Drag Strip Deaths


      1985-1989 Fatalities
Ray Alexander


Died:  1985



Full Name: 


Drag Strip:  Unknown


Accident Date:  1985

Car:  top fuel Harley-Davidson motorcycle

Biographical:  He was purportedly killed at a regional meet in spring 1985. He resided in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Research has been unable to find any other information about him.




Martin Blades

Born:  April 27, 1946

Died:  April 11, 1987

Buried:  Ohio

Age: 40

Full Name:  Martin G. Blades


Drag Strip:  Piedmont Drag Strip, Julian, North Carolina

Event:  IDBA-sanctioned meet

Accident Date:  April 11, 1987

Car:  motorcycle

Biographical:  He was killed when his motorcycle got off the paved part of the race track and slammed into a guard rail.  Two years later, his wife, Sonja Blades, brought a $10 million lawsuit against the race track and International Drag Bike Association.  She alleged that the race track was at fault for not canceling the race because of high, gusty crosswinds.  He was from Ohio. 


"Motorcycle suit," Hendersonville Times-News, April 1, 1989

Social Security Death Index


Tony Boden

Born:  1940 or 1941

Died:  August 1986



Full Name:  

Nickname:  Super Bode

Drag Strip:  Hockenheimring, Germany


Accident Date:  August 9, 1986

Car:  "Hit Man" 1980 Dodge Omni FC

Biographical:  When his car caught fire during a run at about three-quarter track, he lost control and his car went airborne.  He then struck a retaining wall and the fuel cell exploded.  He was trapped inside the car upside down.  Unfortunately he had decided not to wear his fireproof Nomex underwear because the day had been so hot.  He suffered severe burns because of this decision.  He was transported to Hockenheim hospital where he died a week later from severe injuries and burns.  He lived in England where he had begun top fuel and funny car racing in 1981.  He had turned a best time of 6.27 in the funny car.  He was from Wincanton, Somerset, England.




Trakbytes Hall of Fame (http://www.trakbytes.co.uk/hoftb.html)

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=1149)

England & Wales Birth Index (two possible people: Anthony G. Boden, registered Jan-Mar 1935, Chesterfield district, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, mother’s maiden name was Swinburn; and Anthony J. Boden, registered Jul-Sep. 1935, Walsall district, Staffordshire, mother’s maiden name was Bedworth; further research needed)


DragList.com (http://www.draglist.com/artman2/publish/daily_stories/80_s_FC_Europe_Part_Two.shtml)

http://www.ukdrn.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1057 (accessed 12/25/10)


Ken Caddis

Born:  November 5, 1955

Died:  October 9, 1988

Buried: Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery, Hagler, Alabama

Age:  32

Full Name:  Kenneth Wayne Caddis


Drag Strip:  Dale County Dragway, Alabama


Accident Date:  October 8, 1988

Car:  1988 Pontiac Trans Am Mountain Pro Stock

Biographical:  After his car ran out of control and flipped over, he was transported to a local hospital.  With severe head injuries, he was then flown by helicopter to Southeast Alabama Medical Center where he died early the next morning.  He was from Duncanville, Alabama.


"Lakeland woman dies in Alabama highway crash," Lakeland Ledger, October 9, 1988

"Six killed in accidents," Florence Times Daily, October 9, 1988

Social Security Death Index:  Kenneth W. Caddis, b. 5 Nov. 1955, d. 9 Oct. 1988, SS# issued Alabama 1971

U. S. Public Records Index: Kenneth Caddis, b. 5 Nov. 1955, residence Duncanville, AL


John DelSordo

Born:  January 24, 1958

Died:  August 14, 1985


Age:  27

Full Name:  John J. DelSordo


Drag Strip:  Atco Raceway, Atco, New Jersey

Event:  annual Night of Thrills competition

Accident Date:  August 14, 1985

Car:  Chevrolet Chevette

Biographical:  He had just finished a qualifying run at 137 MPH when the engine on his car blew up.  It skidded in its own oil and swerved across the lanes.  It flipped three times and went over the guard rail.  It came to a stop 100 feet from the race track in the woods.  He was transported to West Jersey Health Systems in Berlin, New Jersey, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  He suffered multiple injuries.  He lived in Springfield, Pennsylvania.


