                                      10-year-old has close call at fence, but lives
says Hall. “There’s no way to stay ahead       choked on a grape at school, did Lind-                                     –––––––
of these drivers.”                             sey suddenly want chicken?                                                                          Neither parent worried terribly about            nearby Turn 4 fence.
                                                                                                                                                   Kaleb driving. But they never consid-               His parents saw only the wreck. “I’m
   Such decisions are largely left up to          “I ask myself every night if something              Now his family’s back                        ered the danger of watching.                     going to take Seth and see the crashed
speedways. Sanctioning bodies, some of         could have been different,” Mayden
which require driver safety equipment,         says. Fencing, maybe, or car safety. Al-               at Saturday night races                        On Sept. 4, 1999, Diane and Terry              cars,” Diane told her husband. Terry
                                                                                                                                                   Chester watched Saturday night races             followed later. “On the way down, I
don’t demand that tracks inspect cars,         though Salem says technicians inspect                                      –––––––                                  from the Tri-City                heard people say a little kid got hurt,”
an Observer survey found. Insurance            cars, Mayden, a former driver there,
companies, some fearful of legal liabili-      says cars drove often with deficient                                By Peter St. Onge                               bleachers           with         he said. It was his son, on the ground,
                                                                                                                       Staff Writer                                2-year-old son Seth.             thrown 20 feet by the impact of the car.
ty, are reluctant to mandate any driver        parts – especially in the lower classes.
or car inspections.                            Was that what went wrong?                                 Kaleb Chester has been racing small                       Kaleb played with his               Kaleb suffered a fractured pelvis,
   “We have to be very careful what we            It’s a struggle echoed by those left                sprint cars for five years. He figures the                   buddies near the front           fractured skull and a contusion on his
ask them to do,” says George Knight of         with the loss of fan fatalities. How do                cars will get bigger as he does, until                       straightaway and Turn            brain. He was unconscious for four to
George Knight Associates in Tulsa,             they reconcile racing’s freakish possibil-             he’s driving in NASCAR races like his                        4. “I’ve sat down there          five days, on crutches for two months.
Okla., a small-track insurance provider.       ities with the notion that death, perhaps,             favorite driver, Tony Stewart. Already,                      a million times,” said              Now, his father says, the family has
“We don’t want the legal system to say,        doesn’t have to be so inevitable?                      the 10-year-old has asked his mom to         Kaleb           Terry Chester. “It’s a           gone back to Saturday nights at Tri-
‘You approved this car inspection                 “It could be someone else’s daughter                be in charge of publicity.                                   place      you    never          City. Kaleb is back in a quarter-midget
thing.’ ”                                      next time,” Jeff Mayden says, but the an-                 Diane Chester readily agreed. She’s       thought a race car could get to.”                car, racing in nearby Greenville, Ill.
   Track officials voiced the same hes-        ger is only a flash, the sentiment dis-                an avid racing fan; her husband and            On this night, one did – a late-model             “The first time he got in that car af-
itance. “If you tell them what they have       sipates with a sigh, and the body shop is              Kaleb’s father, Terry, races in the modi-    car that went out of control on the half-        ter the accident, I was a little nervous,”
to do, and then something happens and          still too quiet without his best friend,               fieds division at Tri-City Speedway,         mile track and struck a wall in Turn 4.          Diane Chester says. “But after that, I
they haven’t done what you told them,          Lindsey.                                               near their South Roxana, Ill., home.         Kaleb at the time had his back to a              was fine.”


                                                                       S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1     5N     T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                               DEATH AT
1990                                              VERNON HARRIS
                                                  48, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                PATRICK MCINTYRE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                28, track staff          FEB. 1, 1993
JULIUS “SLICK’’                                   July 22, 1990                                                                                                                                                 Sept. 27, 1992
JOHNSON                                           A piece of metal                                                                                                                                              McIntyre was work-
41, driver                                        from another car                                                                                                                                              ing as a flagman at
                                                  ripped through the                                                                                                                                            Old Dominion




                                                                              THE TRACK
Feb. 15, 1990
Johnson’s car                                     floor of Vernon                                                                                                                                               Speedway in Ma-
crashed during a                                  Harris’s stock car at                                                                                                                                         nassas, Va., when a
stock-car race at        KEN WILKINSON            Maryland’s Potomac                                                                                                                                            car crashed and
Daytona (Fla.)           37, driver               Speedway, severing                                                                                                                                            struck the flagstand
International            May 26, 1990             an artery in his leg                                                                                                                                          as its driver battled
                         Wilkinson’s car          and causing                                                                                                                                                   for position on the      JOHN CLARK                 ERIC KARL LINDQUIST
Speedway. A                                                                                                                                                                                                                              52, driver                 37, spectator
Florence, S.C.,          collided with            extensive blood loss.                                                                                                                                         last lap. The Dale
machinist and father     another car’s wheel,     The construction                                                                                                                                              City, Va., resident
of two, his family       went airborne,           company owner                                                                                                                                                 was known for lean-      After a day of time trials, racers drove
                         crashed into a wall –    from Prince                       Racing has lost the prominent – and those who wanted to be. Seven-time                                                      ing over the rail to     interested spectators around a make-
stopped life support
after three days so      and nearly into the      Frederick, Md., left              midget and sprint car champion Rich Vogler died in 1990, NASCAR veteran                                                     touch winning cars       shift road course in an Irvine, Calif.,
he wouldn’t die on       grandstand at Beech      two sons.                                                                                                                                                     with the checkered       amusement park parking lot. Clark, a
                         Ridge Motor                                                J.D. McDuffie in 1991, and that same year, 22-year-old Kara Hendrick, who                                                   flag, said Tom
his son’s birthday.
                         Speedway in Maine.            –––––––                                                                                                                                                  Priddy, who was as-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         California computer consultant, was
                                                                                    dreamed of being the first woman to win the Daytona 500. Billy Vukovich III                                                                          taking Lindquist for a ride when
     –––––––             Wilkinson, an                                                                                                                                                                          sisting McIntyre on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Clark’s 1965 Lotus Elan crashed into
                         electrician from                                           died in a sprint car in November 1990, 35 years after his grandfather died at                                               the stand that night.
RON HUGHES JR.           Turner, Maine, broke                                                                                                                                                                                            a grove of trees. Clark’s widow, Gin-
28, driver               his neck and died.
                                                                                    the Indianapolis 500. Three months later, Danny Milburn was killed in a                                                          –––––––             ger, raced for several months after
March 9, 1990                                                                       sprint-car crash in Phoenix. His parents still visit the Arizona man who                                                                             his death as a way ’’to stay in touch
A 1984 racing                 –––––––                                                                                                                                                                                                    with John.’’ Lindquist, a California
accident had left                                                                   received their son’s kidney.
Hughes, of Houston,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         firefighter, was known for restoring
paralyzed from the                                                                                                                                                                                                                       antique cars.
waist down. Driving
a specially designed
                                                  JAMES HARSH
                                                  28, spectator
                                                                                                                           1990-1993                                                                                                     MAY 8, 1993
car with hand                                     July 28, 1990
controls, he won the                              A car ran off Lorain
                                                  County (Ohio)
                                                                                                        SCOTT CZUB                                          JOVY MARCELO               STEVEN TROY ROUSE        FRED CLARKE                                       Fosburgh, a re-
state midget class                                                                                      26, spectator                                       27, driver                 19, driver
championship in                                   Speedway and into
                                                                                                                                                                                                                42, driver                                     tired steel worker
                         WILLIAM TERRY                                                                  July 19, 1991                                       May 15, 1992               Aug. 1, 1992             Oct. 4, 1992                                   from Valparaiso,
Texas in 1987, 1988                               the pits, killing                                     The track was a ref-                                Marcelo was trying         Rouse, son of a          An avid hunter and
and 1989. He was         36, driver               Harsh, from Elyria,                                   uge for Czub, a Mid-                                to become the first        NASCAR official,         fisherman, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ind., was talking
killed in a crash at     June 3, 1990             Ohio, and injuring                                                                                                                                                                                           with Lewis, his
                         Terry, a production                                                            lothian, Ill., man who                              driver from the Phil-      crashed when the         10-year driving vet-
Devil’s Bowl                                      four. His wife says                                   loved to help a friend                              ippines to make the        rear axle on his                                                        son-in-law, in the
                         worker at a truck                                                                                                                                                                      eran died at New
Speedway near                                     she lives on a farm                                   who was a driver,                                   Indianapolis 500           stock car broke dur-                                                    bleachers at Wis-
                         plant in Flint, Mich.,                                                                                                                                                                 Hampshire Interna-
Dallas.                                           bought with the                                       said his brother,                                   when he died in a          ing a race at his
                         was killed when his      proceeds of a
                                                                            JAMES SHANNON                                         KARA HENDRICK                                                                 tional Speedway          HILARY FOSBURGH       consin’s Red Ce-
     –––––––             car hit a wall on a      settlement from the
                                                                            FINLEY
                                                                            44, driver
                                                                                                        Ron. Czub died in
                                                                                                        the pit area at
                                                                                                                                  22, driver
                                                                                                                                  Oct. 5, 1991
                                                                                                                                                            crash during prac-
                                                                                                                                                            tice. The married fa-
                                                                                                                                                                                       hometown track,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Tucson (Ariz.) Race-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                when his high-speed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                kart spun and hit a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         62, spectator         dar Speedway
                         turn at Owosso           track. A $20 check                                    Grundy County (Ill.)                                ther of one had just       way Park. The car                                       –––––––         when both were
                         (Mich.) Speedway.                                  April 27, 1991                                        Hendrick, from                                                                wall. Clarke, from
JIM BROUK                                         Harsh won in a race
                                                                            Finley, a Navy              Speedway when a           Chino, Calif., set a      moved up to the top        flipped, and the im-     Chesapeake, Va.,                               hit by a muffler
35, driver               The track now has        hangs on her wall.                                                                                                                                                                     MARK LEWIS            that flew into the
                         an annual Will Terry                               veteran who lost            car hit him after sail-   track record in a         level of Indy cars.        pact broke Rouse’s       was ejected from
April 15, 1990                                                                                                                                                                                                                           32, spectator         stands. They
Brouk, a six-year        Memorial Race.                –––––––              part of his right leg       ing over a track wall.    qualifying heat, the
                                                                                                                                                                 –––––––
                                                                                                                                                                                       neck. His family or-     the kart during the
                                                                            in Vietnam, raced in                                  night her open-                                      ganizes a Troy           World Karting Asso-                            both died shortly
racing veteran from
                              –––––––             DAVID SANBORN             a car with a specially           –––––––              wheel midget car                                     Rouse Memorial           ciation event.           afterward. “The way (the muffler) hit
West Chicago, Ill.,                                                         designed                                              flipped and crashed                                  race every August.
died in an accident                               46, track staff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     –––––––             them, it looked like they were facing
                                                  Sept. 2, 1990             accelerator. The St.                                  into a wall at Cajon
at Indianapolis
                                                  Sanborn, from             Louis resident died                                   (Calif.) Speedway. In                                     –––––––                                      each other,” says Yvonne Krostag,
Raceway Park,
                                                  Placentia, Calif., was    in a five-car crash at                                1989, she had be-                                                                                      Fosburgh’s sister. “I don’t think they
according to a                                                              Tri-City Speedway in                                  come the third                                       BOB SHUPP                                         were aware of what happened.” Lew-
published report.                                 working as a
                                                  flagman during a          Granite City, Ill. He                                 woman to win a                                       51, driver                                        is, from Rice Lake, Wis., was survived
                                                                                                                                                                                       Aug. 7, 1992
     –––––––                                      sprint car race at        was to have been
                                                                            married less than
                                                                                                                                  USAC race. Her
                                                                                                                                  dream was to be-                                     Shupp lost a right
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         by a wife and daughter, who were
                                                  Ascot Park in                                                                                             GARY BATSON
                                                                                                                                                                                       front tire during a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         nearby in the bleachers.
                                                  Gardena, Calif.,          three weeks later.                                    come the first wom-       40, driver
TONY JANKOWIAK           BUTCH LINDLEY                                                                  J.D. MCDUFFIE                                                                  sprint car race at
                                                  when a car slid into                                                            an to win the Day-        May 16, 1992
29, driver
April 22, 1990
                         42, driver
                                                  him. He and his wife,          –––––––                52, driver
                                                                                                        Aug. 11, 1991
                                                                                                                                  tona 500.                 In his first race on a
                                                                                                                                                                                       Belleville (Kan.) High
                         June 6, 1990
                                                  Kathleen, were                                                                                            superspeedway,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Banks and rolled         TOM NAYLOR               SEPT. 5 AND 6, 1993
The North
Tonawanda, N.Y.,
                         Lindley’s car hit the
                                                  regulars at the track,    GARY NEICE
                                                                                                        McDuffie, from San-
                                                                                                        ford, N.C., died after
                                                                                                                                       –––––––              Batson died from
                                                                                                                                                                                       several times, ac-       36, driver
                         wall at Desoto (Fla.)                              36, driver                                                                                                 cording to a pub-        Oct. 17, 1992
                                                  now the site of a                                                                                         burns after a multi-
father of two broke
his neck when he
                         Speedway. His brain
                         stem was severed,        shopping center.          May 4, 1991
                                                                            Neice, from Candler,
                                                                                                        his car hit a wall and
                                                                                                        flipped at Watkins        1992                      car crash trapped
                                                                                                                                                                                       lished report. The
                                                                                                                                                                                       corporate manager
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Naylor, a Boise, Ida-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ho, native, died
struck a wall at                                                                                        Glen, N.Y. He never                                 him inside his burn-
Connecticut’s
                         but the Greenville,
                         S.C., resident lived
                                                       –––––––              N.C., had a heart
                                                                                                        won in 653 NASCAR         MARK KENT                 ing car at Charlotte
                                                                                                                                                                                       from Phoenix had         when his car hit the
                                                                            attack and crashed                                                                                         retired from racing      wall head-on at
Stafford Motor           five years in a coma                                                           races. He was buried      35, driver                (now Lowe’s) Motor                                  Mesa Marin (Calif.)
                                                                            into the third-turn                                                                                        but still raced one
Speedway.                at a nursing home.                                                             in a racing suit, a ci-   March 18, 1992            Speedway. Batson                                    Raceway. In Naylor’s
                                                                            wall during a Busch                                                                                        time each year at
Jankowiak met his        His family played                                                              gar cradled between       Kent’s BMW M-3            of Travelers Rest,                                  car was the same
                                                                            Series race at South                                                                                       the Kansas track.
wife, Debbie, while      music, tapes of his                                                            his fingers. “If you      veered off the road       S.C., ran The Feed                                  engine Billy Vukov-
                                                                            Boston (Va.)                                                                                                                                                 AMANDA DUTTON              JOSH DUTTON
working on the crew      two children’s                                     Speedway. A
                                                                                                        cut him,’’ the minis-     course at Sebring In-     Store restaurant.               –––––––             ich III had used         7, spectator               10, spectator
of her brother’s         voices and the                                                                 ter said at his funer-    ternational Raceway
racing team. Debbie      sound of cranking
                                                                            fund-raiser for his
                                                                                                        al, “he’d bleed Havo-     in Florida, then rolled
                                                                                                                                                                 –––––––                                        when he died prac-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ticing at the track in
                                                                            widow and infant                                                                                                                                                Amanda and her brother, Josh,
Jankowiak’s brother      engines to try to jolt                                                         line.’’ A lawsuit         before jumping over       GRAIG HINTON                                        1990. Naylor’s
                                                                            son was held in
died in a racing         him awake. He died       EBEN ’’JOHN’’             Hickory, where he
                                                                                                        against the track         a 12-foot fence and       50, driver                                          brother also died in a   were sitting with family members
accident 10 months       of pneumonia.            JOHNSON JR.                                           and NASCAR was            slamming into an          May 30, 1992                                        racing accident in       when a wheel came off a car and
                                                                            was a track
before her                                        27, driver                                            dismissed.                empty bus in the          Hinton’s 1960 Jag-                                  the 1980s.               sailed into the bleachers at the 81
                                                                            champion,
husband’s death.              –––––––             Nov. 14, 1990                                                                   spectator parking         uar rolled several
                                                  Johnson, from
                                                                            according to                     –––––––              area. No fans were        times after hitting                                      –––––––             Speedway in their hometown of
     –––––––                                      Kissimmee, Fla., died
                                                                            published reports.
                                                                                                                                  injured in the crash      another, smaller car
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Wichita, Kan. Amanda died five
                                                  when his car veered,           –––––––                                          involving the graphic     that had spun out at                                                         hours later; Josh died two days after
                                                  hit a guardrail and                                                             design firm owner         Moroso Motor-              CLIFFORD ALLISON                                  the accident, on his 10th birthday.
                                                  flipped, ejecting him                                                           from Hingham,             sports Park in Flori-      27, driver
                                                  at the Orlando                                                                  Mass.                     da. Hinton was a           Aug. 13, 1992
                                                  Speed World                                                                                               veteran racer from         A member of the fa-
                                                  Dragway. His sister,                                                                 –––––––              England who re-            mous stock car rac-
                                                  Pamela Chiarelli, had                                                                                     stored vintage cars        ing family of Huey-                               MICHAEL EUGENE             RON FILKINS
                         DUANE HOUART SR.         a videotape of the                                                              JOHN STEWART POTTS        in Delray, Fla. “He        town, Ala., Allison                               ROBINSON SR.               50, driver
                         41, driver               accident. ’’I kept                                    BETHANY WELLS             27, driver                thought all those          fractured his skull      JOHN TARTAGLIA           42, driver                 Aug. 1, 1993
LARRY LADUE              June 30, 1990            rewinding it to look                                  17, spectator             March 20, 1992            safety precautions         when his car hit a       38, driver               July 3, 1993               After previous heart
43, driver               Houart, an               for something,’’ she                                  Aug. 29, 1991             Potts, an auto me-        were a bunch of rub-       wall during practice     Nov. 2, 1992             Robinson, from Sci-        attacks, his cardiolo-
                                                                            CHRIS GEHRKE
May 14, 1990             electrician from         said.                                                 Wells, a high school      chanic, died when         bish, but he com-          at Michigan Interna-     Tartaglia had Hodg-      ence Hill, Ky., often      gist had warned Fil-
                                                                            25, driver
LaDue’s sprint car       Gary, Ind., was in a                                                           senior from Water-        his Monte Carlo hit a     plied because he           tional Speedway. His     kin’s disease but        worked 16-hour             kins of Alta Loma,
                                                                            May 7, 1991
spun out, landed on      last-lap accident at          –––––––              Gehrke, from                town, N.Y., was talk-     wall after he was         wanted to race,’’          brother, Winston         was in remission         days as a body re-         Calif., against drag
its side and was         Indiana’s Illiana                                                              ing to her father,        bumped during a           said his ex-wife,          Cup star Davey Alli-     when another drag-       pairman at a truck-        racing. But his son,
                                                  MIKE RICH                 Lincoln, Ill., died
struck by several        Motor Speedway.                                                                driver William Wells,     warmup at Orlando         Ann.                       son, died in a heli-     ster collided with his   ing company and at         Eric, said his father
                                                  32, crew                  three days after a
cars at Texas’ Devil’s   The roll cage bent in                                                          in a prerace area at      Speed World Speed-                                   copter accident al-      at New Hampshire’s       his own garage. He         won a race after ig-
                                                  Nov. 18, 1990             wreck at Talladega
Bowl Speedway. The       the collision and        Rich, from Blairsville,   (Ala.) Superspeed-          Can-Am Speedway           way in Florida. The            –––––––               most a year later.       New England Drag-        was racing a 1977          noring such advice.
Dallas auto parts        punctured his heart,                                                           in New York when a        Bithlo, Fla., resident                                                        way. The Tyngsboro,      Camaro that hit a          Filkins had a fatal
store owner had          according to his son.
                                                  Ga., was changing a
                                                  rear tire on Bill
                                                                            way. His mother,
                                                                            Kathie, was in the          wheel came through        got into racing after     JONEL BROSCANC                  –––––––             Mass., auto techni-      knee-high barrier          heart attack after a
started driving                                                                                         the pits. When she        watching his father       32, driver                 DOYLE TINDALL                                     and flipped at Burn-       drag run in his car
                         ’’That’s the way I       Elliott’s car during a    pits at the time. A                                                                                                                 cian took his family
dragsters at 18.                                                                                        stood up, she was         race. Potts’ son,         June 6, 1992               38, driver                                        side (Ky.) Raceway.        while driving to the
                         want to go, doing        Winston Cup race at       promising driver,                                                                                                                   to races across the
                                                                                                        struck in the head.       Johnny, 8, born after     Broscanc, from             Aug. 15, 1992                                                                garage at Califor-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                country and brought
     –––––––             something I love,’’
                         Duane Jr. said.
                                                  Atlanta Motor             Gehrke wrote a
                                                                                                                                  his father died, also     Glendale in Queens,        Tindall, a St. Cloud,    his car to area
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              –––––––               nia’s Sears Point
                                                  Speedway when a           story as a child
                                                  spinning car struck       about his love for
                                                                                                             –––––––              wants to race.            N.Y., died when the        Fla., mechanic, died     schools.                 EDWARD MANESS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Raceway.
                              –––––––             him. His death            racing.
                                                                                                                                                            Audi he was driving        after his dragster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         –––––––
                                                  helped lead to speed
                                                                                                        MITCHELL MORTON                –––––––              on a road course slid      veered into the               –––––––             51, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         July 11, 1993
                                                                                                        35, driver                                          off a sharp curve
                         CHARLES ROBERT           limits for cars on pit         –––––––                Sept. 7, 1991                                       along a remote for-
                                                                                                                                                                                       guardrail at U.S. 19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Maness had a heart
                         WHITE                                                                                                                                                         Dragway in Albany,
                         51, driver
                                                  road.
                                                                            RANDY MILLER
                                                                                                        Morton, a 15-year
                                                                                                        racing veteran, died
                                                                                                                                                            est road near Wells-
                                                                                                                                                            boro, Pa. The car hit
                                                                                                                                                                                       Ga. Tindall and his      1993                     attack and smacked
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         into a wall at Illinois’
                         July 1, 1990                  –––––––              33, driver
                                                                                                        when his dragster                                   a tree on the driver’s
                                                                                                                                                                                       twin brother, Dale,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Sante Fe Speedway,
                         White, of Barberton,                               May 11, 1991                                                                                               had been racing
                                                  BILLY VUKOVICH III                                    failed to stop at the                               side.                                                                        say legal docu-
                         Ohio, died when his                                Authorities were un-                                                                                       since age 17.
DAVID GAINES                                      27, driver                                            end of a run and                                                                                                                 ments. His wife
                         car went out of
27, driver
                         control and crashed      Nov. 25, 1990
                                                                            sure if Miller, of Na-
                                                                            perville, Ill., had a fa-
                                                                                                        struck a guardrail at                                    –––––––                    –––––––                                      sued the track and
May 16, 1990                                      Vukovich, from                                        Sumerduck Drag-                                     HAL SCHUSTER                                                                 NASCAR, claiming
                         into a pond at the                                 tal heart attack be-                                                                                       CARL MCCORMICK
Gaines was a                                      Coarsegold, Calif.,                                   way near Culpeper,        BILL STALEY               49, driver                                                                   medical help was
                         Cloverleaf                                         fore or after his                                                                                          58, track staff                                                              RENE BOURGOIS
Goldston, N.C.,                                   died while practicing                                 Va., published re-        39, driver                June 6, 1992                                                                 not dispatched to
                         Speedway in                                        crash during a                                                                                             Sept. 12, 1992                                                               34, crew
engineer known for                                for a sprint car race                                 ports said. The War-      April 25, 1992            Schuster, a Vietnam                                                          Maness until the
                         Cuyahoga County,                                   NASCAR event at                                                                                            McCormick, a real                                                            Sept. 18, 1993
innovative engine                                 at Mesa Marin                                         renton, Va., me-          A noted drag racing       veteran who sold                                                             end of the next race.
                         Ohio. According to                                 the now-defunct                                                                                            estate agent from        JOE BOOHER                                          Standing behind a
designs. He died                                  (Calif.) Raceway. He                                  chanic left behind a      engine builder from       transmissions, pull-                                                         A judge dismissed
                         published reports,                                 Sante Fe Speedway                                                                                          Fairfield, Ohio and a    51, driver                                          fence at the Stock-
when his car was                                  competed in three                                     wife and two sons.        Houston, Staley died      ed his car off the                                                           the suit because her
                         the coroner said he                                in Illinois, according                                                                                     20-year race worker      Feb. 12, 1993                                       ton 99 Speedway in
struck by another in                              Indianapolis 500s.                                                              when his dragster         track during a stock                                                         husband signed a
                         died of a heart
a race for drivers
                         attack before his car    His grandfather, Bill
                                                                            to published reports.            –––––––              veered off the track      car race at Cajon
                                                                                                                                                                                       for the U.S. Auto
                                                                                                                                                                                       Club, was working
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Booher, an Indiana       waiver releasing           California with other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    crew members,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                farmer, trucker and
trying to gain
experience on large
                         hit the water.           Vukovich, died in              –––––––                WILLIAM RITTER            and struck a con-         Speedway near San          as a pit steward and     racing veteran, died
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         NASCAR and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         track owner from li-       Bourgois was struck
                                                  1955 trying to win                                    42, driver                crete light pole at       Diego and collapsed        cleaning up a spin-                                                          by a car that
tracks at Charlotte           –––––––             his third straight                                    Sept. 14, 1991            the Texas Motorplex       in the pits, track offi-   out at the Indiana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                after a three-car
                                                                                                                                                                                                                crash in a minor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ability.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    crashed over a barri-
(now Lowe’s) Motor                                Indy 500.
Speedway. His            RICH VOGLER
                                                                                                        Ritter, from Nankin,      near Dallas. Soon af-
                                                                                                                                  ter spreading his fa-
                                                                                                                                                            cials and published
                                                                                                                                                            reports said.
                                                                                                                                                                                       State Fairgrounds        league NASCAR race            –––––––               er. Another 21 peo-
                                                                                                                                                                                       when another car hit                                                         ple were injured. The
father, Jerry, left      39, driver                    –––––––                                          Ohio, had wanted to
                                                                                                        replace wheel parts       ther’s ashes over the                                him.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                at Daytona Interna-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Modesto, Calif., auto
David’s room             July 21, 1990                                                                  on his vintage midg-      start line of a Hous-          –––––––                                        tional Speedway. He
                                                                                                                                                                                                                had named his son,                                  repair shop owner
untouched for 10                                                                                                                                                                            –––––––
years.
                         Vogler, a five-time
                         national midget-car      1991                                                  et car but couldn’t
                                                                                                        afford it, relatives
                                                                                                                                  ton track, Staley’s
                                                                                                                                  son took a drag-rac-
                                                                                                                                                                                       TIMOTHY GRAHAM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                A.J. Booher, after
                                                                                                                                                                                                                friend and driving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    had stopped driving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    race cars himself af-
                         champion and
     –––––––             two-time sprint-car
                                                                                                        said. The car lost a      ing course in his
                                                                                                                                  honor.                                               32, spectator            legend A.J. Foyt.                                   ter a fiery crash in
                                                                            STEVE HAKE                  wheel as it crossed                                                            Sept. 22, 1992                                                               1991.
                         champion, died at                                  36, driver                  the finish line at
                                                                                                                                       –––––––                                                                       –––––––
                         Salem (Ind.)                                       June 5, 1991                Ohio’s Buckeye
                                                                                                                                                                                       Graham, from Thax-
                                                                                                                                                                                       ton, Miss., was sit-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         –––––––
                         Speedway when his                                  Hake’s car went air-        Speedway and                                                                                            JAY ALAN LUECKE          DAVID KUHN
                         car touched another                                                                                                                                           ting on the tailgate
                                                                            borne and struck a          flipped. Ritter’s son,                                                                                  33, driver               50, driver                 SONIA RUPP
                         and careened into a                                                                                                                                           of his pickup truck
                                                                            scoreboard at Ida-          B.J., is restoring the                                                                                  March 20, 1993           July 25, 1993              29, spectator
                         wall just before the                                                                                                               SONNY IRWIN                with friends near the
                                                                            ho’s Meridian               car.                                                                                                    Luecke, an auto          Kuhn, a Massachu-          Oct. 22, 1993
                         final lap. An Illinois                                                                                                             51, driver                 finish line of the
                                                  DANNY MILBURN             Speedway after                                                                                                                      body repairman           setts public televi-       The mother of two
                                                                                                                                                            July 11, 1992              Pooleville Race Track
                         native who lost his      41, driver                slamming into a bar-             –––––––                                        A self-employed            in Mississippi, said
                                                                                                                                                                                                                from Pinellas            sion journalist who        was killed at Volusia
                         father in a 1981         Feb. 2, 1991              rier, according to his                                                                                                              County, Fla., died of    raced vintage En-          County (Fla.) Speed-
A.J. MICHAELS            crash during                                                                                                                       construction worker        his mother, Alta. A
                                                  Milburn was a few         father, Donald. The         OSCAR HARVEY LUBKE                                                                                      a heart attack after     glish cars for a           way when a car
32, driver               practice, Vogler was                                                                                                               from Tucson, Ariz.,        car in a drag race
                                                  months away from          auto parts salesman         47, driver                                                                                              a practice run at        hobby, died on a           vaulted over a
May 19, 1990             posthumously                                                                                             TERRY HERMAN              Irwin died of a head       came off the track,
                                                  taking over the           from Boise died two         Sept. 28, 1991                                                                                          Sunshine Speedway        Schenley Park,             guardrail and into
Chasing his dream        awarded the race                                                                                         47, driver                injury when his            and his friends dove
                                                  family’s garage-door      weeks after the             Lubke, from Con-                                                                                        in Florida. He’d had     Penn., road course         the pits where she
to become an Indy        victory.                                                                                                 May 10, 1992              sprint car slid off the    away. Graham was
                                                  business in               birth of his first          cord, N.C., died at                                                                                     small heart attacks      after his sports car       stood with specta-
car driver, the                                                                                                                   Herman, a Las Ve-         dirt track and into a      struck and killed.
                                                  Indianapolis when         child.                      Mooresville Drag-                                                                                       and mentioned to         veered off the road        tors. Her family re-
Liverpool, N.Y.,                                                                                                                  gas driving school        wall at Manzanita
                                                  he collided with                                      way after his drag-                                                                                     friends he was hav-      and pinned him             ceived no settle-
mechanical                                                                                                                        owner, crashed trav-      Speedway in Phoe-
                                                  another sprint car                                    ster struck a guard-                                                                                    ing chest pains days     against a tree.            ment because she
engineer died when                                                                                                                eling more than 200       nix. Irwin was an
                                                  and slammed into                                      rail. Part of the                                                                                       earlier.                                            had signed a waiver
his car spun and hit                                                                                                              mph during the Ne-        outdoorsman who
                                                  the wall at Phoenix                                   guardrail came                                                                                                                                              to be in the pits. “We
a wall backward at                                                                                                                vada Open Road            didn’t lavish money
                                                  International                                         through the wind-                                                                                                                                           all miss her every
Oswego (N.Y.)                                                                                                                     Challenge, at which       on anything but his
                                                  Raceway. His                                          shield and hit                                                                                                                                              day,’’ says husband
Speedway. His                                                                                                                     cars compete on           race car, his family
                                                  parents occasionally                                  Lubke’s head. Lubke,                                                                                                                                        Tom, a Jacksonville,
sister, Lori, says                                                                                                                closed public roads.      said.
                                                  visit the Arizona                                     who worked as a                                                                                                                                             Fla., plumber.
she’s become a Jeff                                                                                     loan manager, was         His ex-wife said he
                                                  man who received                                                                had not planned to
Gordon fan because                                                                                      drafted by the NFL’s
                                                  Milburn’s donated                                                               drive that day, but
he reminds her of                                                                                       New York Jets in
                                                  kidney.                                                                         he got a last-minute
her brother.                                                                                            1968, but a concus-
                                                                                                                                  call with an offer to                                                                                                             NOTE: Photos were
                                                                                                        sion forced him to                                                                                                                                          not available for
                                                                                                        quit the team.            race a souped-up
                                                                                                                                  Porsche.                                                                                                                          some victims.



