On the plane Passengers on the airplane that crashed near Martinsville, Va.:
Ricky Hendrick, former race driver, Busch Series car owner and son of Rick Hendrick
John Hendrick, Rick Hendrick's brother and president of Hendrick Motorsports
Jennifer Hendrick, John Hendrick's daughter
Kimberly Hendrick, John Hendrick's daughter
Jeff Turner, Hendrick Motorsports general manager
Randy Dorton, chief engine builder at Hendrick Motorsports
Scott Lathram, Tony Stewart's pilot
Dick Tracy, pilot
Liz Morrison, pilot
Joe Jackson, DuPont executive
October 25, 2004
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- A Hendrick Motorsports plane
crashed Sunday on its way to a NASCAR race, killing all 10 people
aboard, including the son, brother and two nieces of the owner of
one of auto racing's most successful organizations.
The Beech 200 took off from Concord, N.C., and
crashed in the Bull Mountain area seven miles from Martinsville's
Blue Ridge Regional Airport about 12:30 p.m., said Arlene Murray,
spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The dead included the four relatives of Rick
Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said Harry Litten, a
spokesman for Moody Funeral Service, where the bodies were being
taken. He said state police gave him a list of the people aboard
It was overcast when the plane went down, but the
cause of the crash was not immediately known. National
Transportation and Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said
investigators were on their way to the site, which was in rough
terrain, and would begin their investigation today.
It was "extremely foggy" in the area of the crash,
said Dale Greeson, who lives about a mile from where the plane went
Hendrick owns the teams of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie
Johnson, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers, who raced Sunday in the
Subway 500 in the Nextel Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway.
In the race, Johnson pulled away from Rusty Wallace
and Ryan Newman on a restart with seven laps to go to win and climb
four spots in the season-ending title chase.
Johnson's celebration of his series-high sixth
victory of the season was cut short. Shortly after the race, the
team's drivers received word of the crash.
Another solid performance by Kurt Busch moved him
one step closer to winning NASCAR's first playoff championship.
"You've got to step up to the plate and race hard
in each of these final 10" races, Busch said after finishing fifth,
his sixth top-six run in as many races since the playoff started.
"We had a regular season and now we have a playoff and right now we
haven't had a bad finish."
NASCAR learned of the Hendrick plane's
disappearance during the race but withheld the news from the
drivers until afterward, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. The
Hendrick drivers were then summoned to the NASCAR hauler, and
Johnson was excused from victory lane.
NASCAR also had spoken with Rick Hendrick.
"We're working very closely with members of the
Hendrick organization," Hunter said. "We're just saying extra
prayers right now."
Hendrick had been on a season-long celebration of
its 20th anniversary in NASCAR's top series. The organization has
won five of the series' top titles, three truck series titles and
one Busch Series crown.
The team has more than 100 Cup series wins, making
Hendrick just the second team owner in NASCAR's modern era to
surpass that mark.
Citing the state police list, Litten said the
people aboard the plane were:
Ricky Hendrick, 24, Rick Hendrick's son and a
retired NASCAR driver; John Hendrick, 53, Rick Hendrick's brother
and president of the organization; and Kimberly and Jennifer
Hendrick, both 22, John Hendrick's twin daughters.
Also, Joe Jackson, an executive at DuPont, which
sponsors Gordon's car; Jeff Turner, Hendrick Motorsports general
manager; Randy Dorton, the team's chief engine builder; Scott
Lathram, a pilot for NASCAR driver Tony Stewart; and pilots Dick
Tracy and Liz Morrison. Their ages were not available Sunday
Rick Hendrick recently began grooming Ricky
Hendrick for a larger role with the company. Ricky began his career
driving a Busch car for his father but retired in 2002 because of a
shoulder injury caused by a racing accident.
Hendrick employs more than 400 workers at the
Charlotte, N.C.-based Motorsports compound, which includes race
shops and a 15,000-square-foot museum and team store.
"Hendrick Motorsports asks that those affected be
kept in your thoughts and prayers, and respectfully requests that
privacy be considered throughout this difficult time," the company
said in a statement released late Sunday.
In the race
While Busch led a race-high 120 laps, Gordon and
Dale Earnhardt Jr. were never a factor, allowing Busch to build his
lead to 96 points over Gordon and 125 over Earnhardt, who started
the day 24 points off the lead.
"We didn't really need this," Earnhardt said.
On the late restart, teammates Newman and Wallace
ended up battling each other as Johnson drove away. They blamed
each other for poor decision-making.