"Driver killed at N.J. raceway," Gainesville Sun, August 16, 1985

"Drag-race driver is killed at Atco," Philadelphia Inquirer, August 16, 1985

"Driver error blamed for fatal Atco drag strip accident," Camden Courier-Post, Aug. 16, 1985

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7524)

Social Security Death Index (SS# issued Pennsylvania)

U.S. Public Records Index (John J. Delsordo, lived at 540 W. Woodland Ave., Springfield, PA 19064, phone 259-3855)


Paul Gant

Born:  February 11, 1944

Died:  November 23, 1987


Age:  43

Full Name:   Paul Edward Gant


Drag Strip:  Moroso Motorsports Park, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Event:  NHRA Coors Five-Day Bracket Championships

Accident Date:  November 23, 1987

Car:  Chevrolet Camaro

Biographical:  After being timed at 8.03 seconds and 177.16 MPH, he overshot the drag strip and flipped upside down in a canal.  He was estimated to be traveling at about 150 MPH when he went into the 12-foot deep canal.  His parachute didn't open properly.  He steered to the left at the end of the race track to avoid the safety net.  If he would have hit the net, he probably would have survived.  He was taken to Jupiter Hospital, but had already succumbed.  He was from Miami, Florida.


"Gant killed in accident," Ocala Star-Banner, November 25, 1987

"Drag racer dies when chute fails," Palm Beach Post, November 25, 1987

"Drag racer killed in Florida," Anchorage Daily News, November 25, 1987

"Race car driver dies in Moroso accident," Miami News, November 25, 1987

"Miami driver killed in drag strip crash," St. Petersburg Times, November 25, 1987 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=4285)


Jay Gearhart

Born:  December 11, 1943

Died:  May 9, 1986

Buried: Comstock Cemetery, Michigan

Age: 42

Full Name:   Jay Thomas Gearhart


Drag Strip:  U. S. 131 Dragway, Martin, Michigan


Accident Date:  May 9, 1986


Biographical:  His car skidded off the track at 135 MPH and rolled several times.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  He was from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was .


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Death File:  Jay Gearhart, b. Dec. 11, 1943, d. May 9, 1986

Social Security Death Index: Jay Gearhart, b. Dec. 11, 1943, d. May 1986

Michigan Deaths:  Jay T. Gearhart, b. Dec. 11, 1943, d. May 9, 1986, Martin, Michigan, resided in Cooper, Michigan 

Find a Grave:  Comstock Cemetery, Comstock, Michigan, age 42

Mike DeVries, e-mail communication with site administrator, May 8, 2012

"Don Cerio's death believed to be the third fatality at Martin's U.S. 131 Motorsports Park," MLive.com, May 8, 2012.


Find a Grave


Ernie Hall

Born:  January 30, 1934

Died:  August 4, 1989

Buried: Forest View Cemetery, Forest Grove, Oregon

Age:  55

Full Name:   Ernest G. Hall


Drag Strip:  Seattle International Raceway, Washington

Event:  NHRA Seafair Nationals

Accident Date:  August 4, 1989

Car:  T/F dragster

Biographical:  During that day's time trials, he had clocked a time of 5.68 at 250.55 MPH in his T/F dragster.  While repacking the parachute on his dragster in the pit area, he collapsed with a heart attack.  He had been a drag racer for nearly two decades.  He was taken to Harbor View Hospital in Seattle where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  He owned a fire-truck building company in Cornelius, Oregon, where he lived.


