1 Dead, 9 Hurt as Lightning Strikes NASCAR Raceway

Race was cut short, but bolt hit parking lot
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2012 12:39 AM CDT
Updated Aug 6, 2012 1:01 AM CDT
1 Dead, 9 Hurt as Lightning Strikes NASCAR Racway
Crew members push Ryan Newman's car in a downpour that shortened the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., where a fan was killed in a lightning strike.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A NASCAR fan was killed and nine others were injured yesterday when lightning struck the parking lot behind the grandstand of Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway. One of the injured was in critical condition. The race was called early because of stormy weather. A witness said that he and a friend "ran into our truck during all the nasty weather. The visibility was very poor and all of a sudden I saw a bolt of lightning right in front of our windshield," he told Sporting News. "When it became a little more visible, we saw two bodies next to a destroyed tent with people scrambling." The track posted warnings on its Twitter page to more than 22,000 followers close to the end of the race urging fans to quickly seek shelter. “Hoping for the safety of all the fans that are leaving in this crazy storm," tweeted the track president. "Please seek shelter as there is a lot of cloud-to-ground lightning.”

There were also warnings over loudspeakers to evacuate the grandstand—but none to leave the area as quickly as possible, track officials told AP. Attendance was estimated at close to 85,000. "Unfortunately, a member of our raceway family, a fan, has passed away," said a racetrack official. Driver Jeff Gordon, who won the race that was cut from 160 to 98 laps, said he could hear a huge crack as he walked down the pit road during the storm. "You could tell it was very close," he said. (More lightning stories.)

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