THOMPSON, Ohio -- The Geauga County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash at Thompson Raceway Park on Saturday afternoon that claimed the life of a drag racer, and left another driver hospitalized.
The man who was killed is a 56-year-old Cleveland man. Witnesses said the victim’s dragster was traveling at 151 miles an hour on the quarter-mile track, when the car careened out of control, and slammed into a guardrail. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Fellow racer Richard Wilkerson told Fox 8, "Everybody knows it can happen, everybody hopes it never happen. Today is one of the days it just for some reason happened."
The other dragster on the track also crashed, when the driver swerved to avoid the victim’s car.
"We all know what it's like to drive down the road at 55 miles an hour, now picture doing it over a 100, and that's what these drivers are doing here, so seconds go by even faster," said sheriff’s department Sgt. John Copen.
The victim was a proud member of the Coalition of Urban Drag Racers Association, and was recently named driver of the month.
CUDRA vice-president Denise Kennedy said, "This type of accident is something that is almost non-existent and especially when it's someone that's so close to you, you know it's just devastating."
Friends and fellow racers say the 56-year-old was safety conscious and they theorize that the crash was the result of some kind of mechanical failure.
"I know he was experimenting with some new parts and all I can think is something failed, or locked up or something, that's all I can say, he's an excellent driver, and entertaining driver at that."
The injuries suffered by the other driver are not considered life-threatening.