"Drag racer Ernie Hall, 55, dies of coronary at meet," Oregonian, August 5, 1989

Washington Death Index (Ernest G. Hall, died Aug. 4, 1989, Seattle, age 55, born ca. 1934)

Social Security Death Index (E. G. Hall, born January 30, 1934, died Aug. 15, 1989, SS# issued Oregon 1952; this is Ernie Hall despite different death date)

Robbin Peckham, e-mail communication to site administrator, Apr. 5, 2013


http://www.supercarsunlimited.com/pirbrackets/history/drags/dragpics2.htm (accessed 12/25/10)

Ernie Hall (http://www.capracing.com/Ernie_Hall/album/index.html)

Find a Grave



Anders Hasselström


Died:  July 22, 1988



Full Name:  Lee-Anders Hasselström

Nickname:  "Red Baron"

Drag Strip:  Piteå Dragway, Sweden

Event:  Swedish Fuel Championships

Accident Date:  July 22, 1988

Car:  "Coca-Cola" 1986 Chevrolet Corvette FC

Biographical:  He was killed while making a qualifying run.  His best speed in the quarter mile was 258 MPH.


YouTube--In Celebration of Life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oin0mGYJtcE)

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=6632)


Hall of Fame (http://race68.com/hallof.htm)

70s Funny Cars  (http://www.70sfunnycars.com/FunnyCars39.html)

DragList.com  (http://www.draglist.com/artman2/publish/daily_stories/80_s_FC_Europe.shtml) 



This is Hasselström's first funny car that he bought in 1977, the "Denim Machine" Monza.


Hasselström competed with this Camaro FC in 1987.

Walter Henry

Born:  March 27, 1948

Died:  October 29, 1989


Age: 41

Full Name:  Walter Wayne Henry


Drag Strip:  Atco Raceway, New Jersey

Event:  IHRA

Accident Date:   October 29, 1989

Car:  Pro Modified "Denver Fever" 1988 Chevrolet Corvette

Biographical:  He died from a crash at an event designed to introduce drag race fans to the new class of Pro Mod.  The car class was so new that they weren't even called Pro Mod at the time.  They were given the name Pro Slammers or Outlaw Pro Stocks.  Sixteen of these cars were invited to Atco.  Henry made it into the second or third round before his fatal crash.   He started in the right lane, but careened over into the left lane, where he got hung up scraping along the guard rail. He hit the finish line I-beam barrier head-on and was killed instantly.  The guard rail had been constructed to protect a racer from hitting the I-beam, but Walter's approach from the opposite lane caused him to get around the configuration in an unprotected direction.  In addition to racing another car on that fatal run, he was trying to back up a 200+ MPH run he had made earlier.  His wife and teenage son were among the spectators.


DragList.com Forum  (http://www.draglist.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2326&p=51564&hilit=killed#p51564) 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=5194)

"Animal Jim" Feurer, e-mail communication, February 2, 2010

North Carolina Death Collection: Walter Wayne Henry, b. 27 Mar. 1948, Maryland, d. 29 Oct. 1989, New Jersey, age 41, residence Rowan, NC, married, buried out of state 


"Animal Jim" Feurer, e-mail communication, March 5, 2010




Tim Hudson

Born:  July 12, 1954

Died:  June 1, 1985

Buried:  Providence Cemetery, Spring Ridge, Louisiana

Age:  30

Full Name:   Timothy K. Hudson


Drag Strip:  Greenville Drag Strip, Mississippi


Accident Date:   June 1, 1985

Car:  After his engine exploded, Hudson was partially thrown through the car's window and the car rolled over him three times. He was from Sterlington, Louisiana.



"Man killed while drag racing," Jackson Clarion-Ledger, June 3, 1985

Social Security Death Index


Jimmy Karash

Born:  January 21, 1961

Died:  August 20, 1988

Buried:  Cadillac Memorial Gardens-East, Clinton Township, Michigan

Age:  27

Full Name:  James Alexander Karash


Drag Strip:  Detroit Dragway, Michigan


Accident Date:   August 20, 1988

Car:  1986 Dodge Daytona

Biographical:  While racing in the left lane, he lost control of the car at over 130 MPH, rolling over several times.


