Track Safety Under Scrutiny in Wake of California Crash Deaths | Edmunds.com
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Track Safety Under Scrutiny in Wake of California Crash Deaths


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Just the Facts:
  • Track safety is once again coming under scrutiny following the deaths of two people at Marysville Raceway Park on Saturday.
  • A 68-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were in the pit area at Marysville Raceway Park when a car careened off the track and hit them, according to police.
  • Even though circumstances could not be much different, inevitable comparisons are being drawn to the recent incident at Daytona in which several fans were injured by crash debris.

MARYSVILLE, California — Track safety is once again coming under scrutiny following the deaths of two people at Marysville Raceway Park on Saturday.

A 68-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were in the pit area at Marysville Raceway Park when a car careened off the track and hit them, according to police.

Even though circumstances could not be much different, inevitable comparisons are being drawn to the recent incident at the Daytona 500 in which fans were injured by crash debris.

At least 28 fans were hurt when more than a dozen cars piled up in the final curve of the Nationwide Series race on the Saturday before the Daytona 500. Some of the debris went over a high fence.

At a NASCAR race in 2009 at Talladega, the crowd was hit with debris and seven fans were injured when a car sailed upside-down into the front-stretch fence.

In 2010 at a National Hot Rod Association event in Chandler, Arizona, a woman was killed by a tire that flew off a crashing dragster at Firebird International Raceway.

The two victims in Saturday's crash have been identified by police as Dale Richard Wondergem Jr., 68, a racecar owner, and Marcus Joseph Johnson, 14, the cousin of the sprint car driver in the accident. A sprint car driven by Chase Johnson, 17, went out of control and veered into the pit area. He was not injured.

The incident happened during warm-ups prior to the opening event in the California Sprint Car Civil War Series, with 14 races scheduled at six tracks. Saturday night's program was canceled after the fatal accident.

Two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. began his career in sprint cars at age 15.

"People who can afford to go race somewhere are going to find somewhere to race," Stenhouse said, according to media reports. "And the crews, the people in the pits, that's almost always your friends and your family. I read somewhere somebody said those people shouldn't have been in the pits. Well, this is how it's done. This is the way of life."

Edmunds says: A sad day for racing as police continue to look into what caused the young driver to lose control.

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