Plane crash kills 10 members of Hendrick family and company

by Pete McCole

October 24, 2004

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A plane owned by the Hendrick Motorsports organization carrying ten people crashed earlier today en route to Martinsville, Va.

The Associated Press reports the plane crashed into a mountain near the Blue Ridge Airport, eight miles west of Martinsville, killing all ten people on board, including Ricky Hendrick, son of team owner Rick Hendrick; John Hendrick, brother of Rick Hendrick; and Randy Dorton, the team's chief engine builder.

No official announcement was made by the team regarding the crash. Neither team owner Rick Hendrick or any of his four NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers were on board.

WCNC-TV in Charlotte, NC reports the plane missed the runway on approach to the airport near Martinsville, and was attempting to circle around for another landing attempt when the plane crashed into nearby Bull Mountain.

Rescuers were being hampered by the remote location of the crash, apparently only accessible by all terrain vehicles. Officials believe all on board were killing in the crash.  WCNC reports that Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Jeff Turner, as well as John Hendrick's daughters Kimberly and Jennifer, were also on board.

The plane was en route to Martinsville for the Subway 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, held at the speedway earlier today. NASCAR released no information about the crash during the race, and all post-race celebrations were cancelled.

Hendrick Motorsports four drivers were told of the crash following the race, which was won by Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson.

Following the race, Johnson and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports teams were excused from victory lane and summoned to the NASCAR hauler.

NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said NASCAR has spoken with Rick Hendrick and the FAA.

"We're working very closely with members of the Hendrick organization," Hunter said. "We're just saying extra prayers right now."

Hendrick Motorsports recently celebrated the team's 20th Anniversary, highlighted last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway with all five Hendrick Motorsports entries sporting special paint jobs for the race, which was also won by Johnson.

One of NASCAR's most dominant teams, Hendrick Motorsports has won five Nextel Cup Championships, three Craftsman Truck Series titles and one Busch Series title.

The team began racing in 1984 with a one-car operation, featuring driver Geoffrey Bodine. The team has been home to some of NASCAR's biggest stars, including Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon.

The author can be contacted petem@autoracing1.com

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