"Introducing: Deborah Graziani," Detroit Free Press, Mar. 25, 1990


Barry Krista

Born:  May 30, 1957

Died:  May 4, 1985

Buried: Saint Agnes Cemetery, Branford, Connecticut

Age:  27

Full Name:  Barry G. Krista


Drag Strip:  Madison Township Raceway Park, near Englishtown, New Jersey


Accident Date:   May 4, 1985


Biographical:  He was killed when he lost control of the car halfway down the track. His car flipped several times and landed on the roof.  He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was from North Branford, Connecticut, the son of Edward H. and Lucille Krista.  He was also survived by his siblings, Edward, Gerayln, Scott, Maureen, and Christopher.


"Auto racing," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 6, 1985

"Man killed as car flips during drag race at track," Camden Courier-Post, May 6, 1985

"People in sports," Providence Journal, May 7, 1985

Connecticut Death Index:  Barry G. Krista, born May 30, 1957 in Conn., died May 5, 1985 in Old Saybrook, New Jersey, age 27, never married, lived in North Branford, CT


Morgan Luona


Died:  July 5, 1986

Buried:  Luleå, Sweden

Age: 27

Full Name: 


Drag Strip:  Piteå Dragway, Sweden


Event Date: July 5, 1986

Car:  1967 Chevy Monza Funny Car

Biographical:   He crashed his car during qualifications. He lived in Luleå, Sweden.


Tomas Johansson, e-mail communication to site administrator, Aug. 28, 2014


Tomas Johansson, e-mail communication to site administrator, Aug. 30, 2014




Bob March

Born:  December 7, 1947

Died:  August 1, 1987


Age:  39

Full Name:  Robert Eugene March

Nickname:  "Strangler"

Drag Strip:  Baylands Raceway Park, Fremont, California

Event:  Nitro Fire

Accident Date:   August 1, 1987

Car:  "The March Wind"

Biographical:  He sped off the end of the race track through a catch fence and past a sand trap.  He was from Martinez, California, and was survived by his wife, Elaine.


"Drag-race driver dies after crash at Baylands," San Jose Mercury News, August 2, 1987

"Panic alleged in death at Baylands," San Jose Mercury News, October 20, 1987

"Race track death prompts widow to sue for $5 million," San Jose Mercury News, March 15, 1988

"Dragster badly hurt at Baylands," San Jose Mercury News, November 7, 1988

California Death Index (Robert Eugene March, born December 7, 1947, in Massachusetts, died August 1, 1987, in Alameda, Calif., mother’s maiden name was Madox)

Social Security Death Index (Robert March, born Dec. 7, 1947, died August 1987, SS# issued in Massachusetts in 1962)

Curtis Ecklund, e-mail communication with site administrator, June 27, 2014


Gary Mardlin

Born:  July 8, 1942

Died:  August 23, 1987


Age:  45

Full Name:   Gary Edwin Mardlin


Drag Strip:   Ubly Dragway, Michigan


Accident Date:   August 23, 1987


Biographical: A reader wrote that this racer's death resulted from a fatal drag racing accident. More research is needed.


Social Security Death Index

Michigan Death Index

Ted Hart, email communication to site administrator, Mar. 9. 2015


Eddie Reddish

Born:  January 28, 1956

Died:  September 22, 1985

Buried:  Fairview Memorial Gardens, Stockbridge, Georgia

Age:  28

Full Name:  Eddie B. Reddish

Nickname:   Byro

Drag Strip:  Atlanta Speedshop Dragway, Georgia


Accident Date:   September 22, 1985


Biographical:  He died in a collision with another vehicle.  He was transported to Newton County General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  He was from Decatur, Georgia.


