Reporting Ron Jones
MARYSVILLE (CBS13) – The investigation into exactly what happened at a Marysville race track is underway after a crash killed two people.
Early investigations suggested the driver may have lost control of his vehicle before slamming into his pit crew — killing his cousin and best friend.
“We know exactly what they are going through and we feel for them,” said Ken Brooks.
Brooks, manager at the Roseville Speedway, is still coping with the tragic news out of Marysville. Even though his track is not connected to the Marysville Raceway Park, he still considers them family.
“It sounds like a freak thing that happened,” he said.
Witnesses watched in horror Saturday when 17-year-old Chase Johnson’s sprint car flew into the pit crew area. His cousin, 14-year-old Marcus Johnson, later died, along with 68-year-old Dale Wondergem.
Investigators are looking at a possible mechanical problem that may have caused the crash.
“Our configuration was basically the same that Marysville was,” said Brooks.
He says they made modifications to the Roseville Raceway pit crew area in 2007 to avoid tragedies just like this. When a driver wants to come off the track and into the pit area, the car is forced to go uphill and then down a narrow passageway. For additional safety, the driver is squeezed into a five mile an hour lane.
If for any reason the driver is still traveling at a high rate of speed going towards the pit crew, ballards will stop the vehicle.
Now, in the wake of a tragedy, new questions arise about the safety of areas surrounding the Marysville track.
“I think you kind of have to wait and see what the report tells you,” said Brooks.
It’s estimated Chase was going 90 miles per hour when the crash happened. Race announcer Steven Blakesley says he never slowed down.