Two killed in race car crash in northern California

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 17, 2013 2:04 AM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - A race car struck and killed a teenage boy and a man at a northern California speedway during warm-up laps on Saturday, and authorities are investigating what led to the fatal mishap, a sheriff's official said.

The 14-year-old boy and 68-year-old man were standing in the maintenance pit area alongside the dirt track of a sprint-car race at Marysville Raceway Park, about 100 miles northeast of San Francisco, said Yuba County Sheriff's Captain Ron Johnson.

"One of the cars left the track and drove into the pit area," Johnson said, adding that it remained unclear whether the driver exited the track because he was done with his warm-up or lost control of his car due to mechanical problems.

The car ended up striking the teenager and the man who were "standing basically next to each other," Johnson said.

The man died at the scene and the teenager was pronounced dead at a local hospital, Johnson said. Their names have not been released.

A half-dozen racers were performing their warm-up laps at the time of the incident, police said.

The two victims were "both legitimately in the pit area (and) were associated with race-driving teams," Johnson said.

Neither the driver nor anyone else was injured, police said.

The dirt-track race was scheduled as the first round of this year's California Sprint Car Civil War Series, according to a statement from race organizers sent out before the event.

The compact, high-horsepower cars in the racing series are equipped with a metal wing mounted on top the roll cage. Drivers compete for thousands of dollars in prize money, the statement said.

Marysville Raceway Park said in a recorded phone message that the Saturday evening races had been canceled. Event organizers could not be reached for comment.

Last month more than 30 NASCAR fans were injured at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida in a multi-car accident in the last lap of the Nationwide Series race a day before the Daytona 500.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Xavier Briand)