"Two drivers killed in drag racing wrecks," Atlanta Journal-Consitution, September 24, 1985

"Two area drag racers killed," Atlanta Journal-Consitution, September 23, 1985

Georgia Deaths (Eddie B. Reddish, died September 22, 1985, in Newton Co., Georgia, age 29, residence in Dekalb Co., Georgia)

U.S. Public Records Index (Eddie Reddish, born January 28, 1956, address is 1538 Fairlake Dr., Decatur, GA)


Jack Roberts

Born:  January 4, 1947

Died:  January 28, 1989

Buried: Lauderdale Memorial Park, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Age:  42

Full Name:  Jack Lewis Roberts


Drag Strip:  Moroso Motorsports Park,  West Palm Beach, Florida


Accident Date:   January 28, 1989

Car:  Chevrolet  Monza

Biographical:  He lost control of his car at 138 MPH and it rolled over. He lived in Plantation, Florida, and was survived by his wife and two sons.


"Jack Roberts, drag racer, station owner," Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, February 1, 1989

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=4292)


Find a Grave


Kent Rogers


Died:  September 1985


Age:  32

Full Name: 


Drag Strip:  Willowbank Raceway, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia


Accident Date:  September 1985

Car:  LX Torana hatch

Biographical:  He died during qualifying on the very first opening race for Willowbank's new drag strip.  The car went up and over the guard rail.  The bottom loop of the harness pulled through the floor so there was nothing to secure him and he was ejected from the car.


"Anniversary revs memories," Queensland Times, Sep. 20, 2010

Mick Lewin, e-mail to site administrator, Feb. 24, 2011




Dwight Shepard

Born:  July 27, 1940

Died:  May 5, 1989


Age:  48

Full Name:  Dwight William Shepard


Drag Strip:  Great Lakes Dragaway, Union Grove, Wisconsin


Accident Date:  May 5, 1989

Car:  nitro-fueled 1989 Chevrolet Beretta

Biographical:  He was making a time trial run in his nitro-fueled car in which he was clocked at 168 MPH.  After crossing the finish line, his rear tires lost traction and the car began slipping sideways.  The car went off the race track, struck a guard rail, and burst into flames.  Track personnel extinguished the fire and removed Shepard from the vehicle.  He was transported to St. Catherine's Hospital in Kenosha where he died about two hours after the accident.  He was from Oak Forest, Illinois.


"Dateline: Union Grove, Wis.," Associated Press, May 6, 1989

"Dragster killed," Spartanburg Herald-Journal, May 6, 1989

Wisconsin Death Index: Dwight William Shepard, d. May 5, 1989

“Drag racing,” Chicago Tribune, May 7, 1989

U. S. Public Records Index:  Dwight W. Shepard, b.  27 July 1940, residence Crestwood, IL in 1958

Ancestry Family Tree:  Dwight William Shepard, b. 27 July 1940, Chicago, IL, son of Lyman S. and Anna Hornoff Shepard 


Lee Shepherd

Born:  August 30, 1944

Died:  March 11, 1985

Buried:  Mount Olivet Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas

Age:  40

Full Name:   Lee Alan Shepherd


Drag Strip:  Ardmore Raceway, Oklahoma

Event:  testing

Accident Date:  March 11, 1985

Car:  Pro Stock

Biographical:  He was preparing for the forthcoming Gatornationals and had leased the race track to test a new car.  It was extremely windy.  He had just finished a practice run and deployed the parachute.  The front end of the car came off the ground and he lost control.  The car veered to the left and Shepherd had the wheels turned to the right to correct it when the front end came back to the ground.  It rolled several times and landed upside down.  At the impact, he was ripped from his harness and thrown from the vehicle a distance of 163 feet.  He was transported to an Ardmore hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. The severe crosswind was determined to be a major factor in causing the accident. He was a resident of Arlington, Texas, and was a five-time national drag racing champion in Pro Stock, four times in NHRA and once in IHRA.  He had garnered 29 NHRA national event wins.  He had been racing since 1970.