                                                                                   S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1               6N      T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                               DEATH AT
1993                     ROSEMARY TINDALL
                         41, crew
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    CHRISTOPHER HODGE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4, spectator               1997
                         March 22, 1994                                                                                                                                                                                             Sept. 23, 1996             MICHAEL HIMES
                         Acting as the                                                                                                                                                                                              Christopher, from          42, driver
                         co-driver in her                                                                                                                                                                                           Janesville, Wis., was      Jan. 31, 1997
                         boyfriend’s race car,                                                                                                                                                                                      on a weekend




                                                                              THE TRACK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Himes, from Los
                         Tindall died when it                                                                                                                                                                                       outing of camping          Gatos, Calif., died
                         swerved off a forest                                                                                                                                                                                       and auto races with        after his car
                         course near               DAVE INNES                                                                                                                                              EDGAR LANDRUM            his father, Aaron,         slammed head-first
                         Olympia, Wash., and       60, track staff                                                                                                                                         71, spectator            when a stock car hit       into a wall at
                         hit a tree. A friend      June 18, 1994                                                                                                                                           June 22, 1996            a tire assembly that       Daytona
FRANK PRESUTTI SR.       said Tindall, a           Innes, a tour bus                                                                                                                                       Landrum, from            had come off
49, driver                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     International
                         Seattle resident who      driver and veteran                                                                                                                                      Hubbard, Texas, was      another car at             Speedway. He had
Oct. 24, 1993            retired from the Air      flagman from                                                                                                                                            helping his son load     Rockford (Ill.)
The Beverly, Mass.,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            just sold a
                         Force, was noted for      Berkeley Township,                                                                                                                                      his race car for         Speedway. The tire         semiconductor
plumber was a year       her resolve: She          N.J., died after he              Even in death, racing can be a family pursuit. Rebel Jackson Sr. was killed                                            home when a tire         assembly sailed into
into a racing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  company and
                         hated to fly but          was hit by an                    when his car hit a wall at Portland (Ore.) Speedway in 1994. Rebel Jr., who                                            flew through the pit     the stands. Aaron          retired.
comeback after a         overcame it by            airborne race car at                                                                                                                                    area and struck him      Hodge suffered a
10-year absence          getting a pilot’s         Wall Stadium in                  also was in the 22-car field, finished the race. Two years later, Jeff Edwards                                         at Thunderbird           broken leg.                     –––––––
when his car hit a       license.                  New Jersey.                                                                                                                                             (Texas) Speedway.        Christopher died
retaining wall at Lee                                                               died after a midget car crash in Idaho; his son, 12-year-old Cameron, is                                               Landrum, a retired       two days later.            LOUIS EDMONDS
USA Speedway in               –––––––                   –––––––                     starting now to race go-karts. Ron Landrum quit racing, however, after his                                             trucker and                                         46, driver
New Hampshire.           PAUL REISDORFER                                                                                                                                                                   mechanic who had a            –––––––               March 9, 1997
                                                                                    father, Edgar, was killed in 1996 by a tire flying through the pits of a Texas                                                                                             Edmonds, a veteran
     –––––––             33, track staff                                                                                                                                                                   1992 heart bypass,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               drag racer from
                         May 14, 1994                                               speedway. Edgar Landrum, 71, was helping his son load his race car for                                                 had told his son that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Hopewell, Va., died
                         Reisdorfer, a                                                                                                                                                                     night: “I feel better
                                                                                    home.                                                                                                                  now than I have in                                  after he was ejected
1994                     mechanic and track
                         worker from Sioux                                                                                                                                                                 years.”                                             from his car, which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               flipped at Richmond
                         Falls, S.D., was killed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                –––––––
RON DEES
49, driver
                         during warm up laps
                         at Red Devil
                                                                                                                        1993-1997                                                                                                                              (Va.) Dragway.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Daughter Michelle
Jan. 15, 1994            Speedway near                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Edmonds Frazier,
                                                   NEWMAN PEERY                                                                                                                                                                     FRANK FILSKOV              28, oldest of three,
                         Hartford, S.D., when
Dees died when his
car slammed into a       a car ran off the
                                                   50, driver
                                                   June 18, 1994
                                                                                                      RAY HANNAH
                                                                                                      34, driver                                                                  1996                                              44, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oct. 12, 1996
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               races in her father’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               memory. Shannon,
wall during a solo       track. Another track      A high school shop                                 Sept. 25, 1994                                                                                                                Filskov, a veteran
run at the Sears         worker was injured.                                                                                                                                      MIKE COOKE                                                                   19, works the
                                                   teacher and auto                                   A machinist and                                                                                                               driver from                Richmond Dragway
Point Raceway drag                                                                                                                                                                49, driver
                                                   parts store owner                                                                                                                                                                Hawthorne Woods,
strip in California,          –––––––              from Lomita, Calif.,
                                                                                                      father of three from
                                                                                                      West Chester, Ohio,
                                                                                                                                                                                  Feb. 3, 1996
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ill., collided with a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               clock.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Cooke, from Gilbert,
according to
published reports.
                                                   “Mack” Peery was                                   Hannah died in a                                                            Ariz., was killed        PERRY YOUNCE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    car that had                    –––––––
                                                   semi-retired from                                  race at Salem (Ind.)                                                                                                          wrecked ahead of
The Napa, Calif.,                                                                                                                                                                 when his car struck      35, driver
                                                   drag racing when he      RON BIELLIER              Speedway when his        MICHAEL DAVID            GARY MITCHELL                                                               him at Michigan’s
resident suffered                                                                                                                                                                 a wall during            Aug. 3, 1996
                                                   drove his ’81            45, driver                car clipped another      BAKER                    52, spectator                                                               Hartford Speedway
severe head injuries,                                                                                                                                                             qualifying for a         Younce, from
                                                   Camaro at                July 15, 1994             and slammed into a       37, spectator            Aug. 19, 1995                                                               Park. “It’s not just
officials said.                                                                                                                                                                   NASCAR Southwest         Canton, Mich., died
                                                   Brotherhood              Biellier, from Willard,   guardrail connected      July 22, 1995            Mitchell, a retired                                                         the big guys,” said
                                                                                                                                                                                  Tour race at Phoenix     when his midget car
                                                   Raceway in San                                     to an outside                                                                                                                 his sister, Donna.
     –––––––                                       Pedro, Calif. His
                                                                            Mo., was racing for
                                                                            the first time since a    concrete wall.
                                                                                                                               Baker, a
                                                                                                                               construction worker
                                                                                                                                                        iron worker from
                                                                                                                                                        Appleton, Maine,
                                                                                                                                                                                  International            crashed into the wall    “There’s a lot of little
                                                                                                                                                                                  Raceway. The race        at Michigan Ideal
LARRY SMITH              JIMMY NIX                 braking parachute        heart attack one          Hannah’s car bent        from Sabetha, Kan.,      was sitting in                                                              guys out there. Why
                                                                                                                                                                                  was to be his last       Speedway. Younce
39, spectator            55, driver                failed to open,          year earlier. During a    the rail back, and the   died walking to a        bleachers at nearby                                                         is it that only the
                                                                                                                                                                                  before he retired        was a promising
Jan. 29, 1994            May 21, 1994              sending the car into     caution at Missouri’s     driver’s side hit        concession stand at      Unity Raceway                                                               famous people get          JOHN NEMECHEK
                                                                                                                                                                                  from driving to          driver, said his
Smith, from              Nix, known as “The        a concrete wall at       Speedway U.S.A.,          exposed concrete.        I-30 Speedway in         when he was hit by                                                          noticed?”                  27, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                  spend more time          father, Clyde, who
Fountaintown, Ind.,      Smiling Okie,” was        about 150 mph.           Biellier had another                               North Little Rock,       a tire and rim that
died at the              finishing a drag race                              heart attack, this             –––––––             Ark., when a tire        came off a stock car.
                                                                                                                                                                                  with his children and    helped his son race.          –––––––               March 21, 1997

