The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 17, 2013

Man, boy die as race car careens off Calif. track

— MARYSVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A teenage race car driver taking warm-up laps at a California raceway careened off the track and into pit row, killing a 14-year-old boy and 68-year-old man, officials said.

Six or seven cars were on the track Saturday night when the out of control car ran into the two victims, who were standing side-by-side, Yuba County Sheriff's Capt. Ron Johnson said. He said the two were affiliated with one of the cars or drivers but did not yet know how.

Neither the 17-year-old driver nor anyone else was injured, he said.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene at Marysville Raceway Park some 40 miles north of Sacramento, and the boy was declared dead either at the hospital or in an ambulance, the officer told The Associated Press.

The raceway was hosting the California Sprint Car Civil War Series on the opening day of its season.

Steven Blakesley, the announcer calling the race from the stands, said the sprint cars were doing so-called "hot laps" about an hour before the race when a car driven by Chase Johnson, traveling at about 90 mph, couldn't make a turn.

"There must have been a mechanical problem," Blakesley said. "The car didn't slow down. "

Blakesley said the car ran through a gap between the track and pit row, hit an empty golf-style cart then ran out of the view of the stands, where fans were mostly silent and left to speculation about what was happening.

He said the next thing he was able to see was CPR being performed on two people, and later a body being covered and crime scene tape going up. The names of the victims weren't immediately available.

The bio on Chase Johnson's website said he's a senior at Petaluma High School north of San Francisco and is a fourth generation race car driver.

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