"Drag racer Shepherd killed in crash," Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1985

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=1938) 

Social Security Death Index (Lee A. Shepherd, born Aug. 30, 1944, died Mar. 11, 1985, SS# issued Texas in 1960)

Texas Death Index

Texas Marriage Collection (Lee A. Shepherd, age 39, married Marcia A. Brown (age 25) on Oct. 28, 1983, in Tarrant Co., Texas)


"The Legend of Lee Shepherd," CompetitionPlus Magazine  (www.competitionplus.com/08_19_2004/lee_shepherd.html) 



Jerry Simpson

Born:  July 24, 1960

Died:  August 3, 1986


Age:  26

Full Name:  Jerry J. Simpson


Drag Strip:   Byron Dragway,  Illinois


Accident Date:  August 3, 1986

Car:  rear-engined dragster

Biographical:  After passing the finish line at an estimated speed of about 150 MPH, his dragster collided with a deer that had run onto the race track from the nearby woods.  He had run 8.95 seconds in the time trial and the collision was of such force as to cause the car to stop quite quickly.  Although safety personnel reached the scene quickly, Simpson soon died. Eyewitnesses reported that the deer's body slammed into Simpson's helmeted head.  He was from Streator, Illinois.


"Probe sought in Rogers case," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 5, 1986

Simpson v. Byron Dragway, Inc.  (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=3713725013352214076)

U. S. Public Records Index: Jerry J. Simpson, b. 24 July 1960, residence Streator, IL 


Terry Stockton

Born:  March 25, 1951

Died:  September 7. 1986

Buried:  Little Brown Cemetery, New Site, Mississippi

Age:  35

Full Name:  Terry Neil Stockton


Drag Strip:  Fulton Dragway, Mississippi


Accident Date:  September 7, 1986


Biographical:  He was driving a relatively new car and the vehicle kept speeding after the finish line. He sped off the end of the track, hitting five trees before the car finally came to a stop. Authorities thought the accelerator may have stuck.


"Racer's accelerator may have stuck," Clarksdale Press Register, Sep. 9, 1986

Social Security Applications and Claims Index


Mickey Tadlock

Born:  June 28, 1939

Died:  May 27, 1985

Buried:  Hillcrest Cemetery, Temple, Texas

Age:  45

Full Name:  Mickey Lee Tadlock


Drag Strip:  State Capitol Dragway,  Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Event:  NHRA Cajun Nationals

Accident Date:  May 25, 1985


Biographical:  He crashed his car during a qualifying round.  He was from Austin, Texas.


"Names in sports," Wilmington Morning Star, May 27, 1985 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=3343)


Find a Grave website


Sherry Williams


Died:  March 26, 1989


Age:  29

Full Name:   


Drag Strip:  Orangeburg Drag Strip, Neeses, South Carolina


Accident Date:  March 26, 1989

Car:  1984 Harley Davidson motorcycle

Biographical:  A professional motorcycle racer, Williams lost control of her bike and hit a guardrail. She was transported to the Orangeburg Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. She was from Hudson, Florida.


"Motorcycle racer dies after accident," Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, Mar. 28, 1989

"Biker dies," Orlando Sentinel, Mar. 28, 1989

"Racer killed," Des Moines Register, Mar. 28, 1989


Mark Woodley

Born:  March 27, 1956

Died:  September 1986


Age:  30

Full Name:   Mark Julian D. Woodley


Drag Strip:  Santa Pod Raceway, Podington, England

Event:  World Finals

Accident Date:  September 1986

Car:  "Hellbender" jet dragster

Biographical:  He was racing Colin Fallows in a side-by-side jet car race.  At the top end, Woodley took a hard left turn from the right lane into the crash barrier.  He was killed upon impact.  As a result of this crash, all subsequent jet car exhibitions in Great Britain have been solo runs.