then-Hoosier Dome        at the Texas                   –––––––             one fatal.                                         from a track             Two fans were
                                                                                                                                                                                  grandchildren.           Clyde Younce rebuilt                                Nemechek, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               brother of Winston
in Indianapolis when     Motorplex in Ennis                                                           GEORGE MOECKEL           accident struck him      injured in similar             –––––––             his son’s car after
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Cup driver Joe
a midget car plowed      when his car shot                                       –––––––              48, driver               on the head. His         incidents the                                      the crash and sold it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Nemechek, died
                         over a railing and                                                           Oct. 30, 1994            wife, Cynthia, still     previous two years.
into a pit area. Seven
others were injured.     into a pole that held                                                        Moeckel’s dragster       attends races. “He       The track has not
                                                                                                                                                                                  ROBERT PICKERING              –––––––                                        from head injuries
                                                                                                                                                                                  27, spectator                                                                when his truck hit
Smith’s widow lost a     up a track video                                                             rolled several times     would still have         made changes in           March 23, 1996                                                               the wall at
lawsuit against the      screen. The                                                                  and struck a barrier     been going if it had     response, a track         Pickering, a racing                                                          Homestead (Fla.)
United States Auto       Oklahoma City                                                                at New England           happened to me,”         official said.            enthusiast from                                                              Metro-Dade
Club when an             resident had been                                                            Dragway in Epping,       she said.                                          Duncanville, Texas,                                                          Motorsports
appeals court            racing since the                                                             N.H., according to a                                   –––––––              was helping a driver                              CHUCK SILVA                Complex. The
upheld the liability     1950s.                    PAUL GROSSO                                        published report.             –––––––             KEN SCHALTENBRAND         friend change a tire                              44, track staff            Lakeland, Fla., native
waiver Smith signed                                67, driver                                         The North Andover,                                47, driver                outside turns 3 and                               Oct. 13, 1996
before the race.              –––––––              June 19, 1994
                                                                            CHARLES “RAYME”
                                                                            JOHNSON                   Mass., mechanic                                   Aug. 19, 1995             4 at Devil’s Bowl                                 Silva, a track worker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               was the first driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               killed in a NASCAR
                                                   Grosso, from Van         30, driver                had four children.                                Schaltenbrand, from       (Texas) Speedway                                  at Bandimere               truck race.
     –––––––             ROBBIE STANLEY
                                                   Nuys, Calif., died                                                                                   Sarver, Pa., was          when a sprint car        JEFF EDWARDS             Speedway in
                         26, driver
                                                   when he hit a stalled
                                                                            July 22, 1994
                                                                            Less than a week
                                                                                                           –––––––                                      fatally injured when      tumbled off the          34, driver               Colorado, bent over             –––––––
                         May 26, 1994                                                                                                                                                                      Aug. 17, 1996            to pick up debris on
                                                   car and flipped                                                                                      his car rolled over in    track and killed him,
                         Stanley’s car was hit
                         by two others and
                                                   during a
                                                                            after the birth of his
                                                                            first child, Johnson      1995                                              the first turn at         according to his         Edwards, a one-time
                                                                                                                                                                                                           kart driver and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the dragstrip when a       TOM BOUNE
                                                   demonstration race       died when his race                                                          Challenger Raceway        mother. Three                                     dragster backed            33, driver
                         went out of control                                                                                                                                                               former president of      over him, track
                                                   at Saugus (Calif.)       car went airborne         NINA MARIE MCINNES       MICHAEL CLORE            outside Jacksonville,     others were injured.                                                         April 5, 1997
                         at Winchester (Ind.)                                                                                                                                                              the Idaho Midget         officials said. From
                                                   Speedway.                and landed upside         39, driver               42, driver               Pa., track officials                                                                                   Boune, of Rio Linda,
                         Speedway. Stanley,
                                                                            down on a wall at         March 5, 1995            July 22, 1995            said. It was the first         –––––––             Racing Association,      Littleton, Colo., he       Calif., died after
                         who was engaged,
                         was seeking his
                                                        –––––––             Speedway U.S.A. in        McInnes, an office       Clore owned a            time he had driven                                 crashed at Magic         left a wife and two        hitting a wall
NEIL BONNETT                                                                                                                                            at Challenger.            DAVID BERGMAN            Valley (Idaho)           daughters, both of
                         fourth straight USAC                               Bolivar, Mo.              manager and              muffler business in                                                                                                             head-on at Madera
47, driver                                         REBEL JACKSON SR.                                                                                                              48, driver               Speedway. The race       whom worked at
                                                                            Johnson, from             mother of two from       Madison, Va. He was                                                                                                             (Calif.) Speedway.
Feb. 11, 1994
                         sprint-car
                         championship. He
                                                   62, driver               Miller, Mo., earned       Lodi, Calif., died at    killed when his car
                                                                                                                                                             –––––––              May 3, 1996              was his first in a       the track. The             His father,
Bonnett was trying                                 June 25, 1994                                                                                                                  Bergman, from            midget car. His          speedway erected a
                         had just moved from                                the nickname              Sacramento (Calif.)      veered at                                                                                                                       grandfather and
to continue a                                      A 35-year racing                                                                                                               Greensboro, was          12-year-old son          memorial to him.
                         Indiana to Concord,                                “Rollover Rayme”          Raceway Park when        Winchester (Va.)                                                                                                                uncle all raced
comeback after a                                   veteran from Burien,                                                                                                           climbing out of his      Cameron is starting
                                                                            after a rough rookie                                                                                                                                                               midget cars.
racing accident in
                         N.C., a hub of stock      Wash., Jackson was       season during which
                                                                                                      her dragster flipped
                                                                                                      after a tire blowout.
                                                                                                                               Speedway and
                                                                                                                               collided with
                                                                                                                                                                                  car after placing        to race karts now.            –––––––
1990 left him with
                         car racing, to pursue
                         a NASCAR career.
                                                   killed at Portland       he often crashed,         Her brother, driver      another. Drivers
                                                                                                                                                                                  fifth in a stock car
                                                                                                                                                                                                                –––––––                                             –––––––
temporary amnesia.                                 (Ore.) Speedway          said his cousin.                                                                                      race at Ace                                       LINDSEY MAYDEN
                                                                                                      Dennis Paz, had          voted against
                                                                                                                                                                                  Speedway in
The Hueytown, Ala.,           –––––––              when his car slid                                  introduced her to        completing the race,                                                                                 7, spectator               JEFF KRUG
native died in a                                   and crashed into the          –––––––              racing.                  published reports
                                                                                                                                                                                  Altamahaw, N.C.,                                  Oct. 13, 1996              40, driver
crash in practice for                              wall. Jackson’s son,                                                                                                           when he collapsed                                 Lindsey, from              April 20, 1997
                         RON BENKER                                         JERRY SIDES                                        said.                    RUSSELL PHILLIPS
the Daytona 500.         37, driver                Rebel Jr., also was in   54, driver                     –––––––                                      26, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                  and died in the pits                              Sellersburg, Ind.,         Krug, a construction
Other racers said        May 27, 1994              the 22-car field. He     Aug. 8, 1994              MIKE HOLMAN
                                                                                                                                    –––––––             Oct. 6, 1995
                                                                                                                                                                                  of a heart attack, his                            was walking with           company executive
they had asked                                     continued to run and                                                                                                           second. He often put                              her mother, Dawn,          from Venice, Calif.,
                         Benker, from Alden,                                Sides, from North         44, track staff                                   A Mint Hill firefighter   in 18-hour days at
Bonnett not to drive                               won the race.                                                               JAMES ASHE                                                                                           to an infield              died when his
                         N.Y., was excited                                  Richland Hills, Texas,    May 3, 1995                                       and youth Sunday          the track or garage,
again after a wreck                                                                                                            62, driver                                                                                           concession stand at        dragster lost
at Talladega in 1993.
                         about his debut at
                         Apple Valley
                                                        –––––––             crashed through an
                                                                            embankment after
                                                                                                      Holman, a longtime       Aug. 12, 1995
                                                                                                                                                        school teacher,
                                                                                                                                                        Phillips was the third
                                                                                                                                                                                  said his son, Johnny.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           BLAINE JOHNSON           Salem Speedway in          traction and flipped
                                                                                                      flagman at Fremont       Ashe died of a heart                                                                                 Indiana when she
     –––––––             Speedway in New           MARK ROSE                crossing the finish       (Ohio) Speedway,         attack while
                                                                                                                                                        driver killed in seven         –––––––             34, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    was struck by a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               over the guardrail at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Bakersfield
                         York and ignored          30, journalist           line at Texas             died when a car hit                               years at Charlotte                                 Aug. 31, 1996
                                                                                                                               competing in a                                                                                       wheel that came off        Speedway. His
                         chest pains two           June 25, 1994            Raceway in                his flagstand. State                              (now Lowe’s) Motor                                 Johnson’s car blew a
                                                                                                                               charity race with                                                                                    a car on the track.        brother said Krug
                         days before, fearing      Rose, from Newhall,      Kennedale and flew        police briefly closed                             Speedway, in a race                                tire and crashed into
                                                                                                                               local legendary                                                                                      Her father, Jeff, was      was profoundly
                         a doctor wouldn’t let     Calif., and the          into the trees. He        a highway to                                      for drivers trying to                              a wall during
                                                                                                                               drivers at Riverside                                                                                 helping his brother,       affected by the
                         him race, his sister      publisher of             died two days later       accommodate his                                   gain experience on                                 qualifying at
                                                                                                                               Park Speedway in                                                                                     Pete, in the race.         death of Blaine
                         said. A husband and       Off-Road Magazine,       –the second driver        100-car funeral                                   large tracks. After                                Indianapolis
                                                                                                                               Massachusetts. The                                                                                                              Johnson the year
                         father of twin
                         7-year-old girls,
                                                   was reporting a
                                                   story as a passenger
                                                                            killed at the track in
                                                                            three months.
                                                                                                      procession.              Prospect, Mass.,
                                                                                                                                                        his death, NASCAR’s
                                                                                                                                                        Sportsman races
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Raceway Park.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Johnson, from Santa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         –––––––               before at the 1996
                                                                                                                               construction
                         Benker was pulling        in the Brush Run 101
                                                                                 –––––––                   –––––––             business owner
                                                                                                                                                        ceased.                                            Maria, Calif., was       ROBERT SWARTZ              U.S. Nationals race,
                         off his firesuit after    truck race in                                                                                                                  SCOTT BRAYTON            leading one of drag      50, driver                 which Krug won.
RODNEY ORR               the race and went         Crandon, Wis. A
                                                                                                      MARK GLECKL              raced by the name             –––––––              36, driver               racing’s top
33, driver               into cardiac arrest.      truck passed the         DON MARSH                 40, journalist           of “Jim Cash.” He fell
                                                                                                                                                                                  May 17, 1996             divisions. He had
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oct. 20, 1996
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Swartz, a mechanic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    –––––––
Feb. 14, 1994                                                               36, driver                June 30, 1995            in love with racing
                                                   one he was riding in,                                                                                                          Brayton, from            just completed a         and father of three
Orr’s car flipped and         –––––––              and the two collided.    Aug. 13, 1994             Gleckl, from Dana
                                                                                                      Point, Calif., was
                                                                                                                               when he started
                                                                                                                                                                                  Coldwater, Mich.,        track-record             from Waverly, Iowa,
hit a wall during                                                           About a year after                                 driving in the early
                                                   The driver of Rose’s                               working as an ESPN                                                          had won the pole for     qualifying run.          died when his car
practice for his first                                                      he began driving                                   ’50s. Ashe had
                                                   truck had a broken                                                                                                             the                                               veered off Cedar
Daytona 500. Orr,                                  arm.                     jet-powered cars,         cameraman at an
                                                                                                      off-road California
                                                                                                                               retired from racing
                                                                                                                                                                                  USAC-sanctioned               –––––––             Falls (Iowa)
originally from                                                             the Webster, Mass.,                                in 1978.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Indianapolis 500 for                              Raceway and rolled
Robbinsville, N.C.,                                     –––––––             racer slammed into        race when drivers
                                                                                                      bumped, sending               –––––––                                       the second straight
                                                                                                                                                                                                           R.C. “ROD” MATHIS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    over a guardrail.
died the day driver                                                         a concrete wall in his                                                                                                         49, driver
                                                                            just-purchased            one car through a                                                           year when a tire                                  Swartz’s daughter
Neil Bonnett was                                   GENE VECCHIO                                                                RANDY NIESE              HARRY KOURAFAS JR.                                 Sept. 14, 1996                                      JIM PAGEL
                                                                            vehicle during an         fence and killing                                                           deflated during a                                 got married the
buried.                                            44, driver                                                                  37, driver               21, driver                                         Mathis, a retired Las                               42, driver
                                                                            exhibition at Virginia    him. Gleckl’s family                                                        practice lap, sending                             following week, with
                                                   July 3, 1994                                                                Aug. 12, 1995            Oct. 15, 1995                                      Vegas police officer,                               May 2, 1997
     –––––––             WAYNE MCCARTHY
                         42, driver                Medical personnel        Motorsports Park in       won a settlement         Niese, a Chicago         Kourafas, a cook
                                                                                                                                                                                  his car into a wall at
                                                                                                                                                                                                           died one day after       his widow giving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Rescuers needed an
                                                                            Petersburg, Va.           against one of the                                                          230 mph. “Being                                   away the bride.
THOMAS SHAW              June 5, 1994              at the Southern                                                             businessman who          from Randolph,                                     Las Vegas Motor                                     hour to extract
                                                                                                      drivers and used the                                                        killed racing wasn’t
35, driver               McCarthy was              Oregon Dragway
                                                                                 –––––––              money to set up a
                                                                                                                               raced as a hobby,        Mass., was driving in     a concern of
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Speedway opened,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           when his car hit the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         –––––––               Pagel, a
Feb. 27, 1994            dueling for the lead      determined Vecchio,                                                         died in a five-car       his second race and       Scott’s,” said his                                                           construction
                                                   from Novato, Calif.,                               fund for Gleckl’s        wreck at Road            was killed in a crash                              wall along the fourth
Shaw, a TWA              in a stock car heat at                                                                                                                                   wife, Becky, at the                                                          engineer from
                                                   likely blacked out                                 then 5-year-old son,     America in Elkhart       at Thompson                                        turn. Mathis was
mechanic from            Speedway U.S.A. in                                                                                                                                       time.                                                                        Appleton, Wis., from
                                                   due to G-forces                                    Anthony, and             Lake, Wis.               (Conn.) International                              driving in a road race
Bayside, N.Y., had       Bolivar, Mo., when                                                                                                                                                                                                                    his stock car after a
                                                                                                      18-month-old
raced high-powered       his car spun and          resulting from his
                                                                                                      daughter, Amy.                –––––––
                                                                                                                                                        Speedway. “I felt              –––––––             that was run both                                   qualifying accident
karts for more than      slammed into a            jet-powered car                                                                                      (racing) was the                                   on the speedway                                     at Wisconsin
                                                                                                                                                                                                           and in the infield.
12 years when he         concrete wall. The        traveling more than
                                                   200 mph. Vecchio, a
                                                                                                           –––––––             JOHNNY RAY JOHNSON
                                                                                                                                                        safest sport,” said
                                                                                                                                                        his mother, Marjorie.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               International
crashed into a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Raceway in
concrete wall during
                         drilling contractor
                         from Tahlequah,           husband and father                                                          39, spectator            “I wouldn’t let him                                     –––––––                                        Kaukauna. He died a
practice on a Miami                                of two sons under 4      BILLY JOE PRESSLEY                                 Aug. 19, 1995            play football                                                               VICKIE LYNN FOSTER         few hours after the
                         Okla., loved the thrill
street course.                                     at the time, crashed     43, driver                                         Johnson, a roofing       because I thought it                                                        36, spectator              accident. A
                         of racing, said his
                                                   into a tree 200 feet     Sept. 24, 1994                                     contractor from          was too dangerous.”                                                         Nov. 10, 1996              memorial fund
                         brother, Donnie, also
     –––––––             a driver.                 beyond the track.        A minister and                                     Springfield, Tenn.,                                                                                  Foster, from               raised more than
                                                                            cousin of NASCAR                                   was a spectator in            –––––––                                                                Chancellorsville, Va.,     $6,000 for his
                              –––––––                   –––––––             driver Robert                                      the bleachers at                                   RANDY STICKLEY                                    was hit by an              church.
                                                                            Pressley, he died                                  Tennessee’s Duck                                   34, driver                                        out-of-control
                                                                            after his car hit two     DANNY YOUNG              River Speedway                                     May 18, 1996                                      dragster after trying           –––––––
                                                                            walls and a car at        25, driver               when a car on the                                  Stickley, from                                    to shove her
                                                                                                                                                                                                           FRANK OLOSKI
                                                                            New Asheville             July 19, 1995            track hit a wheel                                  Fairmont, W.Va.,                                  husband and
                                                                                                                                                                                                           52, driver
                                                                            Speedway. He left         Young, from Des          that had come off in                               died when his                                     5-year-old son from
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sept. 15, 1996
                                                                            four kids, a wife and     Moines, Iowa, made       an accident. The                                   dragster flipped                                  harm’s way at
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Oloski, a
                                                                            a congregation in a       contact with             wheel sailed 30 to                                 after hitting a sand                              Sumerduck (Va.)
JOHN “JACK”                                                                                                                                                                                                construction worker
                                                                            church he created         another car and          40 feet, clearing the                              embankment at                                     Dragway. “She
MCGREGOR JR.                                                                                                                                                                                               and Vietnam War
                                                                            from a nightspot. He      flipped nine times       grandstand fence         KENNY MINTER              Kanawha Valley (W.                                would do anything
52, driver                                                                                                                                                                                                 veteran from East
                         ROY HARTLEY               PAT RAND                 once waved a              during a sprint car      and killing Johnson,     39, driver                Va.) Dragway Park.                                for her family,” said
March 11, 1994                                                                                                                                                                                             Lyme, Conn., had a
                         50, driver                29, driver               checkered                 race at Knoxville        said a track official.   Oct. 29, 1995                                                               husband Rickie, who
McGregor, a                                                                                                                                                                                                heart attack – his                                  TERRY EGNER
                         June 11, 1994             July 11, 1994            handkerchief while        (Iowa) Raceway. An                                Minter’s car                                                                was injured along
Springfield, Ohio,                                                                                                                                                                                         second – in the final                               36, crew
                         Hartley, from             The Michicot, Wis.,      singing “Victory in       annual memorial                                   bumped with                                                                 with son Matthew.
auto parts plant                                                                                                                                                                                           laps of a race at                                   May 4, 1997
                         Pembroke Pines,           machinist died after     Jesus” during a           race for Young is                                 another in an
owner, struck a                                                                                                                                                                                            Waterford (Conn.)                                   Egner, a county road
                         Fla., died of a heart     his race car flipped     service.                  held at the Iowa                                  open-wheel race
concrete wall while                                                                                                                                                                                        Speedbowl.                                          supervisor from
                         attack during a race      over on its side and                               State Fairgrounds,                                and crashed into a
practicing at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Calvert City, Ky., was
                         at Hialeah (Fla.)         was struck on the                                  with proceeds going                               wall at Caraway
Florida’s Moroso                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               killed at Barren
                         Speedway. A               top of the roll cage                               to a fund for his                                 Speedway in
Motorsports Park.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              County (Ky.)
                         sergeant who spent        by another car at                                  daughter, Nicole,                                 Asheboro, N.C.
His son said                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Speedway when a
                         20 years with             Sheboygan (Wis.)                                   who Young’s                                       Minter was from
McGregor died                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  car crashed into the
                         Miami’s Metro-Dade        County Fair Park.                                  parents adopted.                                  Martinsville, Va.
participating in his                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           pits where his crew
                         police force, he          The car was owned                                                                                    Racers raised
lifelong passion.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              was working. Egner,
                         wanted to be the          by Rand’s father,                                                                                    money for his young
“You see so many                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               a father of two, and
                         next Glenn “Fireball”     Neil, who since has                                                                                  son and wife when
people suffer or in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the car’s driver,
                         Roberts, a NASCAR         worked to get other                                                                                  insurance problems
pain,” Ross                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Terry English, were
                         great who died after      racers to install a                                                                                  arose.
McGregor said. “I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              friends and
get some comfort         a crash at Charlotte      reinforcing bar on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               co-workers.
from this.”              (now Lowe’s) Motor        top of roll cages.
                         Speedway in 1964.



                                                                                  S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1             7N     T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                 DEATH AT
1997                                               STEVE HALL
                                                   31, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                            GREGORY MEADS
                                                                                                                                                                                                            38, track staff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      TOM WHITLING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      25, driver
JOHN LEGAT                                         Oct. 4, 1997                                                                                                                                             May 2, 1999               Aug. 7, 1999
50, driver                                         Hall, from West                                                                                                                                          A truck driver and        Whitling’s car hit
May 18, 1997                                       Alexandria, Ohio,                                                                                                                                        father of three from      the wall at
                                                   crashed his dragster                                                                                                                                     Canton, Ill., Meads       Sportsman’s




