A driver died Saturday night in a crash during a race at Langley Speedway, officials at the Virginia short track said.
Driver Shawn Balluzzo, who was 64, died following a crash during the second of two Modified Division races, the speedway said in a statement Sunday. The Virginian-Pilot reported Balluzzo was the winningest driver in the history of the track.
“He won the hearts of our fans with 11 track championships and a driving style that made him one of the most respected competitors we’ve ever known,” the statement said.
Balluzzo's death was the first at the track in a racing-related accident since 2004, the newspaper reported.
Balluzzo won 16 of 17 division races in 2019. He finished second in the first of Saturday's twin 50-lap races, which were the season openers for the Modifieds, and congratulated the winner on Facebook: “Big congrats to Matt Carter on his win!”
During the second race, Balluzzo's car went airborne after bumping another car and crashed front-first into a wall.
“I saw him impact the wall head-on and you know that’s never a good hit,” driver Mark Wertz said. “You don’t think it’s as bad as it was, but it was kind of surreal.”
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Emergency workers extricated Balluzzo from his vehicle after cutting the roof off. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died.
The race was shortened to 30 laps, and Carter won again.
“Shawn’s great, he was a legend out here,” Carter said. “He’s dominated this series for many years.
“It’s always been my goal to beat him because he’s been the ‘Modified Man’ out here. It was a great night (for me) and it turned into a tragedy.”
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