"Driver died in Vampire twin," Sunday Mirror, September 24, 2006 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=1150) 

England & Wales Death Index (Mark Julian D. Woodley, born Mar. 27, 1956, death registration was Dec. 1986, age 30, Bedford registration district, Bedfordshire)


Jet Car Archive (http://jetcararchive.blogspot.com/)


Don Young

Born:  April 15, 1947

Died:  September 22, 1985

Buried: Carroll Memory Gardens, Carrollton, Georgia

Age:  38

Full Name:   Donald Young


Drag Strip:  Bristol International Dragway, Tennessee

Event:  IHRA WCYB Fall Nationals

Accident Date:  September 1985

Car:  Top Sportsman dragster

Biographical:  He had just finished a run against Eric Hinderberger of Cincinnati in the second round of eliminations when it appeared that his front disc brakes appeared to lock up at the finish line.  His dragster veered sharply to the left, crossing behind his opponent, whereupon he smashed into the left guard rail and support post.  He was traveling at a speed of about 145 MPH at the time of the impact and was thrown from the vehicle.  He died instantly.  He was a resident of Carrollton, Georgia, and was survived by his wife, Pam, and two young children, April and Scott.  He was the IHRA world champion in 1984 in the Quick Rod category.  He had a substantial lead over his nearest competitor in the point standings in 1985 in the Top Sportsman category at the time of his death and garnered the title (although posthumously) for the second year in a row.  He had been a professional drag racer since 1976.


"Sports," San Diego Union-Tribune, September 23, 1985

"Newswire," Los Angeles Times, September 23, 1985

"Dateline: Bristol, Tenn.," Associated Press, September 22, 1985

"Drag racer Young earns honor in death," Charleston Post & Courier, Dec. 25, 1985

"Sports people," Spokesman-Review, September 22, 1985

"The year 1985 in auto racing," The Globe and Mail, December 27, 1985

"Carrollton man killed in wreck at dragstrip," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 23, 1985

"Remembering the man who taught David Rampy how to win," CompetitionPlus Magazine, January 31, 2007 (http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/feature-stories/1619-don-young)

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=5583) 

Georgia Deaths (D. Young, age 38, died September 22, 1985, lived in Carroll Co., GA)

Social Security Death Index (Don Young, born Apr. 15, 1947, died Sep. 1985, SS# issued 1963 in Georgia)


"Remembering the man who taught David Rampy how to win," CompetitionPlus Magazine, January 31, 2007 (http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/feature-stories/1619-don-young)



Ron Zanolli

Born:  August 16, 1941

Died:  August 30, 1987

Buried:  St. Mary's Cemetery, Westfield, Massachusetts

Age:  46

Full Name:  Ronald Joseph Zanolli


Drag Strip:  Lebanon Valley Speedway, West Lebanon, New York


Accident Date:  August 30, 1987

Car:  Chevrolet Monza

Biographical:  He was traveling at about 139 MPH when he crossed the finish line on his fourth run of the day.  At the end of the run, his parachute failed to open or was not properly deployed.  He died when his car went out of control, skidded 600 feet, became airborne, and hit a tree.  He was transported to Pittsfield Hospital in Massachusetts, where his death certificate was filed.  He used special hand controls because he drove with both legs being amputated.  He was from Westfield, Massachusetts, and had raced for about twelve years.


"Amputee drag racer killed at track," Associated Press, August 31, 1987

"Double amputee killed in car race," Boston Globe, September 1, 1987

"Amputee race driver dies when chute fails," New York Times, September 1, 1987 

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7409) 

Massachusetts Death Index (Ronald J. Zanolli, died Aug. 30, 1987 in Pittsfield, born Aug. 16, 1941 in Massachusetts)

Social Security Death Index (Ronald Zanolli, born Aug. 16, 1941, died Aug. 15, 1987 [sic] SS# issued Connecticut in 1956-57, last residence was Westfield, MA)


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