                                                                                THE TRACK
Legat, from Carol
Stream, Ill., died                                 on a creek bank at                                                                                                                                       worked as a pit           Speedway in
when his car                                       the edge of Kil-Kare                                                                                                                                     steward at Spoon          Pennsylvania after
slammed into a tree       CARRIE NEAL              Speedway at                                                                                                                                              River (Ill.) Speedway.    swerving to avoid a      KEVIN GOBRECHT
and split in half as he   25, driver               Dayton, Ohio. Hall’s                                                                                                                                     He was killed by a        wreck. He was a          30, driver
tried to pass another     July 25, 1997            father, Lonnie,                                                                                                                                          car that careened off     foreman on the           Sept. 24, 1999
car at Summit Point       Neal, from Poway,        renewed his own                                                                                                                                          the track as he           second shift at a        Gobrecht, from New
Raceway in West           Calif., was heating      racing career after                                                                                                                                      stepped into the pit      paper mill in            Oxford, Pa., died
Virginia.                 up her tires at Sears    his son’s death. He                                                                                                                                      entrance.                 Titusville, Pa. Cousin   after his sprint car
                          Point Raceway in         still races at 60.                The racing community grieves: Thousands of mourners stood in the streets                                                                         Bobby Whitling won       crashed at I-80
     –––––––              Sonoma, Calif.,                                                                                                                                                                        –––––––              a race later that        Speedway in
                          when her dragster             –––––––                      of Montevideo, Uruguay, to honor Gonzalo Rodriguez, a CART rookie who                                                  RON LITTLE                week and dedicated       Greenwood, Neb. A
                          shot forward at 200                                                                                                                                                                                         his victory to Tom.      piece of another car
DEAN HUBBS                                                                           died at a California speedway in September 1999. Two weeks later, hundreds                                             42, driver
                          mph and smashed                                                                                                                                                                   May 9, 1999                                        came loose, striking
60, driver
May 23, 1997              into a hillside. Neal,                                     waited in the rain to say goodbye to local legend Kevin Gobrecht, an Oxford,                                           Little, from Adel,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           –––––––             Gobrecht and killing
                          in her eighth race,                                                                                                                                                               Iowa, crawled out of                               him. The night
Hubbs, from
                          was the daughter of
                                                                                     Pa., driver who died at a Nebraska track. The next month, in October, Bill                                                                                                before the funeral,
Chittenango, N.Y.,                                                                                                                                                                                          his car after finishing
suffered fatal injuries   Chuck Neal, known                                          Knisley Jr. of Owensville, Ohio, died in a crash at an Ohio speedway. His                                              third in a race at                                 hundreds waited up
in a crash at             as “The Fastest Man                                                                                                                                                               Stuart Speedway in                                 to four hours in the
                          on the Sand”                                               father visits his grave twice a week.                                                                                  Iowa. Minutes later,                               rain to say goodbye
Brewerton (N.Y.)
Speedway,                 because he has held                                                                                                                                                               he died of a heart                                 to “the G-Man.”
                                                   BRIAN WILSON
                          almost every major                                                                                                                                                                attack. In his last
according to
published reports.        drag racing record
                                                   40, driver
                                                   Oct. 24, 1997                                                                                                                                            race, Little reached                                    –––––––
He had just begun         on sand.                                                                                                                                                                          one of his goals –
                                                   Wilson was testing a
racing again after a
20-year absence.
                               –––––––             Formula Mazda he                                                     1997-2000                                                                           cars he built finished
                                                                                                                                                                                                            first through fourth.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      RANDY WITKUM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      25, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               KEITH COWHERD
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               49, driver
                                                   was working on for
                          CHARLES ELLIS                                                                                                                                                                                               Aug. 14, 1999            Sept. 25, 1999
                                                   another driver when
     –––––––                                                                                                                                                                                                     –––––––              Witkum, a                Cowherd, from
MIKE FELL
                          54, driver
                          Aug. 17, 1997
                                                   he crashed into a
                                                   barrier near the pit
                                                                                                       AUG. 30, 1997                                                               1999                                               mechanic from            Phoenix, died of
                          Ellis, from Crosby,                                                                                        Jolley, a Forest City, N.C.,                                                                     Westford, Mass.,         head injuries after
32, driver                                         lane at Sears Point
                          Texas, was avoiding                                                                                     veterinarian, began racing after heart                                                              died when his            his car collided with
May 25, 1997                                       Raceway in
                          a spun-out car when                                                                                                                                                                                         open-wheel car           another and
Fell, from Sun Prairie,                            California. The                                                                problems forced him to stop flying                                                                  slammed into a wall      slammed into a wall.
Wis. died after a         another hit his on       longtime,                                                                      planes, his wife said. He had a fatal
                          the driver’s side, at                                                                                                                                                                                       at Jennerstown (Pa.)     His death was the
crash at Wisconsin’s                               award-winning                                                                  heart attack while racing at the
                          Battleground                                                                                                                                                                                                Speedway. His twin       second in six
Angell Park                                        mechanic, who had
                          Speedway in Texas.       a shop at the track,      CRAIG MCCALLUM
                                                                                                                                  Rutherfordton’s Green Hill Motor                                                                    brother, who also        months at Irwindale
Speedway. Friend
and driver Brandon        He told his wife         was considering           49, driver                                           Speedway. His car then veered into a                                                                was in that race, has    Speedway in
                                                                                                                                                                                                            RAY KENNEDY               given up the sport.      California.
Waelti switched to        before the race, “I’m    resuming his driving      June 21, 1998             JOHN JOLLEY                spectator area, where it hit Parker, a                                    52, driver
Fell’s car number         going to win tonight     career.                   McCallum, from            53, driver                 Spindale, N.C., man who had just                 TOMMY BOWLES             May 16, 1999                   –––––––                  –––––––
after his death.          or they’re going to                                Rutherfordton, N.C.,                                 pushed his girlfriend out of the way.                                     An engineer who
                                                                                                                                                                                   51, driver
                          take me out.”                 –––––––              was traveling 180         THOMAS LEE PARKER          Parker’s family considered a suit but            Feb. 9, 1999             had retired to Hilton
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      KELLY POLE
     –––––––                   –––––––                                       mph when his car          63, spectator              dropped the idea after being told the            “Ten-Grand Tommy”        Head Island, S.C.,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      37, spectator
                                                                             veered off the drag                                                                                                                                      Aug. 20, 1999
                                                                                                                                                                                   was a popular racer      Kennedy drove his
                          TIM TURNER               1998                      strip at Beech Bend
                                                                             (Ky.) Raceway Park
                                                                                                                                  track had little, if any, insurance. The
                                                                                                                                  track is closed.                                 from Grand Blanc,        Jaguar off Summit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pole, from Canada,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      was struck by a
                          44, driver                                                                                                                                               Mich., who earned        Point (W.Va.)
                                                                             and became                                                                                                                                               sprint car that spun
                          Aug. 27, 1997            RICHARD                                                                                                                         his nickname             Raceway at 100
                                                                             airborne, sailing                                                                                                                                        out of control in the
                          Turner, a mechanic       COLHOUN JR.                                                                                                                     because he drove         mph and ran into an
                                                                             upside down                                                                                                                                              pits at Grays Harbor
                          from Avoca, Ind.,        50, driver                                                                                                                      full-out at 10,000       embankment.
                          died of a heart                                    through a guardrail       JULY 18 AND AUG. 23, 1998                                                   revolutions per
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Raceway Park in          BILL KNISLEY JR.
                                                   May 9, 1998
                          attack during a          Colhoun, from
                                                                             and smashing a                                                                                        minute. He was                –––––––              Elma, Wash. Pole         38, driver
                                                                             scoring tower. “He                                                                                                                                       was a spectator          Oct. 2, 1999
                          practice run at E.T.     Millbrook, N.Y., was                                                                                                            killed after his car
JERRY BURKE                                                                  died on Father’s Day,                                                                                                                                    with little racing       Knisley collided with
                          Speedway in              racing his Porsche                                                                                                              was hit by another       MEL BRESAW
50, driver                                                                   and the kids really                                                                                                                                      background, said         another car and
                          Bloomfield, Ind. His     911 when his car slid                                                                                                           at Charlotte County      50, driver
June 7, 1997                                                                 miss him,” said his                                                                                                                                      Walter Bachman,          struck a wall at
                          son, Matt, now drag      on the track at Lime                                                                                                            (Fla.) Speedway.         May 22, 1999
As Burke passed his                                                          wife, Bobbie. “They                                                                                                                                      one of two others        Ohio’s Eldora
                          races; he built the      Rock (Conn.) Park                                                                                                                                        Bresaw, a Ford
wife, Veronica, in the    dragster his father      and flipped. A lover
                                                                             still can’t talk about                                                                                     –––––––             dealership parts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      injured in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      accident.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Speedway. The
stands during a           was driving when he                                it.”                                                                                                                           manager from                                       father of three from
                                                   of fast cars, he gave                                                                                                                                                                                       Owensville, Ohio,
hobby stock race, he
gave her a
                          died.                    his sons                       –––––––              JOHN DAVIS                 PHIL KANE
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gresham, Ore., was             –––––––             died of a broken
                                                   driving-school                                                                                                                                           going about 130
thumbs-up. “Then               –––––––             lessons as birthday       PAUL JONES                48, driver                 42, track staff                                                           mph when his car          SUSIE WELLS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               neck, family
two laps later the                                                                                                                                                                                          ran off the Southern                               members said.
                          MELANIE RACHELLE         presents.                 41, driver                                                                                                                                               47, driver
car just veered into                                                                                                                                                                                        Oregon Speedway in                                 Knisley’s father
                          MITCHELL                                           July 11, 1998                                                                                                                                            Aug. 21, 1999
the infield,” she said.                                 –––––––              Jones, a motocross
                                                                                                          Davis, from Fort Myers, Fla., died instantly after his car                                        Medford, Ore., and        Wells, from Tooele,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               visits his son’s grave
                          16, spectator                                                                                                                                                                                                                        twice a week.
Burke, racing at his
                          Aug. 31, 1997                                      veteran in his            spun off Turn 1 at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida and                                            into trees. He left a     Utah, had raced
hometown Boone                                     TONY MONK                                           hit a concrete barrier. The barrier fell, injuring two track
(Iowa) Speedway,
                          Melanie, from
                                                   51, driver
                                                                             second year of stock
                                                                                                                                                                                   CASEY DIEMERT
                                                                                                                                                                                                            wife and three            dragsters for years,          –––––––
                          Kennedale, Texas,                                  car driving, pulled off   workers, including Kane. Kane, a Miami real estate                                                   children, including a     often in the popular
had a heart attack                                 May 16, 1998                                                                                                                    23, driver               son who still races.
                          was standing with
                                                   Monk, a New York
                                                                             Orange County (N.Y)       appraiser known as “PK,” died after five weeks in a coma.                   March 27, 1999
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      funny car division.
and crashed into a                                                           Fair Speedway                                                                                                                                            She called her
parked car.
                          her boyfriend in a
                                                   investment banker                                   Davis’ brother is using parts from the Corvette for his own                 Diemert’s car hit the         –––––––
                          restricted area at                                 during a sportsman                                                                                                                                       dragster “Beauty
                                                   and father of three,                                land-speed race car.                                                        wall during practice
                                                                             race and collapsed in                                                                                                                                    and the Beast” and
     –––––––              Cowtown (Texas)
                                                   died when his             the pits after a heart
                                                                                                                                                                                   at Irwindale (Calif.)    JASON BETWARDA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      was celebrating a
                          Speedway when a                                                                                                                                          Speedway, but the        28, driver
                                                   Indy-style car hit a      attack. The South                                                                                                                                        new sponsorship on
                          flying tire pushed a                                                                                                                                     race went on with        June 12, 1999
RICK BALDWIN                                       wall during a race at     Salem, N.Y.,                                                                                                                                             the night her car
                          fence into them. Her                                                                                                                                     no announcement of       Betwarda, from
41, driver                boyfriend, a novice
                                                   Connecticut’s Lime        landscaper had won        JULY 26, 1998                                                                                                                  crashed into a wall
June 12, 1997                                      Rock Park.                                                                                                                      his death. He was a      Scarsdale, N.Y., had                               GREG MOORE
                          driver injured in the                              a division title in his                                                                                                        built cars for years,     and she died at
Baldwin, from                                                                                          KENNETH FOX              SHERYL ANN LASTER         MICHAEL TAUTKUS          safety officer from                                                         24, driver
Corpus Christi,
                          incident, returned to         –––––––              first year of stock
                                                                             car racing.               38, spectator            40, spectator             49, spectator            Roseburg, Ore. “He       then decided to           Rocky Mountain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Raceways in Salt         Oct. 31, 1999
                          racing the next                                                                                                                                          was the most             drive. He died when
Texas, spent 11 years                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Lake City.               Moore was traveling
                          month.
in a coma before he                                                               –––––––                 Fox, Laster and Tautkus were killed when a tire and
                                                                                                                                                                                   sensitive and warm       his 1993 Mustang                                   220 mph when his
died in June 1997.             –––––––                                                                 debris from a crash flew into the stands during a CART
                                                                                                                                                                                   man I’ve ever            crashed at New
                                                                                                                                                                                                            York’s Lebanon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           –––––––             car slid on the 10th
His car spun into a                                                          JACK ROGERS                                                                                           known,” said father                                                         lap of a race at
wall at Michigan                                                             53, track staff           race at Michigan International Speedway. Six others were                    Jim.                     Valley Dragway.                                    California Speedway.
                          RICK GWIN                                                                                                                                                                                                   DELMAR RIGGINS
International                                                                July 18, 1998             injured. Laster, a travel consultant, and Tautkus, a plastics                                             –––––––                                       A racing prodigy
Speedway. His wife,
                          32, driver
                                                                             Rogers, from              worker, were friends from Milan, Mich., who attended the
                                                                                                                                                                                        –––––––                                       44, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               from Canada, he
                          Sept. 5, 1997                                                                                                                                                                                               Sept. 1, 1999
Debbie,                   Gwin, from                                         Lakeland, Fla., was       race together. Fox, a corporal at a state boot camp for                                                                        Riggins was making       was the youngest
unsuccessfully sued       Mansfield, Ohio,                                   working as a                                                                                                                                             his way through an       driver to compete in
NASCAR for                                         MARIO CARBUCCIA                                     Michigan felons, later was honored by friends who took                                                                                                  a CART race and the
                          died of multiple                                   flagman at                                                                                                                                               accident at his
negligence.                                        45, driver                Auburndale                up a collection for the care and education of his                                                                                                       youngest to win a
                          injuries when he hit                                                                                                                                                                                        hometown Enid
                          a wall at Baer Field
                                                   May 29, 1998              Speedway in Winter        then-7-year-old son, Christopher.                                                                                              (Okla.) Speedway         race before this year.
     –––––––              Speedway in Fort
                                                   Carbuccia, a              Haven when a car,                                                                                                                                        when his car was hit
                          Wayne, Ind. Gwin
                                                   mechanic from the         jockeying for                                                                                                                                            by another one,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    –––––––
                                                   Dominican Republic,       position, swerved off
                          was driving for Sam                                                                                                                                                                                         causing his fuel cell    BILL REVARD
                          Stockon, who
                                                   died when his car         the track and hit         M AY 1, 1999                                                                EDWIN RITCHIE                                      to explode. Riggins,     34, driver
                                                   slammed into a                                                                                                                  50, driver               ROGER PAULSON
                          considered                                         him, according to                                                                                                                                        who had been             Nov. 13, 1999
                                                   concrete wall at                                                                                                                April 24, 1999           45, driver
                          retirement after                                   published reports.        DEXTER MOBLEY                                                                                                                  racing 24 years, died
                                                   Baton Rouge (La.)         The Vietnam veteran
                                                                                                                                      Patton, Pyatte and Mobley were               Ritchie, from            June 18, 1999                                      Revard, a popular
                          Gwin’s death.                                                                41, spectator                                                                                                                  from burns suffered      local driver from
                                                   Raceway. The              owned a                                              killed when debris from a three-car              Snohomish, Wash.,        Paulson, a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in the accident.         Pinellas Park, Fla.,
                               –––––––             accident was his          car-detailing                  –––––––               IRL wreck flew into the Lowe’s Motor             was midway               sheet-metal worker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               was known for his
MARY WOLLESEN
                                                   second of the day.
                                                   His car was named
                                                                             business and had                                     Speedway stands. Eight others were               through a race when      from San Jose, Calif.,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            died at Delta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           –––––––             fearless racing style
                                                                             worked as a race                                     injured.                                         he had a heart
54, driver                                         “F13” for his wife,                                                                                                                                      Speedway in                                        and nicknamed
                                                                             director and flagman                                                                                  attack at Evergreen
June 22, 1997                                      Fifa, and the date                                                                 Patton was a rest home food                  Speedway in              Stockton, Calif.,                                  “Wild Bill.” He died
Wollesen, a legal                                                            for more than 15                                     server from Hickory, N.C. “My baby’s                                                                                         after a crash
                                                   they met.                                                                                                                       Monroe, Wash. The        when his car rolled.
administrator from                                                           years, reports said.                                                                                                                                                              knocked him into
                                                                                                                                  face had to be wrapped like a                    annual “60 Minutes       Popular in California
Clarkston, Mich.,                                       –––––––                   –––––––                                         mummy for his funeral,” said his                 of Fear” race he died    racing circles, his                                the grandstand wall
died in a crash at                                 JOSEPH SMITH SR.                                                                                                                                         funeral drew                                       at Sunshine
Wisconsin’s Road                                                                                                                  mother, Judith Patton of Mooresville.            in is now named
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Speedway in Florida.
                                                   60, driver                CHARLIE PERKINS                                                                                       after him.               hundreds.
America. She had          DEREK ISRAEL                                       30, track staff
                                                                                                       JEFF PATTON                “Oh, how I wanted to see him one                                                                                             He delivered pizzas
                                                   May 29, 1998
raced for 11 years.       28, driver               Smith, from               July 31, 1998
                                                                                                       32, spectator              more time.”                                           –––––––                  –––––––              GONZALO RODRIGUEZ        and ran a forklift,
                          Sept. 14, 1997           Manhattan, Kan.,          Perkins, a state               –––––––                   Pyatte worked in the warehouse of                                                               27, driver               and was considering
     –––––––              Israel’s 1972 Datsun     was killed when his       trooper from New                                     Synthetics Finishing in Hickory. On              TIMOTHY VOUAUX           LONNIE BOSTROM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sept. 11, 1999           retirement from
                                                                                                                                                                                   42, crew                 48, driver
                          510 was hit by           dragster failed to        Lebanon, N.Y., and                                   the first anniversary of his death, his                                                             Rodriguez, a CART        racing to spend
                                                                                                                                                                                   April 30, 1999           June 19, 1999
                          another car at           slow down and hit a       volunteer at                                                                                                                                             rookie from              more time with his
                                                                                                                                  family visited the track from Connelly           While working on a       Bostrom, an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               son, Billy Jr.
                          California’s Sears       wall after a time trial   Lebanon Valley                                                                                                                 electronics               Uruguay, died in
                          Point Raceway. His                                 Speedway, was
                                                                                                                                  Springs with balloons, silk flowers, a           pit crew at Tri-City                               practice at
                                                   at Heartland Park
                          parents say he was       Topeka in Kansas.         killed helping a                                     porcelain angel and a poster that                (Mich.) Motor            technician from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      California’s Laguna           –––––––
                                                                                                                                                                                   Speedway, Vouaux         Meridian, Idaho,
                          killed when a piece      He got into drag          driver after a crash.                                read: “Randy We Love You.”                                                crashed his dragster      Seca Raceway when
                          of debris came
                          through the driver’s
                                                   racing after
                                                   watching his son
                                                                             Another car, driven
                                                                             by Perkins’
                                                                                                                                      Mobley was a Georgia native who
                                                                                                                                  lived in Statesville, N.C. At a
                                                                                                                                                                                   was struck by a car
                                                                                                                                                                                   at a trackside           at Firebird Raceway       his car crashed into
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a tire barrier,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               2000
                                                                                                       RANDY PYATTE,                                                               guardrail. His           in Emmitt, Idaho. He
                          side window. An          race.                     brother-in-law, hit                                  memorial, friends remembered him                                          had loved vehicles        launched into the air
KEVIN FLEMING             Oakland car repair                                 Perkins, according to     21, spectator                                                               brother, who was                                   and landed upside        LARRY DEATON
25, driver                shop owner, he was            –––––––              the family’s
                                                                                                                                  as a low-key appliance repairman                 driving in the race,     since before                                       41, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                            rebuilding a truck at     down. Thousands of
July 2, 1997              considering studying                               attorney.                                            who never hesitated when someone                 has quit the sport.                                mourners stood in        Jan. 22, 2000
                                                                                                                                                                                                            age 14.
Fleming’s car spun        in Israel to become a                                                                                   needed help.                                     Vouaux, from                                       the streets of the       Off-road racing was
while trying to avoid     rabbi.                                                  –––––––                                                                                          Saginaw, Mich., was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 –––––––              Uruguayan capital,       a chance for Deaton
an accident and was                                                                                                                                                                the father of young                                Montevideo, during       to take his wife and
hit by another driver          –––––––                                       CHAD COLEMAN                                                                                          triplets.                WILLIAM “PAT” RILEY       his funeral              daughter on
at the New York                                                              30, driver                JASON BENTON                                        BRIAN RASMUSSEN                                  40, driver                                         mini-vacations. The
State Fairgrounds in                                                         Aug. 28, 1998             23, journalist                                      35, driver                   –––––––             July 17, 1999
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      procession.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               auto repair shop
Syracuse. Fleming,                                                           Coleman, from             Sept. 6, 1998                                       Oct. 11, 1998                                    Riley crashed his              –––––––             owner from Clovis,
an auto mechanic                                                             Greenville, S.C.,         Benton, from Grand                                  “Raz,” a business                                stock car into a wall                              Calif., died when
                                                   DAN HERMAN                dreamed of                Rapids, Mich., was                                  owner and former                                 at New Paris (Ind.)       EDWARD CRAY              another driver hit his
from Evans Mills,
                                                   48, driver                becoming a Winston        videotaping races at                                police officer from                              Speedway, track           59, driver               stalled car broadside
N.Y., who also
                                                   June 5, 1998              Cup driver and made       Great Lakes                                         Wichita, Kan., had                               officials and             Sept. 18, 1999           at a Laughlin, Nev.,
helped work the
                                                   Herman, a Bismarck,       a promotional video       Dragway in Union                                    been racing a few                                published reports         Cray, an electrician     desert course.
family farm, was
                                                   N.D., heating and         for potential             Grove, Wis., when a        CARL MERRILL             months when his                                  said. The Union, Ind.,    from Trenton, N.J.,
engaged.
                          PEGGY PAWLOWSKI          cooling business          sponsors. He owned        car flew over a            62, driver               car crashed into a                               mechanic, worked          died when his                 –––––––
     –––––––              37, track staff          owner, died               a sign company and        guardrail, according       Oct. 3, 1998             dirt embankment at      TIMOTHY                  sound and lights for      dragster struck
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               SCOTTY DON
                                                   following the family      was engaged to be         to track officials and     Merrill, the owner of    his hometown 81                                  local rock bands.         another car and
                          Sept. 27, 1997                                                                                                                                           CUMBERLAND                                                                  MATTHEWS
                                                   tradition. “My            married when he hit       published reports.         several Maine hotels     Speedway. He died                                                          went over a
                          Pawlowski was                                                                                                                                                                                                                        29, driver
                          working near the         great-grandpa and         the wall at Atlanta                                  and restaurants,         of a broken neck.
                                                                                                                                                                                   25, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                   May 1, 1999
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 –––––––              guardrail at Atco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Feb. 20, 2000
                          pits of the Waterford    my grandpa and my         Motor Speedway.                –––––––               suffered a heart                                 Cumberland, an           DARRELL SARSYCKI          Raceway in New
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Matthews, from
                          Hills (Mich.) Road       dad raced,” said his                                CHRIS BRADLEY              attack during the             –––––––            auto mechanic in         46, driver                Jersey, police said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Inola, Okla., had
                                                   son, Steve. “I race.”                                                          first stage of an                                                         July 24, 1999             He died of massive
                          Race Course when a                                                           40, crew                                            JIMMY DAVIES            Gulfport, Miss., was                                                        finished a test run of
                                                   Herman suffered a                                                              off-road rally in                                                         Sarsycki, a railroad      internal injuries.
                          car jumped the                                                               Sept. 7, 1998                                       40, crew                hit in a practice lap                                                       a friend’s Chevy
                          barrier and landed       heart attack during a                               Bradley, from Spring       Arizona. The month                                                        inspector from
                                                                                                                                                           Oct. 17, 1998           at Jackson (Miss.)                                                          Nova dragster when
                          on top of her. A         caution period at                                   Lake, Mich., was the       before, he had given                                                      Midwest City, Okla.,
CARL DALO                                                                                                                                                  Davies, a Canadian      Motor Speedway,                                                             the car left the track,
                          cancer survivor from     Dacotah Speedway                                    crew chief for Adam        his wife a yellow                                                         died when his
51, driver                                                                                                                                                 working the pits,       causing his car to hit                                                      hit a ditch and rolled
                          Waterford                in Mandan, N.D.                                     Petty’s minor league       Volkswagen Beetle                                                         high-powered kart
July 19, 1997                                                                                                                                              was struck in the       the wall, flip and                                                          over several times at
                          Township, Mich., she                                                         circuit stock car          and plane tickets to     head and chest by a     catch fire. Married,     collided with                                      Tulsa International
Dalo, a Henrietta,
                          had volunteered to                                                           racing team. Bradley       join him in Arizona.     piece of guardrail      he left behind son       another and struck a                               Speedway. His
N.Y., food service
                          help terminally ill                                                          was run over while         Despite several          that flew 70 feet       Kyler and his wife,      tree at the Lake                                   brother stopped
equipment
                          patients with pain                                                           making an                  heart procedures,        after an accident at    Tracie, then             Garnett track in                                   racing and sold his
representative, died
                          management.                                                                  adjustment under           “he lived on the         Lime Rock Park in       pregnant with son        Kansas. His twin                                   dragster.
after his stock car
                                                                                                       Petty’s car during a       edge all the time,”      Connecticut. Davies     Timothy Cole.            brother, David, says
hit a wall on the last
                                                                                                       pit stop at the            Barbara Merrill said.    cleaned cheese                                   he still drives karts
lap of a race at
                                                                                                       Minnesota State Fair                                barrels for a living.                            because he wants to
Kelly’s Memorial
                                                                                                       Speedway.                                                                                            win a national event
Motorsports Park in
                                                                                                                                                                                                            - for himself and for
Batavia, N.Y.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            his brother.



                                                                                   S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1               8N       T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
APRIL 1, 2000

