Plane carrying NASCAR owner crash lands in Fla.
Posted October 31, 2011
Updated November 1, 2011
KEY WEST, Fla. — A small jet carrying the owner of NASCAR's top team and his wife lost its brakes and crash landed at a Key West, Fla., airport Monday evening, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The Gulfstream 150 aircraft ran off the runway at the Key West International Airport Monday at 7:45 p.m. Rick and Linda Hendrick, a pilot and co-pilot were all taken to Lower Keys Medical Centers. The Hendricks had minor injuries and the pilot and co-pilot were taken in as a precaution, said county airport director Peter Horton.
The plane is registered to Jimmie Johnson Racing II Incorporate in Charlotte, N.C. Johnson is a five-time defending NASCAR champion and drives for Hendrick Motorsports, which Rick Hendrick, 62, owns.
Hendrick's team, based in Concord, N.C., was recognized by Forbes in February as the most valuable in motorsports. Besides Johnson, he also fields cars for four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. The team recently celebrated its 199th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the pilot and co-pilot radioed that the plane had no brakes upon landing in Key West. Horton said the plane ran off the runway, and then 100 feet beyond a 600-foot safety area that was finished in May.
"If we hadn't done that, it likely would have been a different story," Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space.
Photographs of the crash show the plane largely intact and with its nose resting on the ground about 20 feet in front of a chain-linked airport boundary fence.
The National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.
Family familiar with tragedy
Monday's crash was not the first to touch the Hendricks. In 2004, a plane owned by Hendrick Motorsports and carrying 10 people crashed in the foothills of the Appalachians on a trip from Concord, N.C. to a race in Martinsville, Va. Hendrick's son, Ricky, who was just 24 and a NASCAR driver, and the Hendrick team president and general manager were killed.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane was attempting to land in foggy weather, missed the runway once, then veered off course and slammed into the mountain. Everyone on board died.
In addition to Ricky Hendrick, those on the plane were: John Hendrick, Rick Hendrick's brother and president of Hendrick Motorsports; Kimberly and Jennifer Hendrick, John Hendrick's 22-year-old twin daughters; Joe Jackson, an executive with DuPont, which sponsored Jeff Gordon's car; Jeff Turner, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports; Randy Dorton, the team's chief engine builder; Scott Lathram, a pilot for NASCAR driver Tony Stewart; and pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison.
Airborne dangers of racing
NASCAR team owner Jack Roush, 69, was banged up but able to walk away in July 2010 when his plane had a hard landing at at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Roush, who was piloting the plane from Detroit, bounced it on the runway, cracking the fuselage, the Associated Press reported. He and a friend were treated at a hospital for some cuts and scrapes.
Roush was not so lucky in 2002 when he crash landed at P-51 aircraft in a lake near Talledega, Ala. Roush was knocked unconscious by that crash and had to be pulled from the water by someone who saw it happen.