On October 16, Dan Wheldon was killed in a fiery crash during the final race of the 2011 IndyCar season. The wreck involved 15 cars and ended the race on just lap 11. The popular and talented 33 year old driver was in the hunt for a $5 million bonus for having won the Indy 500 earlier this year. Wheldon is survived by his wife and two young sons.
Although their names were never all over the news like Wheldon’s has been, many local race car drivers have died while pursuing their dreams and passions. Here are five drivers from central Pennsylvania that have lost their lives while racing.
Billy Kimmel was from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and he loved racing. The 27 year old had been involved in the sport for 15 years. He had recently switched to the 410 sprint cars and was racing at Williams Grove Speedway in September of 2007. Just weeks before his 28th birthday, he was fatal injured in a wreck on the next to last lap of a race. His car flipped and caught fire. He died hours later at the hospital.
Dick Tobias, who was from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, had been racing since 1950. He even owned a local auto parts store that specialized in equipment for racing. He won over 300 races in his 28 year career driving open-wheel cars. His career was cut short in 1978, however, when he died from injuries he sustained when his car flipped at Fleming Raceway in New Jersey.
Blaise Alexander was one of the most successful local drivers from the central Pennsylvania region. Originally he was from Montoursville, Pennsylvania, and he began racing when he was just 12. Though he got his start in go-karts, Alexander quickly moved up the ranks and began racing in the ARCA series by the time he was 19. He also participated in both the NASCAR Truck Series and the Nationwide Series. In 2001, when he was 25 years old, while racing against Kerry Earnhardt at Lowes Motor Speedway, he was killed in a crash. Alexander’s car and Earnhardt’s car made contact and Alexander hit the wall with a great deal of force. The accident was eerily similar to Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash.
In June of 1966, Leesport, Pennsylvania, native Red Riegel was killed at the Reading Fairgrounds Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, while driving sprint cars. Riegel and fellow driver Jud Larson made contact, went up a small embankment and flipped. The 33 year old driver was survived by his wife and two daughters.
Daryl Gohn was the son of Glenn Gohn, who owned a York County jewelry store that sponsored a local sprint car. Daryl decided to try his hand at the sport and was soon racing with the best of the local competition. Unfortunately, just two years in to what may have been a great career, Daryl Gohn was killed in a crash at Williams Grove Speedway. His father had died less than one month before Daryl’s fatal crash.