                                            Semans and
                                          Wehrlen were                          DEATH AT
                                                                               THE TRACK
                                          racing antique
                                          sprint cars at
                                          Bronson (Fla.)                                                                                                                                                 RAY GASTELU              MICHAEL JOSSELYN         JIM DEEL
                                                                                                                                                                                                         43, driver               45, driver               53, driver
                                          Speedway when                                                                                                                                                                           Aug. 25, 2001
                                                                                                                                                                                                         June 30, 2001                                     Sept. 15, 2001
                                          their wheels                                                                                                                                                   Gastelu, a Jackson,      Josselyn, a              Deel, a Green
THOMAS SEMANS III    CHARLES WEHRLEN      tangled and the                                                                                                                                                N.J., satellite system   heavy-equipment          Springs, Ohio,
66, driver           62, driver           cars went over                                                                                                                                                 installer, had a heart   operator from            mechanic, died
                                          an embankment                                                                                                                                                  attack while             Alamogordo, N.M.,        when his sprint car
                                                                                     Tragedy doesn’t discriminate by age. At 68, Del Quinn was the oldest driver                                         warming up for a         died after breaking      crashed into the
that circled the track. Semans was a retired public works
                                                                                     to die at a U.S. track since 1990. Known as “The Mighty Quinn,” he suffered a                                       weekly stock car         his neck in a race at    second-turn wall at
supervisor from Beverly Hills, Fla. Wehrlen was retired                                                                                                                                                                           the Sertoma
                                                                                                                                                                                                         race at New Jersey’s                              Fremont (Ohio)
from running a New Jersey marina. He was, said his                                   heart attack after an April 2001 race in California. At 15, Jimmy Olson was the                                     Wall Stadium. His        Speedway in              Speedway. The race
brother, Drew, “a cautious person.”                                                                                                                                                                      wife said he was         Tularosa, N.M. His       was Deel’s second.
                                                                                     youngest to die; he crashed a truck in June 2000 in Wisconsin. Dale                                                                          father watched the
                                                                                                                                                                                                         feeling sick that                                 “I didn’t want him to
                                                                                     Earnhardt, 49, died in February 2001 at the Daytona 500. That night,                                                night. She said          wreck from the           drive,” said his
                                                                                                                                                                                                         nothing would have       stands, and one of       father, Clyde. “The
                                                                                     NASCAR president Mike Helton, his voice breaking, read a statement from                                             kept him out of the      his three brothers,      race track is a good
                                                                                     Chairman Bill France Jr. “Today,” the statement said, “NASCAR lost its                                              car; he was one win      all of whom race,        place for someone
                                                                                                                                                                                                         away from a track        cut him from the         to get hurt.”
2000                                                JAMES “J.W.”
                                                    MITCHELL
                                                                                     greatest driver in the history of the sport.”                                                                       record.                  car.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                –––––––
                                                    57, driver                                                                                                                                                –––––––                  –––––––
                                                    July 30, 2000
                                                    The owner of an
                                                    Irvine, Calif., real
                                                                                                                      2000-2001
                                                    estate investment
                                                    firm, Mitchell died of                           HOWELL C. JONES III
                         DANNY BURNS                complications from                               29, driver
                         52, driver                 a brain injury after a                           Oct. 15, 2000
                         June 3, 2000               1999 midget car                                  Jones, from Sheldon,
CHRIS ABBLETT            Burns was knocked          crash at California’s                            S.C., died after his
20, crew                 unconscious when           Kings Speedway.                                  car’s suspension                                                                                                                                      CHUCK SENNOTT
Feb. 26, 2000            his car hit a guardrail    ’’He was always                                  broke, sending him                                                                                  ALEX KOPE                FRED PSCHOLKA            46, driver
Abblett, the only        but soon seemed            very conscious                                   into a wall during a                                                                                38, driver               20, track staff          Sept. 23, 2001
child of Don and         fine, joking with          about safety,’’ said      DWIGHT WRICH           race at Hardeeville       AL PAPINI III           GORDON LEMONS            RODNEY SCHADT            July 20, 2001            Aug. 25, 2001            Sennott, from
Shelley Abblett of       medics at New              his brother,              38, driver             (S.C.) Motor              41, driver              54, driver               53, driver               Kope, a former Air       A car detailer, cook     Gilbertsville, Pa.,
Lakeland, Fla., died     Castle’s Hickory           Nicholas, who quit        Oct. 1, 2000           Speedway. “To say I       April 1, 2001           April 21, 2001           June 2, 2001             Force arms               and volunteer            was found
from debris when         (Pa.) Speedway. An         racing after his          Wrich, a bank vice     wish he hadn’t            Papini’s car struck     Lemons, an Aurora,       Schadt died after his    technician from          firefighter, Pscholka,   unresponsive after a
his car’s tire           Imperial, Pa., bus         brother’s accident.       president from         raced, that would be      the wall at Rockford    Ore., business           stock car slid down      Bellingham, Wash.,       of DuBois, Pa., was      15-car pileup at
exploded in the pits     driver, he died five                                 Omaha, Neb., who       saying I wish he had      (Ill.) Speedway after   owner, died after his    the track on its side    had a heart attack       working as a             Delaware
at USA International     days later of head,             –––––––              co-hosted a weekly     been different. And I     he had a heart          car hit a barrier        and was hit by           and hit a wall during    flagman in the third     International
Speedway in              neck and trunk                                       financial-planning     don’t feel that way,”     attack while chasing    during time trials at    another driver at        a sprint car race at     turn of Central          Speedway. He was
Lakeland, Fla. His       injuries. “We closed                                 radio show, died       his father said.          his first late-model    Oregon’s Willamette      Eldon (Iowa)             Deming Speedway          Pennsylvania             known at the track
parents later held a     the track,” said                                     after his car                                    stock car title. The    Speedway,                Raceway. Schadt,         in Washington. He        Speedway when a          as “Chuckles.” His
21st-birthday party      co-owner Regina                                      crashed, flipped and        –––––––              Machesney Park, Ill.,   according to             from Brighton, Iowa,     got to know his wife,    sprint car hit him       motto: “No matter
for their late son.      Mayerchak. “It was                                   caught fire at                                   resident had no         published reports.       had recently             Diane, by spending       and threw him 30         what happens
                                                                                                     JOE WINNE
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Sunday afternoons        feet. His mother and     tonight, the beer’s
     –––––––             just too hard to
                         take.”
                                                                              Crawford County
                                                                              (Iowa) Speedway.
                                                                                                     45, driver                previous health
                                                                                                                               problems, said               –––––––             returned to racing
                                                                                                                                                                                after giving it up       together, watching       grandfather both         cold at the end.”
                                                                                                     Oct. 20, 2000
                                                                                                                                                                                                         races on television.     raced stock cars.
KEN WHITEHOUSE
                              –––––––
                                                                              At his funeral, his
                                                                              children, Morgan, 9,
                                                                                                     Winne had a heart         George Bohn, a
                                                                                                                               longtime friend who
                                                                                                                                                                                years before when
                                                                                                                                                                                he and his wife
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                –––––––
                                                                                                     attack during
53, driver
April 10, 2000
                                                    TRAVIS BEAUFEAUX
                                                    29, crew                  and Carsten, 7,        practice. That day,       won the race.                                    started a family.             –––––––                  –––––––
Whitehouse was                                      Aug. 5, 2000              played “We Three       he had told family
about to sell his                                   Beaufeaux, from           Kings” and “Love       and friends he                –––––––                                           –––––––
Oklahoma City                                       Midwest City, Okla.,      Me Tender” on the      wasn’t feeling well
machine shop to                                     was tightening lug        piano.                 because he was
start a race-engine                                 nuts on a stock car                              nervous about a
business when his                                   between races at              –––––––            close championship                                JOE FABRIZIUS
car crashed during                                  Oklahoma’s State          RICHARD KIRK           chase at New York’s                               69, track staff
the season’s first       SCOTT BAKER                Fair Speedway when        48, driver             Orange County Fair                                April 25, 2001                                                                                      BLAISE
sprint race at State     43, driver                 the car accidentally      Oct. 8, 2000           Speedway. The                                     Fabrizius, the owner                                                                                ALEXANDER JR.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         VIRGINIA WHYEL           TIM BARLOW
Fair (Okla.)             June 23, 2000              was put in gear. A        Kirk, an electrician   Kingston, N.Y.,                                   of Sycamore (Ill.)                                                                                  25, driver
                                                                                                                                                                                DARRELL BOYD             64, spectator            55, driver
Speedway. He died        Baker, from Holland,       wrench struck the         from Burleson,         collision repairman                               Speedway, was                                                                                       Oct. 4, 2001
                                                                                                                               WAYNE GREEN                                      55, driver               July 22, 2001            Aug. 26, 2001
17 days later.           Mich., was killed          Navy veteran in the       Texas, hit a           was known as                                      sitting in a golf cart                                                                              Alexander was vying
                                                                                                                               61, driver                                       June 9, 2001             A sister, wife, mom      Barlow spun out to
                         after his car hit a tire   head, and he died         concrete retaining     “Fonzie” for his                                  when a crash in                                                                                     with Dale
     –––––––             barrier near the           hours later. His          wall at Cowtown        resemblance to the        April 7, 2001           practice sent a          Boyd collapsed in        and grandmother,
                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Ginny” died when
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  avoid a wreck at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  California’s Sears       Earnhardt’s son,
                                                    brother, competing        Speedway, near         TV character.             Green’s dragster        wheel flying off the     the pits minutes                                                           Kerry, for an ARCA
                         start-finish line at                                                                                                                                                            cars ran off Lorain      Point Raceway and
                                                    in the race when the      Fort Worth. He’d                                 crashed in practice     track. The wheel         after race-night                                                           race lead when their
                         the Toledo (Ohio)
                         Speedway. Baker            accident happened,        been racing about a         –––––––              at Kansas City          struck him in the        practice at St.          County (Ohio)
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Speedway and hit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  collided with other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cars. The print shop     cars collided,
                                                    has stopped racing.       year, but didn’t                                 International           head and neck,           Francois County                                                            sending Alexander
                         was a father of two                                                                                                                                                             the stands. Thirteen     owner from
                         and the son of
                         well-known
                                                         –––––––              discuss his hobby
                                                                              much with his
                                                                                                     2001                      Raceway. Owner of
                                                                                                                               an excavating
                                                                                                                                                       according to his
                                                                                                                                                       wife, Carol. “Keep
                                                                                                                                                                                (Mo.) Raceway, said
                                                                                                                                                                                his son, Darrell Jr.     others were injured      Petaluma, Calif., was    head-on into the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           wall at Lowe’s
                                                                                                                               business from Lee’s                              Another son, Chris,      in the incident.         a lifelong racing fan
                         Midwest racer Ralph                                  mother, Betty Baird.                                                     racing in Heaven,”                                                                                  Motor Speedway.
                                                                                                                               Summitt, Mo.,                                    was racing at the        Whyel, from Lorain,      in his second year of
                         Baker.                                               “He didn’t want me                                                       the track’s Web site                                                                                The Montoursville,
                                                                                                                               Green left a wife,                               track that night and     had watched her          driving
                                                                              to worry too much                                                        says.                                                                                               Pa., racer had
SEAN KOVACS JR.                                                                                                                                                                                          son race and was         competitively.
                              –––––––                                         about him,” Baird                                two daughters and                                had the pit stall next                                                     worked for free in
32, crew
                                                                              said.                                            three grandchildren.         –––––––             to his father. A         sitting in a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       –––––––             Felix Sabates’ race
May 6, 2000                                                                                                                    Friends raised                                   barbecue and raffle      wheelchair on a
                                                                                                                                                                                                         platform.                                         shop to get the
Kovacs, a Norwalk,
Conn., mechanic
                                                                                  –––––––                                      $10,000 and                                      raised $7,000 in                                                           attention of a
                                                                                                                               donated a Jaws of                                memory of the
and volunteer                                                                                                                  Life rescue device to                            Desloge, Mo., driver.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              –––––––                                      big-time NASCAR
firefighter, was                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           car owner.
                                                                                                     GREG RUSSAKIS             the track.
navigating a                                        DOUG CHILTON
                                                                                                     31, driver                                                                      –––––––                                                                    –––––––
Pennsylvania road                                   33, driver
                                                    Aug. 26, 2000                                    Feb. 8, 2001                  –––––––
rally in his Toyota                                                                                  Russakis’s car hit
when it went off                                    After Chilton’s tire
                         KENNY IRWIN                blew out at New 311                              fluid on the track
course and struck a      30, driver                                                                  and skidded off the                               DEL QUINN
tree. The driver had                                Speedway in                                                                                                                                                                   STEVE HAMAN
                         July 7, 2000               Madison, N.C.,                                   drag strip at Moroso                              68, driver                                                                 43, driver
minor injuries.          Irwin, from                                                                 Motorsports Park in                               April 28, 2001
                                                    another car hit           WAYNE BAILEY                                                                                                                                        Sept. 5, 2001
                         Indianapolis, died at
     –––––––             the same corner of
                                                    Chilton’s door.           47, driver             Florida, police said.
                                                                                                     An avid hunter and
                                                                                                                                                       Quinn, a retired
                                                                                                                                                       electrician, had a
                                                                                                                                                                                                         JOHN BANKSTON            Haman was known
                                                    Married just two          Oct. 14, 2000                                                                                                              61, driver               to fans as “The
BILL GNEGY               the New Hampshire          months, the                                      son of a prominent                                fatal heart attack in    DOUG MATHENY                                      Racing Farmer”
                                                                              Bailey, nicknamed                                                                                                          Aug. 2, 2001                                      BILLY ANDERSON
41, driver               International              Reidsville man was                               Fort Pierce citrus        JIMMIE CHILDERS         his car after            47, driver                                        because he raised
                                                                              Bongo, died after                                                                                                          Bankston’s sprint                                 28, driver
May 11, 2000             Speedway where             an electrician. “He                              grower, he left a         52, driver              finishing fifth in a     June 9, 2001                                      corn and soybeans
                                                                              his dragster                                                                                                               car struck the                                    Oct. 19, 2001
Gnegy, from              Adam Petty crashed         was my best friend,”                             wife and infant son.      April 14, 2001          race at Kings            Matheny had a heart                               in Egan, S.D. His car,
                                                                              crashed into a wall                                                                                                        third-turn wall at                                Anderson’s sprint
Colleyville, Texas,      two months earlier.        says father Ben                                                            Childers had a heart    Speedway in              attack, his fourth,                               numbered 23 for his
                                                                              and split in half at                                                                                                       Eldora Speedway in
died four days after     “He was so much            Chilton, weeping as       Red River Raceway
                                                                                                          –––––––              attack during a race    Hanford, Calif.          while a race was         Rossburg, Ohio. The      two boys and three
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           car crashed and
his dragster hit a       fun to be around,”                                                                                    and pulled into the     Known as “The            under caution at                                                           rolled end-over-end
                                                    he described his son.     in Shreveport, La.                                                                                                         Beaumont, Texas,         girls, crashed after
wall, flipped and        Felix Sabates, his car                                                                                infield of Ohio’s       Mighty Quinn,” he        Washington’s South                                                         down Knoxville
                                                                              His memorial                                                                                                               businessman, who         running over the
caught fire at Red       owner, said at the              –––––––              service included                                 Lorain County           was the oldest           Sound Speedway.          also loved to ski and    wheel of another car
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (Iowa) Raceway in
River (La.) Raceway.     time. “He was very                                                                                    Speedway. The race      driver in the            The auto repair shop                                                       1998. A
                                                                              music by Led                                                                                                               scuba dive, was          at Huset’s
Gnegy, who drove a       kind. I could              RON DUSHEK SR.                                                             continued several       Northern California      manager from                                                               house-siding
                                                                              Zeppelin, Iron                                                                                                             buried in his driving    Speedway in
car called “Star         understand better if       55, driver                                                                 laps. The Brook Park,   Modifieds                Olympia, Wash., had                                                        installer in Dayton,
                                                                              Butterfly and The                                                                                                          suit.                    Brandon, S.D.
Fighter,” was            it were somebody           Sept. 2, 2000                                                              Ohio, auto body         Association.             triple bypass surgery                                                      Minn., he was
                                                                              Doors. Bailey, from
engaged when he          rough-and-tumble.          Dushek, from North
                                                                              Leonard, Mich., left                             repairman died later.                            in 1999, but his wife,        –––––––                  –––––––             paralyzed and lived
died.                    But why him?”              Fort Myers, Fla., was
                                                                              behind teen-age        DALE EARNHARDT            His wife sued,               –––––––             Diane, said his                                                            for three years after
                                                    an electrician who                                                         alleging inadequate                              doctor cleared him                                                         the accident. His
     –––––––                  –––––––               often did small           daughters,             49, driver
                                                                                                     Feb. 18, 2001             medical response.                                to race. “He drove                                                         wife filled the den
                                                    electrical jobs free of   Harmony and                                                                                                                                                                  with racing
                         LARRY BOWEN                                          Melody, whose          Earnhardt, the            Track officials said                             his car to heaven,”
                         46, driver                 charge for people                                                          they thought he had                              she said.                                                                  memorabilia and
                                                                              mother died when       Kannapolis, N.C.,
                         July 9, 2000               down on their luck.                                                        mechanical                                                                                                                  hung a sign: ’’The
                                                                              they were young.       native who won
                         Bowen, a 20-year           He had a heart
                                                                                                     seven NASCAR              problems, and                                         –––––––                                                               Wreck Room.’’ He
                         racing veteran from        attack at Charlotte
                                                    County (Fla.)
                                                                                  –––––––            championships, died       responded when                                                                                                              died from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           meningitis, a
                         Marble Falls, Texas,                                                        300 yards from the        they recognized                                  PAT KNIGHT
                         died of a heart            Speedway, crashed         GREG OLHAVA                                      trouble.                                         43, driver               DEAN ROPER               BILL LOCKHART            complication from
                                                                              47, driver             Daytona 500 finish                                                                                  62, driver
                         attack during a drag       and died.                                                                                          RALPH W. RIDGE III       June 17, 2001                                     52, driver               the crash.
                                                                                                     line after his car
ADAM PETTY               race at Lone Star                                    Oct. 14, 2000                                        –––––––             54, driver               Knight, from Eagan,      Aug. 19, 2001            Sept. 8, 2001
19, driver               Raceway Park in
                                                         –––––––              Olhava, a 20-year      slammed head-on
                                                                                                                                                       May 26, 2001             Minn., was driving       Roper suffered a         Lockhart’s stock car
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                –––––––
                                                                              drag racing veteran    into a wall. His                                                                                    heart attack – his
May 12, 2000             Sealy, Texas,                                                               hard-driving style                                Ridge, a funeral         between 135 and                                   ran off Lake City
Petty, from              according to                                         from Salem, Wis.,                                                        home owner in            150 mph at Rock          second – on lap 17 of    (Fla.) Speedway and
                                                                              was testing brakes     earned him fame                                                                                     an ARCA race at the
Randleman, N.C.,         published reports.                                                          well beyond the                                   Michigan, had a          Falls Raceway in                                  struck a guardrail
was the fourth           He won many races                                    in the pits when his                                                     heart attack and         Wisconsin when his       Illinois State           about 140 feet from
                                                                              car accelerated and    track. Fans traveled                                                                                Fairgrounds. The
generation of            in the red                                                                  hundreds of miles to                              crashed into a wall      car crashed. He was                               the track, shearing
stock-car racing         “Bubbaland                                           flipped over at                                                          during the last lap at   a production             longtime stock car       off the car’s top. His
                                                                              Indianapolis           an impromptu                                                                                        driver from Fair
drivers. He died in an   Express” dragster.                                                          memorial at his                                   Michigan’s Grattan       manager for a                                     ashes were
accident during                                                               Raceway Park. The                                                        Raceway Park, said       company that             Grove, Mo., had lost     scattered at the
                                                                                                     Mooresville, N.C.,
practice at New               –––––––                                         data processing
                                                                                                     race shop. “No one        MARK WILSON             friend Phaeton Bird.     makes cell phone         a son 10 months          track. “I’ve seen Bill
Hampshire                                                                     consultant had four                              30, driver              Ridge was                mounts for driving.      earlier in a truck       go through balls of      JIMMY JONES
                                                    TIM TODD                                         will ever replace                                                                                   racing accident.
International                                                                 children.                                        April 14, 2001          diagnosed with                                                             fire; I’ve seen him go   26, driver
                                                    52, driver                                       him,” said racer
Speedway. At his                                    Sept. 3, 2000                 –––––––            Rusty Wallace,            A grandson of sprint    cancer two years              –––––––                  –––––––             through clouds of        Oct. 21, 2001
funeral, attended by                                Todd, the owner of a                                                       car legend Bob          earlier and                                                                dirt,” his wife,         A graphic artist in
                                                                                                     “neither in our sport
more than 1,000                                     Bay Village, Ohio,                                                         Trostle, Wilson died    apparently had                                                             Melanie said. “I don’t   Indianapolis, Jones
                                                                                                     or in our hearts.”
people, his sister                                  industrial                                                                 when his car’s          beaten the disease,                                                        know how this could      died in a crash
promised to name a                                  engineering firm,                                     –––––––              suspension broke,       Bird said.                                                                 have happened.”          during the Fall
child after Adam.                                   had a heart attack                                                         sending him into the                                                                                                        Festival race at
                                                    during a race at the                                                       wall at his                  –––––––                                                                                        Indianapolis
     –––––––             PETE FRAZIER               Mid-Ohio Sports Car                                                        hometown track,                                                                                                             Raceway Park.
JIMMY OLSON              42, driver                 Course.                                                                    Knoxville (Iowa)                                                                                                            Hundreds attended
15, driver               July 23, 2000                                                                                         Raceway. Wilson,                                                                                                            his funeral. “The
                         A father of two from                                                                                  who left a wife, son                             CHANDLER BRUNING                                                           people at the funeral
June 2, 2000                                                                  TONY ROPER                                                                                                                 TIM BOSWELL
                         Broken Arrow, Okla.,                                                                                  and four                                         31, driver                                                                 home said they’d
Olson, a rising high                                                          35, driver                                                                                                                 35, driver
                         Frazier made his                                                                                      stepchildren, had                                June 28, 2001                                                              never seen anything
school sophomore,                                                             Oct. 14, 2000                                                                                                              Aug. 25, 2001
                         living building car                                                                                   returned to racing in                            Bruning, from                                                              like it,” said his
lost control of a                                                             Roper’s truck          MICHAEL ROBERTS                                                                                     Boswell, from
                         frames and racing.                                                                                    2000 after a                                     Colorado Springs,                                                          father, James. “They
pickup truck and hit                                                          collided with two      50, driver                                                                                          Copley, Ohio, died
                         He died when his car                                                                                  five-year absence.      WALTER BAILEY            Colo., died during                                                         said it was like the
a concrete wall at                                                            others, then struck    March 24, 2001                                                                                      after his car hit a
                         slammed to the                                                                                                                43, driver               Pikes Peak                                                                 president died.”
Lake Geneva (Wis.)                                                            a wall at Texas        Roberts died                                                                                        track wall, then
                         ground after                                                                                                                  June 2, 2001             International Hill
Raceway, police                                                               Motor Speedway,        practicing for his                                                                                  crashed through
                         colliding with                                                                                                                The car driven by        Climb qualifying
said. Olson, from                                                             killing the Fair       first race when his                                                                                 trees and billboards
                         another at Dutton’s                                                                                                           Bailey, a mechanic       when his car missed
Woodstock, Ill., had                                                          Grove, Mo. driver.     car hit a wall at                                                                                   outside Barberton
                         (Okla.) Speedway.                                                                                                             from Dillon, S.C.,       a turn, went
been racing                                                                   His father, Dean, a    Lebanon (Mo.) I-44                                                                                  Speedway in
                         His funeral drew                                                                                                              who loved to fish,       airborne and was
high-speed go-karts                                                           well-known driver      Speedway. The                                                                                       Norton, Ohio.
                         more than 1,500                                                                                                               flew off the track       impaled on a tree. A
since he was 8.                                                               in the Midwest, died   Milwaukee                                                                                           Boswell was a
                         people.                                                                                                                       during a stock race      year earlier, his
                                                                              in a race 10 months    businessman spent                                                                                   substitute driver
                                                                                                                                                       at Carolina              father, also a driver,
                                                                              later.                 more than                                                                                           that night and died
                                                                                                                                                       Speedway near his        had died of cancer.
                                                                                                     $100,000 for a car                                                                                  at the track where
                                                                                                                                                       hometown. His neck       Bruning had spread
                                                                                                     and training, said his                                                                              he and his wife,
                                                                                                                                                       broke when the car       his father’s ashes on
                                                                                                     sister, Kathy: “I don’t                                                                             Libby, his
                                                                                                                                                       landed on its nose       the same hill on
                                                                                                     think he knew the                                                                                   high-school
                                                                                                                                                       by a ditch.              which he died.
                                                                                                     danger of this.”                                                                                    sweetheart, had
                                                                                                                                                                                                         their first date.


