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Spectators Injured at Car Racing Track

July 22, 2001

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AMHERST, Ohio (AP) _ About 12 spectators at an auto race were injured late Saturday night when two cars lost control and crashed into the stands at Lorain County Speedway.

Lorain County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jim Drozdowski said the cars bumped each other and the drivers lost control, sending the cars over a guard rail, through a fence and into the stands during the race that features mostly local drivers.

Drozdowski said he was told 12 or 13 people were injured and taken for treatment in helicopters or ambulances.

``There were three people believed to be critically injured,″ Drozdowski said.

Rich Rankin, the track’s operations manager, said Lorain County Speedway has a seating capacity of about 2,700, and the crowd at the time of the accident was considerably smaller than that.

Rankin said the cars involved did not flip and did not catch fire, and the two drivers were treated at the scene and did not appear to be badly injured.

A rainstorm at the track about two hours earlier was not a factor because the track was dry, Rankin said.

``I can’t really say how the accident occurred,″ Rankin said. ``We’ve got to put it together. It’s far too early in the investigation to say what happened, and I think this is going to take a while to sort out.″

Bob Hennings, who was driving his car in the race on the speedway’s three-eighths mile banked, oval track, said 17 drivers were racing in a Late Models event when the accident occurred.

``It was a bad accident,″ Hennings said. ``But it’s usually a safe track.″

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