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
Following the race, Johnson and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports
teams were excused from victory lane and summoned to the NASCAR
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
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
to discuss this article