                                                                                    S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1          9N      T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                               [WHO’S WATCHING ]

    DEATH AT THE TRACK                          There’s little agreement on standards, and who should set them


Who’s in charge of safety?
           By Liz Chandler
                Staff Writer
                                               TRAGEDY AT A SMALL TRACK IN OHIO
   When 36 people died from inju-
ries playing football in 1968, the
multiple groups running the sport
decided that was intolerable.
   They came together to study in-
juries and deaths, improved the
helmets and changed the rules.
   In 1990, no one died from foot-
ball injuries. On average, four a
year die now.
   Today, auto racing faces a death
count that most opinion-makers
agree is intolerable. But disagree-
ment clouds what to do next.
   At least 33 people have been killed in
racing this year. Its rate of death is more
than five times that of football’s.
   Pressure to improve racing’s safety
record has never been greater, intensi-
fied mostly by NASCAR superstar Dale
Earnhardt’s death in February. Outside
safety advocates – doctors, engineers
and firefighters – are pushing for im-
provement, as are some racing insiders.
   “There have been too many tragedies
during races that may have been pre-
vented by utilizing new safety initia-
tives...to better protect drivers, the audi-
ence and the crew,” said a January letter
to NASCAR from the American Society
of Safety Engineers, a workplace safety
group that offered its expertise.
   Racing has resisted efforts to centrally
collect and share information on injuries
and deaths. A fear of lawsuits and the
price attached to liability underlies the                                                                                                                                                                           JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTOS
resistance.                                     Ginger Jakupca’s family went to its first race, at Lorain County Speedway, in July. She never imagined it might be unsafe. In the accident, two of her children’s legs
   “We’re into safety a little bit, but with    were broken – and her youngest son, Tommy, was barely yanked to safety. “I almost lost my children at a sports event,” she says. “There’s just no excuse for that.”
our lawsuit-crazy society, we can only          From left front are her children, Candace, Tommy and Steven; middle rear is the oldest son, B.J.; and in the middle are Ginger and husband Tom.
recommend things. We can’t make them
mandatory or we might get sued if
something happens,” says Bert Emick, a
sprint-car race organizer, whose group
relies on insurers and tracks to keep
                                                                                                                                            Grandmother killed,
                                                                                                                                            13 injured on July night
races safe.
   Some influential racing leaders say
their overall approach to safety works.
Within their own organizations, they
pay attention to deaths and, sometimes,                                                                                                                              By Liz Chandler
react with changes. For most groups, in-                                                                                                                                  Staff Writer
cluding NASCAR, the safety network                                                                                                            CLEVELAND — From her wheelchair just 30 feet from the
amounts to word-of-mouth among
teams, engineers and manufacturers.                                                                                                         track, Virginia Whyel watched the races at Ohio’s Lorain
   The 200 groups that organize racing                                                                                                      County Speedway. Near midnight on July 21, two cars sailed
events, generally, don’t collect or share
                                                                                                                                            over a guardrail, through a fence and into spectators.
safety information. Most groups know
                                               James Harsh was killed by a car as he watched a 1990 race from the track’s pits.               “I saw a big cloud in the area where my family was sitting,”
who died within their ranks, but they                                                                                                                                                                                 Virginia
                                               His family marked the 11th anniversary of his death with flowers – the same
don’t collect details of how they died.                                                                                                     says Scott Whyel, who had raced earlier that night. “I ran to-            Whyel, 64,
                                               night the track held a memorial for Virginia Whyel, killed there a week earlier.
Police collect more information in traffic                                                                                                                                                                            used a wheel-
accidents than most racing groups.                                                                                                          ward them and I started looking for my mother. I couldn’t find
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chair after
   In the 1980s, the International Council                                                                                                  her. Then I saw her lying on the ground.”                                 hip surgery.
for Motorsports Sciences – a group of                          Kathy Williams,
                                                                                                                                              Whyel, 64, was killed and 13 others injured.                            She was
doctors and engineers affiliated with                       one of 13 injured at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      months from
racing – voted to collect accident in-                               Lorain, was                                                              “The guardrail acted as a ramp,” says detective Shawn Hada-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      retirement
formation from leading racing organiz-                      hospitalized with a                                                             way. “Whether things were up to specifications, that’s between            when she
ers.                                                             broken leg and
                                                                                                                                            NASCAR, the track, and the insurance company.” NASCAR                     was killed.
   Most groups declined to participate.                       gashes after one
Some said they lacked the staff. Others                         of the race cars                                                            sanctions 90 such short tracks, charging a $1,200 fee per race
worried about lawsuits – including                            pinned her in the
                                                                                                                                            and allowing tracks to use the NASCAR name.
NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., who                         stands. “I thought
                                                                  I was going to                                                              The week after the crash, workers raised and strengthened
called a bank of information “a fishpond
for plaintiffs’ attorneys,” the Orlando                           die,” says the                                                            the guardrail and fence, only at Turn 4 where the cars crashed.
Sentinel reported.                                           55-year-old motel
                                                                                                                                              Racing resumed the next Saturday, the day the family memo-
   The effort failed because insurance                            housekeeper.
companies feared industrywide acci-                                                                                                         rialized Virginia Whyel. Track fans raised $2,400 for her family.
dent data could be used against racing
groups in court, said Dr. Steve Olvey, di-
rector of medical affairs for CART.
   “They were afraid it would lead to set-     “We all choose different things to do that     Mo., insures 60 percent of small tracks.      pany demands.                                        It begins with cooperation, Mueller
ting standards, and that if you couldn’t       have an element of risk in them, whether          “We do our best to make sure that we          “How high does the fence have to be,           said.
live up to standards – that might be a lia-    you drive to work, go on a vacation, ride      insure a good risk, a profitable risk, that   to be safe? To be completely honest, no-             “If nobody is collecting information
bility issue,” said Olvey.                     on a plane or work in a building.”             won’t result in claims.…(But) agencies        body knows,” Hatlem said. “Ten years              you don’t know what’s causing these cat-
   The fragmented racing world and its            Racetracks lack a standard blueprint        are reluctant to get into safety standards,   ago, people decided an 8- to 10-foot fence        astrophic injuries, and whether there’s
fears of being sued have so far stifled col-   on safety. CART and IRL demand some            because that makes us liable.”                was fine, but it’s not that way any more.”        anything you can do to prevent them,”
laboration and unity.                          safety measures at tracks. NASCAR en-             Insurers push the use of liability waiv-      Speedway Motor Sports chose not to             said Mueller.
   Some organizations inside and out-          courages tracks to have “adequate” and         ers to guard against lawsuits from driv-      raise its 15-foot fence at Lowe’s Motor              Based at UNC Chapel Hill, the center
side racing want national standards for        “reasonable” fences and barriers, but          ers and those working in or watching          Speedway – despite a wreck in Michigan            played a key role in collecting data about
tracks and a central clearinghouse for in-     isn’t specific. Track owners rely on com-      from garages and pits.                        that sent a tire over a 141⁄2-foot fence, kill-   injuries and deaths in football. It also
jury statistics and research.                  mon sense and insurers.                           Courts typically uphold those liability    ing three fans. In 1999, a similar wreck          keeps statistics on most college and high
   Others say that’s not necessary.               Insurance companies, however, say           releases, which state that participants       with the same fenderless cars killed              school sports.
   NASCAR, among the largest groups,           they’re not safety experts either. They        waive their rights even if tracks are neg-    three fans at Lowe’s.                                Mueller says the center would act as a
gives safety top priority and reacts after     set minimum requirements for such              ligent. That shield also reduces incen-          “We thought what we had was                    repository for racing death and injury in-
crashes, President Mike Helton said. He        things as fence heights, barriers and age      tives to improve safety.                      enough, but it wasn’t,” said Lowe’s               formation – if the sport wants the help.
said the informal information network is       of participants. Periodically, they also in-      Fans in the stands, however, don’t sign    speedway president H.A “Humpy”                       “When you’re driving over 100 miles
“adequate and appropriate.”                    spect tracks. But even insurance stan-         waivers. Claims are high when fans get        Wheeler. Speedway Motor Sports,                   per hour, there are probably always go-
   After Earnhardt, however, Helton ac-        dards vary widely.                             hurt, so agents say they focus on fences      which owns Lowe’s, has since installed            ing to be some catastrophic injuries and
knowledged that NASCAR had to “take               “We have minimum standards, but we          and other fan protections.                    21-foot fences at its four large ovals.           deaths,” he says. “But there are probably
the (safety) deal to a new level.” So it or-   don’t profess to be safety experts,” says         The larger tracks, generally, carry be-       International Speedway Corp., the na-          ways to make things safer.”
dered drivers to use head restraints and       David Hatlem of K&K Insurance Group            tween $10 million and $100 million in in-     tion’s largest racetrack company, won’t              Other safety advocates are pushing
decided to install crash data recorders in     in Fort Wayne, Ind., one of the nation’s       surance to protect them in fan accidents.     divulge fence heights at its 12 tracks, in-       for changes too.
its national racing series cars, as CART       largest racetrack insurers. “We won’t is-      Small NASCAR tracks carry a minimum           cluding Daytona International Speed-                 The National Fire Protection Associa-
had done.                                      sue a policy if a track doesn’t meet our       of $2 million. But some small tracks          way, except to say they range from 16 to          tion wants rescue standards at tracks.
   NASCAR also plans to open a re-             minimums, but that doesn’t mean                carry far less coverage – or none, said Al-   22 feet. ISC and NASCAR are both con-                The American College of Sports Med-
search center in Conover, 40 miles             they’re not going to get someone else to       lan Brown, publisher of the National          trolled by the France family.                     icine is studying the sport and expects a
northwest of Charlotte. Engineers will         insure them.”                                  Speedway Directory.                              ISC considers its fence sizes propri-          report before the 2002 racing season.
focus partly on safety, partly on compet-         Hatlem says K&K closely follows loss           “The frequency is not that dramatic,       etary. “One thing we don’t talk a lot                Racing insiders worry if the industry
itive strategies.                              claims at its tracks and suggests im-          but the severity is,” K&K Insurance           about is safety,” said David Talley, ISC          fails to address safety, the government
   Race organizers, such as Helton, say        provements. Racing, he says, presents “a       Group’s Hatlem says of fan injuries.          spokesman. “That’s always something               will intervene.
their primary job is to put on races. It’s     potent mix” of risks with high speeds,         “When you get one, they are very, very        we talk about in generics.”                          “The day a car goes into the stands
up to drivers and tracks to ensure safety.     flying parts and fans close to the action.     large claims.”                                   Football reduced its risks by devel-           and kills a bunch of people is the day that
   NASCAR distances itself from re-               Other insurance companies aren’t               Still, with no universal standards,        oping a system, said Fred Mueller, who            Congress will look at this sport and pass
sponsibility in its rulebook: “NASCAR          comfortable making suggestions. They           fence heights vary from about 9 feet at       directs the National Center for Cata-             legislation,” says Jon Potter of the In-
cannot be and is not responsible for all       simply write policies based on the risks.      small tracks to 22 feet at some – but not     strophic Sport Injury Research.                   ternational Council for Motorsports Sci-
or even most aspects of the safety ef-            “We’re salesmen. We’re just putting         all – large tracks. Some variance is ap-         The various groups that ran the sport          ences. “Until then, you’ll keep seeing
fort.…The risk of serious injury or death      together an insurance program in the           propriate, agents say, depending on a         shared information and studied injuries.          these things that happen around the
cannot be eliminated and, in fact, will al-    racing industry,” says George England,         track’s design and the type of cars racing.   Then they banned head-first blocking              country – unless the industry comes to-
ways be present at a high level.”              who says his North American Racing In-         Track owners rely on what seems to            and tackling, and raised standards for            gether to tackle these problems we all
   Helton said drivers know the risks.         surance Co., based in Independence,            have worked or what the insurance com-        helmets.                                          know exist.”


                                                                     S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   10N T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                              [ WHO’S WATCHING ]

    DEATH AT THE TRACK                          ‘It’s a tough course,’ says track president Wheeler


Death toll highest at Lowe’s
           By Liz Chandler                                                                                                                                                                 Wheeler phoned him weeks later and
               Staff Writer
                                                                                                                                                                                           asked whether the Sportsman should
   Since 1990, more people have                                                                                                                                                            continue. Phillips told him: “You don’t
                                                                                                                                                                                           want to hear what I think. I’ve lost my
died at Lowe’s Motor Speedway                                                                                                                                                              brother and my best friend.”
than at any other U.S. track.                                                                                                                                                                 Phillips’ death ended the Sportsman
   Seven people were killed in                                                                                                                                                             at all three tracks that staged it.
                                                                                                                                                                                              “The three deaths we had, you can
races at the Charlotte-area speed-                                                                                                                                                         look at that as the most unlucky things
way, including three spectators in                                                                                                                                                         in the world,” Wheeler said. “I’ve
the grandstands, and three drivers                                                                                                                                                         thought and thought about that Sports-
                                                                                                                                                                                           man race. If hindsight were foresight,
killed in an experimental division                                                                                                                                                         you certainly wouldn’t have done that.”
for racers trying to gain experi-                                                                                                                                                             Lowe’s next death didn’t happen in a
ence on large tracks.                                                                                                                                                                      race, and is excluded from the Observ-
                                                                                                                                                                                           er’s study of deaths in racing. In 1997,
   Another death came in Octo-                                                                                                                                                             Charles McNish – a 57-year-old glass
ber, when up-and-coming driver                                                                                                                                                             company owner from Missouri –
                                                                                                                                                                                           crashed during a racing school event.
Blaise Alexander Jr. hit the wall.                                                                                                                                                            In 1999, Wheeler brought the Indy
                                                                                                                                                                                           Racing League to Lowe’s. The race fea-
   “It’s a tough course,” said track Presi-                                                                                                                                                tured cars with no fenders, and wheels
dent H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler. “I think                                                                                                                                                        that jut from the car’s body. Faster than
we’ve reacted strongly to try to make it                                                                                                                                                   stock cars, they top 200 mph and disin-
safer...but at the same time you’re al-                                                                                                                                                    tegrate on impact to carry the energy
ways on the edge in racing.”                                                                                                                                                               away from the driver.
   The track’s size, D-shape and high                                                                                                                                                         A year earlier, three spectators were
banks require more maneuvering by                                                                                                                                                          killed at a similar event in Michigan,
drivers than most tracks, Wheeler said.                                                                                                                                                    when a tire flew over the 141⁄2-foot fence
   In the mid-1960s, three drivers – in-                                                                                                                                                   into the stands.
cluding renowned racer Fireball Rob-                                                                                                                                                          Lowe’s examined its 15-foot fence and
erts – were killed. Three more people                                                                                                                                                      decided it was high enough to protect
died in the 1970s. Nobody died in the                                                                                                                                                      fans. It wasn’t.
1980s.                                                                                                                                                                                        During an accident, a car knocked a
   The speedway vastly increased the                                                                                                                                                       loose tire into the stands – killing three
number of events during the 1990s.                                                                                                                                                         people and injuring eight.
Some of them proved riskier than its tra-                                                                                                                                                     Randy Pyatte of Connelly Springs
ditional stock-car events.                                                                                                                                                                 died at 21. Hickory’s Jeff Patton was 32.
   Wheeler created the Sportsman race                                                                                                                                                      Dexter Mobley, 41, of Statesville, also
in 1989 to give short-track racers experi-                                                                                                                                                 was killed.
ence on large, fast speedways.                                                                                                                                 COURTESY OF JOHN PHILLIPS      Since then, Speedway Motor Sports –
   “We don’t want to lose sight of a po-      Driver Russell Phillips wanted to move up in racing. He was unfazed by the spectacular crashes in NASCAR’s Sportsman                         which owns Lowe’s – has raised fences
tential young Dale Earnhardt, a hungry,       division, designed for drivers trying to gain experience on large speedways. “He wanted to make it big, run with Earnhardt,”                 to 21 feet at its four large oval tracks.
no-money driver who wants to win,             his brother, John, said. “He wanted to be famous.” Phillips was the third fatality in seven years of the Sportsman division.                    The most recent death at Lowe’s
win, win,” Wheeler said at the time.                                                                                                                                                       came in October, when Blaise Alexan-
   Sanctioned by NASCAR, the race             “God knows I’ve seen enough of them.           and even flashed a thumbs-up. The fire,         In 1995, he became the Sportsman’s            der Jr. crashed during an ARCA (Auto-
drew a range of talent and equipment.         It’s the dark side of what we do.”             however, consumed him.                       third fatality in seven years.                   mobile Racing Club of America) race –
The only requirement was a driver’s li-          In 1991, one driver broke his neck and         At the hospital, Batson looked at his        As Phillips rounded a turn, his               a developmental division for drivers.
cense and some short-track experience.        another was badly burned. Phil Ross of         close friend, Roy, and began to cry. “He     brother radioed that he should steer to             Alexander, 25, died from a skull frac-
   The results were chaotic – and             Greer, S.C., still has his charred fire suit   knew. You could tell he knew where           the outside to avoid a wreck. Phillips re-       ture much like the one that killed Dale
deadly.                                       and scars. He quit racing that day.            things were headed,” said Roy Barrett.       sponded but another car veered into              Earnhardt in February. Neither racer
   In 1990, David Gaines, 27, died during        “I wanted to be here to raise my kids       Gary Batson, 40, died the next day.          him, flipping his car onto its side and          wore head restraints.
practice after his spinning car came to a     and be with my wife,” said Ross.                  The Sportsman race became known           sending it scraping along the catch                 “These deaths really take a toll on the
stop, and was broadsided by another              Gary Batson bought Ross’ car. He was        for spectacular wrecks: A 12-car pileup      fence, shearing off the top. Phillips, 26,       families and friends and the townships
driver with little large-track experience.    a short-track racer who ran a restaurant       in 1992. A nine-car crash in 1993. A fiery   was killed instantly. Workers cleaned            where they’re from,” said Roy Barrett,
   “There was too much inexperience,”         in Travelers Rest, S.C. He wanted to           crash and an eight-car wreck in 1994.        the track, and the race resumed.                 among the last people to talk to Gary
said Gaines’ father, Jerry, a race-car        move up in motorsports, so in 1992, he            Russell Phillips, of Mint Hill, dodged       “The stage was set for disaster from          Batson as he lay dying from burns. “Ev-
owner who financed his son’s hobby.           entered a Sportsman race.                      most of the mayhem. He raced in 16           Day 1,” said Phillips’ brother, John, who        erybody remembers Gary and what
“Anybody could have raced. You didn’t            Batson’s car collided with another,         Sportsman events and had one crash           urged Russell to stick with short tracks.        happened to him. They still talk about it
need any credentials.”                        flipped onto its side and burst into           that damaged his car severely enough            Wheeler said he decided that day to           around here. Stuff like that, you can’t get
   Wheeler called it a racing accident.       flames. He wasn’t injured in the impact,       that he missed a race.                       stop the series. John Phillips said              over.”




Q UICKER ACTION COULD SAVE LIVES



Tracks’ fire, medic response often lacking
                –––––––                       firetruck, he says.                                                                                                                          died. Martin Bond, who managed the
                                                 “There’s nobody governing what                                                                                                            track then, says he had fire extinguish-
In 18 cases, including 15                     racetracks have to have or racetracks                                                                                                        ers and an ambulance.
deaths, victims and families                  don’t have to have,” Pikron says. “May-                                                                                                          “It’s an accident that happened and it
                                              be there should be.”                                                                                                                         happens every night in the country and
say rescue wasn’t adequate                       Emergency response administered                                                                                                           it’ll keep happening,” says Bond. “If you
                –––––––                       quickly by well-trained and properly                                                                                                         have 19 firetrucks, it’ll keep happening.”
                                              equipped workers is critical to saving                                                                                                           Sprint-car legend Doug Wolfgang
         By Diane Suchetka                    lives and reducing injuries.                                                                                                                 was driving in a practice session at
               Staff Writer                      “There is definitely a golden hour,                                                                                                       Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City,
   On Aug. 12, 2000, two laps into a          where it is very important that a person                                                                                                     Kan., April 3, 1992, when his car hit a tire
150-lap stock car race outside Tacoma,        who is severely injured, particularly                                                                                                        at the edge of the track, and he crashed
Wash., driver Mike Easley slammed on          with an internal injury, get to a trauma                                                                                                     into a concrete wall.
his brakes to avoid a two-car wreck. A        center,” says Dr. Kathleen Clem, a                                                                                                               Wolfgang sat in his car, unconscious,
third car crashed next to Easley. A           spokeswoman for the American Col-                                                                                                            as methanol fuel pooled at his feet, then
fourth slammed into the third and             lege of Emergency Physicians. . “Some                                                                                                        ignited. Two firefighters – not the
crushed metal and fuel exploded into a        very critical procedures need to be                                                                                                          track’s usual five to seven – struggled to
three-story ball of fire throwing burning     done right away.”                                                                                                                            extinguish the blaze.
gasoline onto Easley.                            The National Fire Protection Associ-                                                                                                          No firetruck was on the scene. And,
   The driver burst into flames.              ation in Quincy, Mass., agrees some-                                                                                                         according to a lawsuit Wolfgang filed,
   The first person to come to his rescue     thing should be done to reduce the risk                                                                         SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER   the firefighters had only pry bars to ex-
was a photographer who told reporters         of death and injury in racing. It is one of    Mike Easley’s face shows scars from burns he suffered in a race accident last year            tricate him, instead of a more sophis-
that Easley’s helmet had melted into his      at least two organizations writing safety      at a speedway outside Tacoma, Wash. There was no firetruck at the race.                       ticated tool such as Jaws of Life.
face, that he could see the driver’s eyes     and rescue recommendations for                                                                                                                   Fellow drivers freed Wolfgang from
through the fire, that he could hear him      tracks.                                        able attending.”                             copter if the closest trauma hospital is         his car. But not before he burned for
scream: “Please save my life. Save my            “The typical track owner is not a safe-        The amount tracks spend on safety         more than 10 minutes away.                       more than eight minutes.
life.”                                        ty person,” says the association’s Carl        varies from free admission for firefight-       “All of these things have evolved be-             In a rare situation for racing, a jury
   No firetruck was at the race. And          Peterson. “Not that they’re ignoring           ers who agree to help, to $250 for an am-    cause there were problems in the past,”          found the conduct of the track and the
news accounts described drivers pull-         safety, it’s just not high on the list of      bulance, to hundreds of thousands of         says Dr. Stephen Olvey, CART’s direc-            sanctioning body, World of Outlaws,
ing extinguishers from their cars and         things they’re thinking about.”                dollars for sophisticated mini-hospitals.    tor of medical affairs, who helped im-           wanton and reckless. A judge ordered
fans throwing water bottles and ice              Most of the tracks that the injured            About 300 firefighters, paramedics        plement the standards in the 1980s.              them to pay Wolfgang $1.2 million.
chests onto the track to help.                and their families said were lacking in        and other emergency workers staffed          “You have to keep these tracks honest.”              The verdict, Wolfgang says, shows
   The accident put Easley in the hospi-      equipment were small. And smaller              each of the big races at Lowe’s Motor           Before CART instituted the regula-            that what happened to him was wrong.
tal for more than a month with third-         tracks, experts say, often have less mon-      Speedway last month. Among the phy-          tions, Olvey says, one track had a retired       “What it didn’t do was force anybody to
degree burns over 42 percent of his           ey coming in and less to spend on safety.      sicians at the track were four – each        OB/gyn as a medical director. Another            actually do anything.”
body. But he survived.                           “Often there’s not even an ambulance        with a different medical specialty – who     had a dentist.                                       There are things that can be done to
   His case is one of at least 15 deaths      on site,” says Chief Craig Clarke, found-      manned the infield-care center, a fully         Many complaints from families cen-            improve emergency response at tracks,
and three serious injuries in which vic-      er of Track Rescue Fire Department             equipped emergency room run by Car-          ter on the lack of firetrucks. While ev-         safety experts say. Those include estab-
tims or their families claim emergency        Motorsports Safety Team, a private             olinas Medical Center. Also ready to         ery situation is different, a vehicle with       lishing and enforcing national stan-
response was inadequate, The Observer         company that supplies emergency                help were 30 ambulances, 15 firetrucks       at least 100 gallons of water and 150            dards, hiring only trained firefighters
has found.                                    equipment and workers to tracks                and 500 extinguishers.                       pounds of chemical fire-fighting mate-           and medical workers and requiring rac-
   Those who were injured, as well as         throughout the Eastern United States.             The cost of emergency services at         rial, is generally the best minimum de-          ers to wear safety gear.
their families and safety experts told           Insurance companies generally insist        Lowe’s Motor Speedway exceeds $1 mil-        fense against a large fuel fire. But, ex-            “I am living proof that if you have
The Observer of tracks that have staged       on ambulances and trained rescuers at          lion annually, track officials say.          perts say, the truck should be one part of       good safety equipment, you can sur-
races with no tools to cut drivers free,      races, but not firetrucks, says Jeff Poz-         Championship Auto Racing Teams            an overall fire protection plan.                 vive,” says Easley, who wore a triple-
no trained rescue workers, no fire-           mantier, president of Wisenberg Insur-         Inc., which runs one of the nation’s two        There was no firetruck at Enid Motor          layer fire suit.
trucks, no ambulances                         ance + Risk Management, which insures          prominent Indy car leagues, requires all     Speedway in Oklahoma on Aug. 28,                     But someone, he says, ought to re-
   Track owner Dan Pikron says he had         more than 150 tracks.                          20 tracks that host its races every year     1999, the night Delmar “Junior” Riggins’         quire tracks to provide decent medical
an ambulance, two firefighters and 37            “Ultimately the racer needs to decide       to meet five pages of safety require-        car was hit from behind. His fuel tank           and rescue care too.
extinguishers – and every one of them         if he or she is comfortable competing at       ments. All tracks, no matter their size,     cracked and burst into flames.                       “Even horse tracks are regulated,”
was used – the night Easley burned. The       a track,” Pozmantier says, “and specta-        must have a licensed physician who              More than three-fourths of Riggins’           Easley says. “They have to have a veteri-
company that insures him required no          tors need to decide if they are comfort-       serves as medical director and a heli-       body was burned. Four days later, he             narian or they can’t race.”


