Hendrick Motorsports plane crash kills 10
A plane owned by the Hendrick Motorsports organization crashed Sunday on its way to a NASCAR race, killing all 10 people aboard, federal officials said.
A spokesman for a funeral home where the bodies were being taken said the dead included the son, brother and two nieces of Rick Hendrick, owner of one of the most successful organizations in NASCAR history.
The Beech 200 took off from Concord, N.C., and crashed in the Bull Mountain area about seven miles west of the Martinsville airport about 12:30 p.m., said Arlene Murray, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The weather in the area was overcast at the time of the crash, according to Jan Jackson of the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said investigators were on their way to the crash site, which was in rough terrain, but could not begin their examination until Monday.
Hendrick owns the teams of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers, who competed in Sunday's Subway 500 in the Nextel Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway.
NASCAR learned of the plane's disappearance during the race but withheld the information from the Hendrick drivers until afterward, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. All the Hendrick drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler immediately after the race and Johnson, who won the race, was excused from Victory Lane.
NASCAR had spoken with Rick Hendrick. "We're just saying extra prayers right now,' Hunter said.
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 over 100 Cup series wins, making Hendrick just the second team owner in NASCAR's modern era to surpass that mark.
Harry Litten, manager of Moody Funeral Service in Stuart, said the state police had given him this list of those on the plane:
Ricky Hendrick, Rick Hendrick's son and a retired NASCAR driver; John Hendrick, Rick Hendrick's brother and president of the organization; Kimberly and Jennifer Hendrick, John Hendrick's twin daughters; Joe Jackson; Jeff Turner; Randy Dorton, the team's chief engine builder; Scott Latham, a pilot for NASCAR driver Tony Stewart; and pilots Dick Tracy and Liz Morrison.
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 suffered in a racing accident. His father then made him the owner of the Busch car Vickers drove to the series championship last season, and that Kyle Busch currently pilots.
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.
Deputies barricaded the entrance to the Hendrick shop in Charlotte, allowing only team employees to enter the compound. Twenty or so people could be seen in the parking lot inside.
A small bouquet of flowers had been placed at the entrance gate.