Crash kills sprint racer at Fremont Speedway


FREMONT - In only his second contest in a sprint race car, a Green Springs, Ohio, man was killed Saturday when he slammed into a concrete wall at the Fremont Speedway.

Jim Deel, 53, was in front of about 1,500 spectators in the first race of the night, about 7:40 p.m., when the crash occurred. Still, citing his love for the sport, his family asked that the races go on. “My dad wouldn't want them to stop racing just because of him,” his daughter, Jessica, said. “He would want them to keep going.”

It was the last night of the season at the speedway, which is at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds.

Mr. Deel, who owned an auto and truck repair shop, was the third driver killed at the speedway in its 50-year history and the first in about 25 years, track announcer Brian Liskai said. A flagman was killed in 1995 when a driver lost control of his car and hit the flag stand where the flagman was working.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash that killed Mr. Deel. It happened during a turn in the fifth lap of the scheduled eight-lap heat.

Family members did not know what caused the crash or the nature of Mr. Deel's injuries. Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie could not be reached for comment.

Though Mr. Deel was new to racing a 305 sprint - his first such race was a week earlier - he had experience racing drag cars 25 years ago, his family said. “He's always liked racing,” his wife, Linda, said.

Jimmie Ford, speedway promoter, said he considered canceling the races because of Tuesday's terrorist attacks but decided to go ahead with them when high school football games and races at the Toledo Speedway took place on schedule.