                                                                    S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   11N T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                    [ ON THE TRACK ]

   DEATH AT THE TRACK                           The ill, the reckless and the young can get behind the wheel



Few tracks limit drivers
         By Ames Alexander
                Staff Writer

   Ron Biellier was in no condition
to drive a race car.
   The 45-year-old Missouri sales-
man had already had a massive
heart attack. It left him so weak,
his brother said, he could barely
walk across a room without pant-
ing. His doctor warned him not to
do anything physical. His brother
pleaded with him to stop racing.
   But Biellier wasn’t about to quit.
In July 1994, he headed to Speed-
way U.S.A. in Bolivar, Mo., for his
first race since the heart attack a
year earlier. Minutes into the race,
his car came to a stop near a wall.
A second heart attack had ended
his life.
   “He shouldn’t have been doing
what he was doing,” said Biellier’s
brother, Don. “He knew that. But
that was his love.”


   Every weekend, at tracks around the
nation, racing officials open the gates to
potentially dangerous drivers. They
sometimes allow competitors so unfit
they couldn’t pass a physical, so young
they couldn’t get a driver’s license, so
reckless they’re not allowed to drive on
public roadways.
   By doing so, some experts say, they
endanger not only their own lives, but
also those of track workers, other driv-
ers and spectators.

   Damaged hearts are danger in race                                                                                                                                                                               JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTO
                                               David Barnhardt, 15, prays with his father, David Sr., before a race at East Lincoln Speedway. About a third of tracks surveyed by The Observer allow youths to race
   Only a handful of states nationwide         before they’re old enough to get a driver’s license. Experts wonder if minors have enough judgment and experience to handle high-speed competition.
regulate racing, so it’s largely up to
tracks and racing associations to deter-       ries to take annual physicals.                   The state police officers who investi-     plans to reintroduce it next year. His ar-     drivers this year. He comes to North
mine who can compete. But tracks                  But thousands of drivers who race on       gated the wreck didn’t blame Willet or        gument: Racers ordinarily don’t need a         Carolina because New Jersey law
rarely turn away drivers.                      smaller tracks are never asked to take a      anyone else for the wreck.                    driver’s license to compete on such            doesn’t allow people his age to race.
   Racing can be addictive, drivers say.       physical. An Observer survey of nearly           Willet said the accident wasn’t his        tracks anyway.                                    Some safety experts and driver’s edu-
And some keep at it despite poor health.       100 race tracks nationwide found that         fault. One driver had pinned him against         Others contend tracks should turn           cation instructors question whether
   Since 1990, more than 30 drivers – at       more than 90 percent don’t require            the wall, he said, and another hit him        away racers convicted of drunken driv-         most minors have enough judgment
least eight this year alone – have died of     physicals for any drivers.                    from behind.                                  ing because lives depend on the quick          and experience to handle the demands
heart attacks during or immediately af-           Carl Merrill, a 62-year-old innkeeper         “I can’t change the situation, what        reflexes and good judgment of drivers.         of high-speed competition.
ter races, The Observer found.                 from Maine, insisted on staying active        happened,” said Willet, who owns an              “If your driver’s license is suspended         “You have to learn how to harness
   Many of them, including Jay Alan            despite a previous bypass surgery and         auto repair shop. “They blamed it all on      for drunken driving, you have no busi-         your exuberance,” says Potter, of the
Luecke, had prior heart attacks, but           three prior angioplasties. After his last     me because I was driving on the re-           ness in a race car,” says Jon Potter, direc-   Championship Drivers Association. “I
raced at tracks that didn’t require driv-      angioplasty in 1997, both his cardiolo-       voked list.”                                  tor of the Championship Drivers Asso-          don’t think a person who hasn’t at least
ers to submit to physical exams.               gist and his wife, Barbara, urged him to         Still, Innes’ daughter, Shirlene Tasko-    ciation, an Indianapolis-based group           obtained a driver’s license has that abili-
   In March of 1993, Luecke, 33, of Pinel-     stop road racing and to start taking it       witz, wonders why track officials were        that lobbies for safety improvements.          ty.”
las County, Fla., was still recovering         easy. But that wasn’t Merrill’s style. He     so easily fooled. “Why couldn’t Wall          “…It shows irresponsibility in life.”             Says Karl Logan, who coordinates
from a head-on crash that left him with        kept racing, jogging, skiing and roller-      Stadium find out all these things about                                                      driver’s education for Charlotte-Meck-
                                               blading.                                      their drivers?” she asked.
                                                                                                                                             Too young for licenses                       lenburg Schools: “As a general rule, I’d
24 broken bones. He had told friends he
was having chest pains, but he refused            Two weeks before an October 1998              The license that Willet presented to          In many states, youths too young to         say they’re not anywhere near ready. … I
to see a doctor. Days later, as Luecke         road rally in Arizona, Merrill was at a       the track had no photograph. New Jer-         drive on highways legally roar around          don’t think they’ve experienced enough
pulled off the track after a practice run, a   conference when he began sweating             sey doesn’t require photo identification      tracks at speeds that would scare most         to understand the importance and final-
heart attack killed him.                       profusely, a sign that he was probably        for race drivers, but Wall Stadium            adults.                                        ity of a potential crash or collision.”
   “I kept saying, ‘You’re not ready for       having another problem with clogged           owner Tucker Nicol said he thinks it             Fifteen-year-old Jimmy Olson loved             Only a few states set a minimum age
this kind of stuff,’ said Rick Litka, a fel-   arteries, his wife said. She urged him to     should. Nicol declined to comment on          wrestling, Roller-blading and, above all,      for privately owned tracks. Roughly a
low driver and a close friend of               see his cardiologist, but he refused.         the accident.                                 racing. He’d been driving go-karts since       third of the track managers interviewed
Luecke’s. “He just wasn’t in physical             “He didn’t want to miss that race in          In many states, it would have been         he was 8, and dreamed of becoming a            by The Observer said they don’t require
shape to drive a race car.”                    Arizona and he knew (his doctor)              even easier for Willet to race. New Jer-      championship driver.                           drivers to be at least 16.
   By measuring the amount of oxygen           would lay down the law,” Barbara Mer-         sey, Connecticut and Vermont are                 With his parents’ consent, the Wood-           At age 11, David Lucas told his mother
consumed by drivers, researchers have          rill said.                                    among the few states that set require-        stock, Ill. boy began racing a pickup          he wanted a race car. At 12, he got one –
found racing for two hours on a road              During the first phase of the road         ments for drivers. No Southeastern            truck last year. On June 2, 2000, Olson        a beat-up Toyota Corolla, which he took
course – an asphalt course that typically      rally, Merrill suffered a heart attack. His   states regulate racing or require a valid     was in the final lap of a race at Wiscon-      to Carolina Motor Speedway in Gasto-
has multiple left and right turns – re-        car veered off the road and into a tree. A    driver’s license for those who race on        sin’s Lake Geneva Raceway when he              nia last year and promptly flipped. The
quires about as much effort as running         day later, he was dead.                       private tracks. Not all tracks require, or    lost control and his truck plowed into a       pillow Lucas had been sitting on so he
15 eight-minute miles. Clearly, experts           The Sports Car Club of America,            regularly check, a driver’s license.          concrete wall at 60 mph. He died from          could see over the dashboard flew out
say, drivers should be in top physical         which sponsored the race, does ask               This year, Davidson resident Ron           head injuries before emergency work-           the window during the wreck. But Lu-
shape – and in elite racing circles, they      drivers in such races to answer an annu-      Tornatore raced at East Lincoln Motor         ers could get him to the hospital.             cas emerged from the car laughing and
usually are. But that’s not always the         al health questionnaire and divulge any       Speedway in Stanley, despite a license           Afterward, a Wisconsin state repre-         unhurt. From then on, he had a nick-
case on minor-league tracks.                   serious medical ailments, according to        suspension for driving while impaired.        sentative talked about proposing legis-        name: “Flipper.”
   Medical experts for Championship            Peter Lyon, who is in charge of the club’s    It was his second drunken driving con-        lation to set a minimum age for race car          Now 13 and a seventh-grader at Char-
Auto Racing Teams (CART) and the               insurance program. (The club wouldn’t         viction, and his N.C. driver’s license has    drivers. But the lawmaker abandoned            lotte’s Wilson Middle School, Lucas has
Indy Racing League (IRL) say those             disclose how Merrill answered those           been suspended repeatedly since 1995.         the idea after parents of young racers         improved his driving skills. This year,
with significant heart damage generally        questions.) But if drivers fail to admit      The clay oval, northwest of Charlotte,        lobbied against it.                            he ranked fourth in the track’s stock
shouldn’t race. Dr. Paul Colavita, a car-      health problems, there’s little the orga-     doesn’t require drivers to have a valid          Jimmy Olson’s father still believes his     four class. He typically drives about 60
diologist who heads Charlotte’s Sanger         nization can do, Lyon said.                   driver’s license, and Tornatore sees no       son had the right to race. “Some parents       mph, and hopes soon to try faster cars.
Clinic, agrees. He and others say the             “We’re not their mother,” he said.         reason why it should. Driving on the          do what they can to try to help their          His mother, Toni, supports him, but
physical and psychological stress driv-        “…It’s the driver’s responsibility.”          street and on a track are “totally differ-    children reach their goals,” said James        worries. Before each race, she recites a
ers experience during races can prove                                                        ent things,” Tornatore says.                  Olson. “Anything less than that is unac-       silent prayer: “Lord, please watch over
                                                 Checkered driving records                      “When you’re out on the track, there       ceptable.”                                     my little boy. Keep him safe while he
fatal to those with heart problems.
   John Jolley, a 53-year-old veterinarian        Many drivers are skilled and safety-       are no laws,” Tornatore said.                    Across the nation, thousands of             runs his 20 laps.”
from Forest City, had suffered a previ-        conscious. But some keep racing even             Ryan Jamison agrees that license re-       youngsters are strapping themselves               David Barnhardt, 15 and in 10th grade,
ous heart attack, and in 1990 had sur-         after they’ve been ruled unfit to drive on    vocations shouldn’t keep drivers off the      into race cars. Children as young as 5         has been racing since last year, mostly
gery to replace two heart valves. Be-          public highways.                              track. A star sprint car driver at 34 Race-   compete in go-kart and quarter-midget          in a small four-cylinder car that rarely
cause of his heart condition, the Federal         By 1994, Jeffrey Willet’s driver’s li-     way in Burlington, Iowa, he was ar-           races. Kids 7 to 17 race in “junior drag-      exceeds 65 mph. But at a September
Aviation Administration told him he            cense had been suspended more than            rested for drunken driving last year. His     sters” that can travel more than 70 mph.       race at East Lincoln, Barnhardt climbed
could no longer fly his small plane.           20 times – four times for drug violations     license was suspended for a year after        And some as young as 12 move up to             into a faster car – an eight-cylinder late-
   Jolley began driving a race car in 1997.    or drunken driving. A central New Jer-        he refused to take a Breathalyzer test.       full-size race cars. Many are inspired by      model, the most powerful class of cars
On Aug. 29 that year, during a race at         sey resident, Willet had been barred          But he kept racing, saying he didn’t          drivers like NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon,             at the track. As other cars sped around
Green Hill Speedway in Rutherford              from driving on public roads since 1985.      know state law forbids it.                    who got his start racing quarter-midgets       the track at 85 to 95 MPH, Barnhardt
County, Jolley had a fatal heart attack.          New Jersey, which does regulate rac-          Jamison, 33, contends he never drove       at age 51⁄2.                                   trailed the pack and spun out twice.
His car veered off the track and sailed        ing, requires racers to have a valid driv-    while drunk, but pleaded guilty to driv-         One indication of the sport’s growing          A Superman logo adorns the hood of
over a guardrail. Watching from behind         er’s license. But Willet began racing at      ing under the influence because prose-        popularity: Officials with the World           Barnhardt’s new race car. He earned
the guardrail, spectator Thomas Lee            Wall Stadium near Asbury Park in the          cutors had threatened to charge him           Karting Association estimate the num-          that nickname driving four-cylinder
Parker pushed his girlfriend and cousin        early 1990s by using a false name and         with driving while revoked if he took         ber of go-karters under 16 has roughly         cars. “I got a name for doing crazy
out of the way. Jolley’s Ford Thunder-         submitting an acquaintance’s driver’s li-     the case to trial.                            doubled during the past decade, to             things,” he says. He says he’s been in
bird hit Parker, 61, a retired truck driver    cense instead of his own.                        Jamison and his father didn’t think a      about 20,000 nationwide.                       about 10 or 12 wrecks.
from Spindale, and threw him into the             On June 18, 1994, Willet was on the        drunken-driving conviction should                Some youths outpace far older driv-            When Barnhardt switched to a faster
air. Parker died of massive head and           first lap of a race at Wall Stadium, jock-    keep him from racing. So they called on       ers. In 1998, 12-year-old Gerald Miller        racing class, some people told him he
chest injuries.                                eying for the lead, when his stock car        an acquaintance in the Iowa legislature       won the championship in the pure stock         didn’t have enough experience to drive
   “It was a freak accident, but it was        collided with another vehicle and was         – Rep. Dave Schrader, who also happens        four class – four-cylinder cars that usu-      such a big car and warned that he could
avoidable,” says Parker’s son, Dale. “If       launched into the air. Willet’s front,        to be a race car driver and an employee       ally go about 60 to 80 mph – at North          be killed in a crash, he said. But he never
you have any kind of heart problem, you        right wheel hit flagman Dave Innes in         at a track where Jamison has raced.           Carolina’s East Lincoln speedway. And          hesitated.
shouldn’t be allowed to race.”                 the head, knocking him from the flag          Schrader this year introduced a bill that     14-year-old Jon Denning, from New Jer-            “Don’t let anybody tell you that you
   A number of racing groups – in-             stand. Innes, a tour bus driver with a tal-   would have made it legal for drivers          sey, regularly drives over 100 mph at          can’t do anything,” Barnhardt says.
cluding CART, IRL, Formula One and             ent for making people laugh, soon died        with revoked licenses to race on private      Hickory Motor Speedway, where he               — STAFF WRITERS LIZ CHANDLER, ANDREW SHAIN
NASCAR – require drivers in major se-          of massive head injuries.                     tracks. The bill didn’t pass, but Schrader    was one of the top late-model stock car        AND PETER ST. ONGE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.



                                                                     S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   12N T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                        [ ON THE TRACK ]


                               Rooster Outlaw’s
                               pit crew hurries
                               to get him back
                               on the track at
                               Lancaster (S.C.)
                               Speedway. Pit
                               areas at small
                               tracks can be
                               chaotic, with
                               cars speeding in
                               and out, some
                               narrowly missing
                               spectators and
                               crew.




                                                                                                                                                                                      JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTOS
The viewing is good – but also more dangerous – from the pit and infield areas at small tracks. Here, a chain-link fence stands between children and the action at Carolina Speedway near Gastonia.




                                                                                                                                            Nights of
                                                                                                                                                   danger
                                                                                                                                       Near pit road, the path drivers take to get off the track,
                                                                                                                                     children play tag in the dark.
                                                                                                                                       Cars speed through the pits as spectators and crew mem-
                                                                                                                                     bers leap out of the way.
                                                                                                                                       A driver runs from his vehicle to jump up and down on
                                                                                                                                     the hood of a car that just hit him.
                                                                                                                                       Gritty, unpredictable and often dangerous, this is racing
                                                                                                                                     on a Saturday night at small tracks in the Carolinas and
East Lincoln Speedway official Corky Linder directs cars after a minor wreck. On this night, some races didn’t go more than
five laps without a wreck.                                                                                                           across America.




                                                                                                                                    Above, Carolina Speedway workers help right a car that overturned on
                                                                                                                                    a straightaway.


                                                                                                                                    At left, workers free Bryan Dean from a one-car wreck on the
                                                                                                                                    backstretch at Lancaster Speedway. Lancaster, unlike some
                                                                                                                                    speedways, has emergency medical workers and ambulances on
                                                                                                                                    hand. Dean suffered minor injuries.




                                                          S U N DAY , N O V E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1   13N T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                       [ SOLUTIONS ]
INS I D E TH E CU LTU R E                         DEATH AT THE TRACK                            As fatalities rise, so does pressure for safer racing
Racers
just can’t
resist
                                               Awareness grows;
                –––––––
Speed, fury and competition
add up to who they are
                –––––––
          By Peter St. Onge
                Staff Writer
                                               will change follow?
    When he’s running wide open, that’s
when the young driver feels most alive.
It’s the speed, Robby Benton says, but
                                                             By Ames Alexander                                  significance. NASCAR wanted to discuss                                     events in 2001, and some are questioning
                                                         Peter St. Onge, Liz Chandler
it’s more than the speed. It’s him and                                                                          safety with its drivers, who have long com-                                whether the sport finds itself at a crossroads.
                                                            and Diane Suchetka
the car, forging something greater than                              Staff Writers                              plained the organization didn’t involve them                                 “The mere fact that we’re killing, disabling
the sum of both parts. It’s the team, the
effort, his life.                                 Earlier this month, on a nondescript                          enough in discussions about their livelihood.                              and seriously injuring so many people
    “When all that comes together,” he         Thursday morning, NASCAR drivers, team                           “That has never changed,” said legendary                                   would indicate we need to do something,”
says, “that’s the biggest high.”
                                               owners and officials gathered at the Hunters-                    driver Richard Petty with a laugh, two days                                said Samuel Gualardo, a past president of
    He is 22 years old, and he loves rac-
ing, simple as that. He loves the broth-       ville offices of Joe Gibbs Racing. For more                      after the meeting. “But every step we take is                              the American Society of Safety Engineers,
erhood of drivers and the familial             than two hours, the participants talked safety                   better than what we have.”                                                 who has pushed for racing safety improve-
warmth of fans. He loves building and
rebuilding cars in the 40-by-40-foot
                                               – specifically about changes, aerodynamic                           Certainly, NASCAR had impetus to listen.                                ments.
shop behind his parents’ house in              and otherwise, to make racing less hazard-                       A February crash claimed its biggest star,                                   Said NASCAR driver Jeff Burton: “We
northern Mecklenburg County. He                ous at Winston Cup’s two biggest super-                          Dale Earnhardt, in what has been a troubling                               have to as a community collectively make it
loves going fast.
    It is, as for many racers, an affection    speedways, Talladega and Daytona.                                year for the racing industry as a whole. At                                better. There’s no doubt about it. We have to
passed down through generations. His              The meeting, however, carried a larger                        least 33 people have died at U.S. racing                                   make it better.”
grandfather raced, and his uncle raced,
so no one was surprised when young
Robby started in go-karts at 14. Perhaps
it was inevitable, too, that one weekday
morning last month, he asked himself if        The Observer interviewed drivers, team
he should race at all.
    The night before, on Oct. 4, Benton
                                               owners, mechanics, safety experts and
                                               officials with top racing organizations.
                                                                                               Protecting Drivers                                                                              Energy-absorbing track walls
was part of a wreck that killed ARCA           Here are some of their recommenda-              Technological advances can help protect race car drivers. Here are
                                                                                               some key devices and materials in use or under development:                                     GLANCING BLOWS                DIRECT HITS
driver Blaise Alexander, his friend, at        tions on how racing – an inherently                                                                                                             If not carefully designed,    “Soft” walls can
Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Benton drove            dangerous activity – can be safer.              DRIVER HEAD RESTRAINT HARNESS                      ‘BLACK BOX’ CRASH DATA RECORDER              “soft” walls can snag a       reduce stress on
one of two cars about to be lapped by                                                          HANS (head and neck support) device,               Onboard recorders already in use on          car and cause it to stop      drivers’ bodies during
Alexander and Kerry Earnhardt, the                                                             worn over driver’s shoulders; helps                Indy-style and Formula One cars;             abruptly or spin it into      crashes.
leaders late in the race. Alexander and        Require drivers at all                          prevent whiplash during a crash.                   recordings can help engineers                the path of oncoming
                                                                                                                                                                                               cars.
Earnhardt bumped, sending Alexander            levels to wear up-to-date                                                      HANS device
                                                                                                                                                  determine what caused a wreck.
into the wall. Some thought Benton’s
                                               safety equipment.
                                                                                                                              strapped to
slower car prompted the wreck.                                                                                                helmet to limit
    No, he told a reporter the next morn-                                                                                     head movement.
ing; he had done everything right. “I’m           PROBLEM: Since 1990, more than 100
at peace with what happened,” he said.         drivers nationwide have died after hit-
    But another question lingered: Why         ting their heads or snapping their                                                                                                                                                       Concrete
drive?                                         necks in crashes. Others were badly                                                                                                                                                      track wall
    It is a question that has forever          burned in wrecks while wearing inade-
floated around racing. Why tempt dan-          quate fire-retardant clothes.                                                                                                                   INSIDE A
                                                                                                                                        New seat design protects     Larger window             “SOFT” WALL
ger? It’s the speed, drivers say. It’s the
                                                                                                                                        driver's head, shoulders     opening lets driver       This barrier design,
competition. The fury.                            RECOMMENDATION: Research sug-                                                         and knees.                   escape faster.            called PEDS-2, is
    “It’s addictive,” said John Phillips, a    gests head restraints can save lives, and         Harness holds driver and HANS                                                                 attached to an
longtime Winston Cup crew member               experts advocate them for drivers at all          device to seat.                                                                               existing concrete
and older brother of Russell Phillips,         levels.                                                                                                                                         track wall; installed                            Rigid
who was killed in a 1995 race at then             Championship Auto Racing Teams               CAR DESIGN, FRAME MATERIALS                                                                     on a small section of                            impact
Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I’ve seen           (CART) began requiring drivers to               Crushable materials                                                                             wall at Indianapolis                             plate
                                                                                                                                                                                               Motor Speedway.                 Hard plastic
marriages and whole families ruined.           wear head-and-neck restraint devices            collapse at a predictable                                                                                                       cylinders
    “I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline, or   on oval tracks this year. NASCAR last           rate and absorb
the brotherhood or the satisfaction of         month mandated restraints for drivers           energy in a
being able to do it.”                          in its three national series but hasn’t         crash.                                                                                                       MEDICAL TEAMS
    Robby Benton offers another theory.        decided on its short-track series. Other                                                                 FRONT CRASH BOX           Aluminum                 • NASCAR: Plans to hire a medical liaison —
Racing, he believes, is not merely some-       racing groups merely recommend that                                                                      Aluminum foam                tube                  as well as four doctors — to consult with
                                                                                                                                                        injected into
thing you do. “My whole life revolves          drivers wear them, and few drivers on                                                                                                                       local physicians and emergency personnel.
                                                                                                                                                        square tubes;                        Aluminum
around it,” the young driver says. “It’s       small tracks do.                                                                                         collapses and                        foam          • Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART):
who I am.”                                        The cost can be an issue. One brand                                                                   absorbs energy                                     Seven physicians travel the race circuit with
    The old driver understands this.           of head restraint, known as the Hutch-                                                                   in a front-end                                     a $1.5-million mobile surgical and intensive
Dave Marcis started racing in 1957,            ens device, costs $300; another, known           Humpy Bumper made of                                    crash.                                             care unit.
when the automobile was just becom-            as the HANS device, costs $1275 ($675            lightweight graphite fiber.
ing the great social equalizer - and rac-      for children’s models). Those who             SOURCE: HANS, TEAM SIMPSON RACING INC., HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, INDY RACING LEAGUE, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA, ORLANDO SENTINEL                 KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE
ing cars for sport a fledgling rural recre-    wear restraints say all drivers should
ation. It happened more intensely in the       be required to do so. NASCAR drivers
South, but the story everywhere was            Jeff Gordon, Mike Skinner and Elton           gins, burned to death after a 1999 acci-                New York’s Watkins Glen Interna-                        dretti, talking about soft walls.
the same: Racing was, for both drivers         Sawyer credit the HANS device with            dent.                                                   tional, already have installed styro-                   • “If we can put a man on the moon,
and fans, an accessible pastime.               saving their lives.                                                                                   foam or tire barriers along walls. But                  we should be able to come up with a
    “Basically, you had drivers who came          Experts also recommend drivers                                                                     researchers have found that such wall                   soft wall... They just haven’t made it a
from working in a saw mill or with cot-        equip their cars with on-board fire ex-
                                                                                             Cushion the impact                                      materials can catch or snag cars, caus-                 priority. It’s the sanctioning bodies that
ton,” says Marcis, at 60 the oldest active     tinguishing systems and wear one-             of crashes.                                             ing them to stop abruptly or spin into                  need to lead the way.” – Jerry Gaines, a
Winston Cup driver. “(Racing) was              piece driving suits and other protec-                                                                 the path of other cars.                                 former short-track racer whose son,
probably a better way of living.”              tive gear made from a material such as          PROBLEM: Since 1990, more than 60                        Energy-absorbing materials in cars                   David, was killed in a 1990 wreck in
    Still, Marcis says, racers drove as        NOMEX, which can protect drivers              drivers died after hitting track walls.                 also hold promise. NASCAR officials                     Concord.
much for the competition as the payoff.        from serious fires.                                                                                   are encouraged by the development of
Even now, with big money enticing              • “If I could send one message to ev-            RECOMMENDATION: Some drivers                         porous aluminum, which could be
some drivers to the sport, the hook            ery racer, it would be don’t even do a        want racing officials to speed up re-                   placed between the engine and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Require substantial fences
comes from elsewhere: “When you take           practice lap without some sort of head        search into energy-absorbing materi-                    front bumper to reduce the impact on                    to protect spectators.
that green flag, and you’ve got 43 race        restraint on. Those things are life sav-      als for walls and cars. The Indy Racing                 drivers. The so-called “Humpy Bum-
cars out there, it’s pretty damn exciting.     ers.” – Mike Skinner, a Winston Cup           League and NASCAR are sponsoring                        per,” made of carbon fiber, also could                     PROBLEM: Since 1990, at least 16 spec-
There’s no feeling like it.”                   driver who wore a head restraint when         research into the development of                        absorb energy and prevent crash                         tators have died after cars or debris
    Such is true, too, for racing’s fans,      he survived a wreck at Chicagoland            “soft” walls – a project led by nine engi-              deaths and injuries, according to                       flew over fences into grandstands.
who remain as connected to their ath-          Speedway in July.                             neers at the University of Nebraska.                    Lowe’s Motor Speedway President                         Dozens more have been seriously in-
letes as fans in any sport. Perhaps it’s       • “People will buy a $79 fire suit and        Racing officials aren’t sure when an ef-                H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, who has                           jured, and track owners say car parts
the shared roots, or shared love for cars.     think that will save them. I used to          fective wall will be ready. The cost of                 championed the device. NASCAR offi-                     commonly clear fences.
Perhaps, says sports psychologist Tom          think that too. It took a friend’s death to   such walls – which likely would                         cials, however, say they’re not yet con-
Tutko, it’s that racers satisfy a basic hu-    change my mind. When it comes to              amount to hundreds of thousands of                      vinced the bumper would be effective.                      RECOMMENDATION: Safety advocates
man want – to find and stretch our lim-        your safety – it’s priceless.” – Curtis En-   dollars for a half-mile track – could                   • “That’s the next huge move that can                   think racing groups could develop
its.                                           der, an Oklahoma stock car racer              present obstacles for all but major-                    improve our sport tremendously.” –                      standards for the height and design of
    “Race drivers represent the epitome        whose mentor, Delmar “Junior” Rig-            league tracks. Some tracks, such as                     Retired racing champion Mario An-                                          SEE OPTIONS |NEXT PAGE
of finding the edge,” says Tutko, one of
the founding fathers of sports psycholo-
gy. “They’re going as fast as you hu-
manly can go in a competitive environ-
ment, and that represents the ultimate
in stimulation.”
    But, Robby Benton knows, conse-
quence is never far from the thrill. His
friend, Kenny Irwin, died in practice at
New Hampshire last year. Now Blaise.
“I ask myself if it’s selfish to race,” Ben-
ton says. “I have family to think about.”
    Yet he, like other drivers, believes
that if he is careful, he’s as safe as any-
one driving to work on crowded in-
terstates. And so last month, Benton
worked on rebuilding a junked race car
with his team of after-work volunteers.
They took the car to the ARCA race at
Talladega, Ala., where he finished sixth.
    It was the answer to his doubts. Rac-
ing, he says, is what he wants as his fu-
ture. Wouldn’t anything else be com-
promising his life?
    “I’m not going to say it’s worth losing
your life,” he says. “But if it’s worth tak-                                                                                                                                                                                           JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTO
ing a chance on, then it’s worth doing         To reduce deaths and injuries, experts say, racing organizations should develop standards for barriers and fences in the infield and pit areas. At Lancaster
it.”                                           Speedway, a shoulder-high chain-link fence separates the track from the pits and infield.


