Driver dies in Nostalgia race Jun 18, 2006 8:35:19 GMT -5
Post by Ron Coon on Jun 18, 2006 8:35:19 GMT -5
Driver, 61, dies in Nostalgia race
Minnesotan Schuur is 14th racing-related fatality at Knoxville Raceway
BRYCE MILLER AND ROB GRAY
REGISTER STAFF WRITERS
June 18, 2006
Knoxville, Ia. — A Minnesota man died during a Nostalgia Night exhibition sprint-car race late Friday at Knoxville Raceway, police and track officials said.
Courtney Roger Schuur , 61, of Fridley, Minn., was pronounced dead at Knoxville Hospital after sustaining injuries during a wreck shortly after 10 p.m., officials said.
The caged sprint-car race was part of a once-a-year "old-timers" event - not one of the usual driving circuits at the racetrack.
Dwayne Robuck of the Marion County Fair Board said the accident happened "going down the front chute, into turn one." Robuck was on the other side of the track at the time, but said officials with his group said a tangle with another car led to the crash.
"A wheel got up on another car, got him into a crash near the wall and he flipped," Robuck said. "There was no damage to the fence, so evidently it just flipped on the track."
Robuck said there "probably were six or eight" cars in the race.
Ralph Capitani, race director at Knoxville Raceway, said Schuur died at the scene. Marion County sheriff's officials declined to provide more details about the accident.
There have been 14 racing-related deaths at Knoxville, according to Capitani and Des Moines Register research.
The last driver to die in a wreck at Knoxville Raceway was Mark Wilson of Des Moines in April 2001, when his sprint car broke and hit a fence during a practice session. The most recent sprint-car death in Iowa: August 2003, when Australian driver Keith Hutton died during a wreck at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.
There were 11 race-related fatalities at Knoxville Raceway through 1982. More than a decade passed before the next death, Des Moines' Danny Young in 1995.
Track chaplain Troy Miller, a lay minister for Team 3:16 Raceway Ministries at Knoxville since 2003, presided over the memorial service for Hutton.
"The thing I see as my role is just to be available and be a listening ear for the drivers, fans and safety crew," said Miller, 36, of Des Moines, who was making himself available to talk to anyone affected by the accident. "Because it's a difficult situation."
Jim Beard, a fan from Knoxville, attended the exhibition races Friday at the famous half-mile dirt oval - but left just before the accident.
"Oh Lord, I didn't know about that," Beard said. "I just said something to one of the fair board members the other day, 'I hope that nothing happens and one of those old-timers gets hurt or killed.' "
Capitani said once Schuur's car became tangled with another racer, it flipped "and that was the end of it." Capitani said the normal amount of safety personnel were at the track and its regular rules and regulations were followed.
There was a moment of silence before Saturday's Mid-Season Championships to honor Schuur. Funeral arrangements were pending, Capitani said. A telephone message left at Schuur's Minnesota home was not immediately returned.
"Of course, our minds and hearts are with the family," Capitani said.
Knoxville Raceway's Web site promoting Nostalgia Night indicated that the range of drivers in the 2005 races were as old as in their 80s.
Many cars are from the 1960s and '70s - and some from as far back as the '30s and '40s. Schuur's car reportedly was a 1960s-era model.
Capitani said he expects Nostalgia Night to continue.
"I don't think there's any question we'll keep it going," Capitani said. "It's just one of those things that happens when you put a race car on a track."
Robuck said he, too, thought the incident was isolated.
"I had a race car for 40-something years myself with a couple guys injured - but nothing major," he said. "Open-wheel cars, they get to running real close . . . it sometimes happens."