                                                                 S U N DAY , N OV E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 0 1       14N T H E C H A R L O T T E O B S E RV E R
                                                                                          [ SOLUTIONS ]
                                                                                                                                                                                       What Racing’s Leaders Say
                                                                                                                                                                                       Groups with the most deaths since 1990:

                                                                                                                                                                                       NASCAR, 36 DEATHS
                                                                                                                                                                                         "I strongly believe that the industry as a
                                                                                                                                                                                       whole, particularly as it relates to stock
                                                                                                                                                                                       car racing, is safer than it’s ever been." –
                                                                                                                                                                                       Mike Helton, National Association for
                                                                                                                                                                                       Stock Car Auto Racing president.

                                                                                                                                                                                       NHRA, 22 DEATHS*
                                                                                                                                                                                         “We investigate every case and try to
                                                                                                                                                                                       determine what we can do to prevent the
                                                                                                                                                                                       accident. A lot of rules have unfortunately
                                                                                                                                                                                       come at the misfortune of others.” –
                                                                                                                                                                                       Graham Light, National Hot Rod
                                                                                                                                                                                       Association senior vice president.

                                                                                                                                                                                       SCCA, 13 DEATHS**
                                                                                                                                                                                           “Safety is our number one goal and our
                                                                                                                                                                                       number one concern. I think the
                                                                                                                                                                                       awareness level is probably higher than
                                                                                                                                                                                       it’s ever been.” – Steve Johnson, Sports
                                                                                                                                                                                       Car Club of America president.

                                                                                                                                                                                       USAC, 12 DEATHS
                                                                                                                                                                                          “We quietly are always working in
                                                                                                                                                                                       scientific studies on increased safety in
                                                                                                                                                                                       our series. There’s an accident report for
                                                                                                                                                                                       every accident in USAC that’s complete
                                                                                                                                                                                       and concise.” – James Capels, U.S. Auto
                                                                                                                                                                                       Club president.

                                                                                                                                                                                       ARCA, 6 DEATHS
                                                                                                                                                                                          “As we’ve gone forward, we’ve made
                                                                                                                                                                                       changes." – Ron Drager, Automobile
                                                                                                                                                                                       Racing Club of America president.
                                                                                                                                                                                       Changes include asking inexperienced
                                                                                                                                                                                       racers to attend driving schools or drive in
                                                                                                                                                                                       more events in other circuits.
                                                                                                                                                            JEFF SINER – STAFF PHOTO
Some tracks – such as South Carolina’s Lancaster Speedway pictured above – allow children and spectators in the pits, which tend to be among the most                                  *NHRA officials confirmed 19 deaths at sanctioned tracks
                                                                                                                                                                                       since 1990. Track owners confirmed three others.
dangerous parts of a track. Some safety experts say tracks should ban spectators and children from the pits during races.                                                              **An SCCA official said others have died in SCCA races
                                                                                                                                                                                       since 1990, but declined to give identify them.




               –––––––                       scribing the hazards of having specta-       ular physical exams, and furnish docu-      son you don’t have one.” – Humpy
                                                                                                                                                                                       About This Series
    Options from previous page               tors mill around the pits.                   mentation to racetracks. Elite racing       Wheeler, Lowe’s Motor Speedway                      During a nine-month investigation,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Observer reporters and researchers
                                                                                          groups require proof of good health at      president.
                                                                                          the start of racing season and again af-    • “At 14, 15, even 16, you’d have to be an       confirmed racing deaths in the United
track fences. They now range from
                                             Compile accident                             ter serious wrecks. But smaller organi-     exception to the rule to really be able          States from 1990 through October 2001
about 9 feet at some small tracks to 21      data and share safety                        zations and tracks don’t mandate            to handle it. Certainly your average kid         by searching newspapers and the Internet
or 22 feet at a few major racing venues.                                                  them.                                       couldn’t do it.” –Chuck Lehning, direc-          and contacting relatives, drivers, racing
With little research to guide them,          information.                                 • “There are a lot of drivers who’d         tor of operations for Jordan Driving             groups and tracks. The study of deaths
tracks tend to build the minimum set                                                      love to race, but have a physical impair-   School.                                          began in 1990 because reports since then
by insurance companies or build                 PROBLEM: No one keeps track of all        ment that would endanger not only                                                            are more available on databases and the
fences similar to those at other tracks.     U.S. racing deaths, so officials miss pat-   themselves but spectators and other                                                          Internet.
   Experts say the best fences are an-       terns and often dismiss fatalities as        drivers as well.” – CART medical di-
                                                                                                                                      Make spectators aware                               Reporters spoke to family members for
                                             freak accidents.                                                                                                                          verification, except for deaths that were
chored in concrete, reinforced with ca-                                                   rector Steve Olvey.                         they should be more                              well-reported. When no family member
bles and designed with a top section                                                      • “A thorough physical should be re-
that hangs over the track to keep acci-         RECOMMENDATION: Leaders in the            quired of everybody. That’s definitely      cautious.                                        was available, information came from
dent debris out of the stands. A few         sport say tracks and sanctioning bod-        my feeling after what I’ve been                                                              track officials, friends or published
states, including Connecticut and Ver-       ies should thoroughly investigate acci-      through.” – Diane Matheny, whose              PROBLEM: Since 1990, at least 29               reports. The largest racing groups were
mont, require minimum fence heights.         dents, collect detailed information and      husband, Doug, suffered a fatal heart       spectators were killed – and more than           contacted to confirm deaths.
Insurers say variation is expected, de-      look for trends. Some suggest report-        attack this year during a race at Wash-     70 injured – after they were hit by cars            Heart attacks that happened on the
pending on the size and design of the        ing the data to a central clearinghouse      ington’s South Sound Speedway. Math-        or parts.                                        track or within minutes of a driver
track, and the type of cars racing.          that would make information available        eny, of Olympia, Wash., had three heart                                                      finishing a race were included. Deaths at
• “Probably with a better design, you        to safety researchers. CART and IRL          attacks in 1998 and triple bypass sur-        RECOMMENDATION: Be cautious.                   racing schools were not counted; nor
could have prevented quite a few of          share safety information and advances.       gery in 1999.                               Don’t let children roam unattended.              were deaths involving motorcycles, youth
those (deaths).” – Safety engineer Car-      They also require crash data recorders                                                   Stay away from track fences, pits and            go-karts, monster trucks or mud racing.
men Daecher, who heads an American           in cars, as NASCAR will next year for                                                    other risky areas where cars enter and              The Observer then created a database
Society of Safety Engineers group            its three major national series.             Beef up safety inspections                  exit tracks. Racing officials should edu-        and analyzed it for patterns. Reporters
                                             • “The first thing you’ve got to do is                                                   cate spectators about track hazards              interviewed more than 400 relatives,
studying racing hazards.
                                             collect the data. You’ve got to know
                                                                                          on cars.                                    with guidebooks, signs and announce-             drivers, track and racing officials and
                                             what’s happening before you can react                                                    ments, safety advocates say.                     safety experts.
                                                                                             PROBLEM: Mechanical problems
Move the fans back.                          and prevent things. You have to have a
                                                                                          were cited as a possible contributor in
                                                                                                                                      • “You constantly have to keep people

   PROBLEM: At small tracks, fans often
                                             standard collection point that’s univer-
                                                                                          more than 30 fatalities since 1990. Of
                                                                                                                                      back. I think they’d go on the track if          On the Web
                                             sal for all tracks. And there has to be no                                               you let them. It just amazes me.” –
                                                                                          the 29 fan deaths, 10 happened after                                                            See this special report online, as well as
stand against track-side fences, which       fear of reprisals. You should be able to                                                 Richard Deaton, general manager of
                                                                                          tires and other parts inexplicably came                                                      a searchable database of racing fatalities
can be dangerous in a crash. In 1997,        turn in your data without some lawyer                                                    Salem (Ind.) Speedway.
                                                                                          off cars. Stuck throttles also are named                                                     and an interactive graphic:
Melanie Rachelle Mitchell, 16, died af-      digging through to say you’re killing 10
                                                                                          as a possible cause in at least 10 fatal-                                                    www.charlotte.com/racedeaths/
ter a wheel flew into the fence she was      times more people than any other
standing against at Cowtown Speed-           track.” – CART physician Terry Tram-
                                                                                          ities.                                      Be sure track workers are
way in Texas.                                mell.
                                                                                            RECOMMENDATION: Race tracks and           well protected.
                                             • “We could have some sort of non-
                                                                                          sanctioning bodies could eliminate
                                                                                                                                                                                       Special Report Staff
   RECOMMENDATION: Tracks should be          profit entity whose purpose is to col-                                                     PROBLEM: At least 24 crew members
                                                                                          some mechanical hazards by making                                                            Lead reporter:
vigilant about moving fans who stand         lect data on race injuries and deaths …                                                  and track workers – including five flag-
                                                                                          prerace car inspections mandatory                                                            Liz Chandler (704) 358-5063
against fences or near track entrances.      What we need is something that can                                                       men – have died in accidents since
                                                                                          and more thorough, safety advocates                                                              lchandler@charlotteobserver.com
After races begin, security workers at       bring all these elements together.” –                                                    1990.
                                                                                          say. Most small tracks conduct safety
Lowe’s Motor Speedway try to make            Humpy Wheeler, Lowe’s Motor                                                                                                               Reporters:
                                                                                          inspections at the start of the season,
sure fans don’t get too close to track-      Speedway president.                                                                         RECOMMENDATION: Experts suggest               Ames Alexander (704) 358-5060
                                                                                          but do only cursory safety checks the
side fences. Some experts believe                                                                                                     racing should develop an industry                    aalexander@charlotteobserver.com
                                                                                          day of the race. CART and Formula
tracks should distance spectators from                                                                                                standard for worker safety. Many                 Peter St. Onge (704) 358-5029
the danger by keeping the first few          Provide adequate                             One require computers systems that
                                                                                                                                      tracks – but not all – put flagmen in                pstonge@charlotteobserver.com
                                                                                          automatically shut off the engine if the
rows of the stands empty. In 1994, Dar-      emergency medical care                       throttle sticks. NASCAR officials           well-protected platforms high above              Diane Suchetka (704) 358-5073
lington Raceway removed the first two                                                                                                 the track. Track workers should be                   suchetka@charlotteobserver.com
rows of seats in its grandstands.            at all tracks.                               worry that such in-car computers cre-
                                                                                                                                      thoroughly trained on how to avoid
                                                                                          ate the possibility of high-tech cheat-                                                      Research reporters: Rick Bonnell, Cason
• “Spectators don’t have any concept                                                                                                                   dangerous situations.
                                               PROBLEM: Some small tracks provide         ing. NASCAR requires engine-kill                                                             Bufe, Charles Chandler, Ron Green Jr.,
of what the exposure is if they stand                                                                                                                  • “I feel he died in
                                             poorly trained rescuers or have no fi-       switches mounted on the steering col-                                                        Greg Lacour, Stan Olson, David Poole, Ron
against a chain-link fence. It doesn’t                                                                                                                 vain because of what
                                             retruck or ambulance on site. Since          umn, but some drivers question                                                               Recinto, Richard Rubin, Jennifer Talhelm,
slow down the car at all when you’re                                                                                                                   he was standing on.” –
                                             1990, at least 18 people have died or        whether they could hit the switch in                                                         Mike Whitmer, Dan Wolken.
right next to it.” – John Fitch, who owns                                                                                                              Gloria Innes, on the
                                             been seriously injured at tracks where       time to avoid a wreck.                                                                       Photographer: Jeff Siner.
a Connecticut company that develops                                                                                                                    death of her husband,
                                             victims or their families say emergen-       • “Every top mechanic has had (a
racing safety equipment. His former                                                                                                                    Dave, a flagman who             Photo research: Davie Hinshaw.
                                             cy response was inadequate.                  stuck throttle) happen one time or an-
racing partner, Pierre Levegh, was                                                                                                                     was killed by an air-
                                                                                          other.” – David Ifft, a longtime me-                                                         Database editors: Ted Mellnik, Andrew
driving the car that flew into the crowd                                                                                                               borne     car   while
                                                RECOMMENDATION: Tracks should             chanic for NASCAR and ARCA driv-            Innes                                            Shain.
at Le Mans in 1955, killing more than 80                                                                                                               standing on a wooden
                                             have firetrucks, extinguishers, life-sav-    ers, speaking of stuck throttles, a prob-
spectators.                                                                                                                           5-foot-high platform.                            Designers: Jim Denk, John Nalley, Michael
                                             ing equipment and an ambulance for           lem he estimates he’s seen about 30
• “If the front row of seats are right up                                                                                                                                              Whitley.
                                             fast transport to a trauma center, ex-       times on race cars.
against the fence, then it’s not safe.” –                                                                                                                                              Copy editors: David Vest, Carol-Faye
George Knight of George Knight & As-         perts say. Elite racing groups won’t                                                     Listen to drivers.                               Ashcraft.
sociates, which insures small tracks         race until those precautions are in
                                             place. In CART, seven physicians trav-
                                                                                          Mandate valid state                            PROBLEM: Some racing organiza-                Graphic artists: David Puckett, Wm. Pitzer.
around the country.
                                             el the race circuit with a $1.5-million      driver’s licenses.                          tions, including NASCAR, have no                 Research: Sara Klemmer, Christine Landry,
                                             mobile surgical and intensive-care                                                       drivers’ safety committee to voice con-          Laura Paynter, Kathy Persinger.
Make pits safer.                             unit. NASCAR plans to hire a medical           PROBLEM: Some racers compete even         cerns and push for changes.
                                             liaison – along with four doctors – to       though their highway driver’s licenses                                                       Project editor: Gary Schwab.
   PROBLEM: Fans gather in pit areas         consult with local physicians and            have been suspended for drunken or             RECOMMENDATION: With a formal                 Editors: Cheryl Carpenter; Susan Gilbert
amid working crews and moving cars.          emergency personnel.                         reckless driving. Also, teens too young     safety committee, some say drivers               (photo); Jo Miller (graphics); Marion
Since 1990, at least nine spectators and     • “The most important piece of equip-        for a driver’s license are sometimes al-    could more quickly and effectively at-           Paynter (research); Cory Powell (design);
12 track workers and crew have died af-      ment at a race is the firetruck – and it’s   lowed to race at speeds near 100 mph.       tack safety problems. CART and IRL               Tom Tozer (design and graphics).
ter accidents in pit, garage and infield     usually the most forgotten.” – Chief                                                     drivers use the Championship Driver’s
areas. Fences and barriers protecting        Craig Clarke, founder of a private fire        RECOMMENDATION: Some leaders in           Association to voice their safety con-
pit and infield areas are less substantial   company that supplies firefighters,          the sport suggest tracks should ban         cerns. In April, CART canceled a race            Tell Us What You Think
than those near grandstands.                 emergency medical response and safe-         competitors who can’t show a valid          at Texas Motor Speedway when driv-
                                             ty advice to tracks in the eastern Unit-     driver’s license, a step some tracks take   ers complained of dizziness due to                  What suggestions do you have to
   RECOMMENDATION:        Experts    say     ed States.                                   now.                                        high speeds. After a recent drivers’             improve fan and driver safety? How can
tracks should bar spectators from the                                                       Driving experts say minors may not        meeting, NASCAR officials promised               drivers and fans influence safety
pits during races. Tracks make money,                                                     have the judgment and experience that       changes to rules that tend to keep cars          improvements? We’d appreciate your
though, by charging fans extra for pit       Require drivers to prove                     high-speed racing demands. Some rac-        in dangerously tight packs at Daytona            thoughts on the contents of this special
passes – and protect themselves by re-       they’re healthy.                             ing leaders say youths should race un-      and Talladega.                                   investigative section. E-mail us at
quiring those who enter pits to sign re-                                                  der close supervision and only against      • “Nobody will be more interested in             perspective@charlotteobserver.com.
leases waiving their right to sue.             PROBLEM: Since 1990, more than 30          other youths. Others contend some           safety than the drivers themselves.” –           Write to Racing Project, Charlotte
Tracks should develop standards for          drivers have died from heart attacks         children are qualified to race against      Mario Andretti.                                  Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte,
barriers and fences around the pits.         while racing, sometimes endangering          adults, as top racers like NASCAR’s Jeff    • “I am in big favor of NASCAR, the              NC 28230-0308. Fax to (704)
• “It’d be like … trying to get into a       others.                                      Gordon did. Driving experts say racing      drivers, the car owners, the manufac-            358-5037. Call (704) 358-5063. Please
very crowded gas station and trying to                                                    should study the issue.                     turers, all working together to make             include your name, address and
get out as quickly as you can.” – Samuel       RECOMMENDATION: Better health              • “If you don‘t have your driver’s li-      things safer. We’re not where we need            telephone number; we’ll publish a
Gualardo, past president of the Ameri-       screening could save lives. Doctors say      cense, you shouldn’t be able to drive a     to be today. But I see us getting there.”        selection of responses in next Sunday’s
can Society of Safety Engineers, de-         drivers should be required to pass reg-      race car. There’s probably a good rea-      – Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton.                Perspective section.



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