Medical personnel treat motorcycle racer Pete Lenz, 13, after he collided with another rider on a warm-up lap.(Jimmy Dawson/The Star)
By Steve Ballard
13-year-old rider in one of the support races for Sunday's MotoGP race
was killed on a warmup lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Peter Lenz, Vancouver, Wash.,
suffered what Speedway medical director Dr. Geoffrey Bellows described
as "traumatic injuries" in a crash before the start of the U.S. Grand
Prix Riders Union race.
County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew confirmed Lenz died at
Methodist Hospital. Deputy coroners were interviewing witnesses and
viewing images from the Speedway's video system.
wasn't confirmed by race officials until nearly five hours after the
accident. Stewart Aitken-Cade, chief steward of USGPRU, said that was at
the request of the Lenz family.
Although he had not yet
seen video of the accident, Aitken-Cade confirmed in a late-afternoon
news conference at the Speedway that it was the result of Lenz falling
and being hit by another rider. The other rider, Xavier Zayat, was not
Aitken-Cade said it was the first fatal accident in the nine-year history of the series.
"It's a reality of any form of motor sports," he said. "Anytime a racer loses his life this way, it's tough."
He described Lenz as being a "heckuva racer, very accomplished. He was a great kid, very fast, very talented."
praised the IMS safety crew for its quick response and said he didn't
believe the young riders in the USGPRU series were in over their heads.
Racing on a MotoGP weekend, he said, is the realization of a dream.
"Almost all of them want to be the next MotoGP champion," he said.
father, Michael, was at the race. The family issued a statement that
read: "On behalf of the Lenz family, we would like to thank Peter's
friends and supporters for all their help throughout the years. We are
deeply saddened by this tragic loss but know that Peter is racing even
faster in the sky. Our thoughts and prayers are now with the other racer
and his family, who were also involved in this tragedy."
was an up-and-coming star in a series that showcases young talent. He
got his first motorcycle at age 5 and began racing it shortly
thereafter. At 11, he became the youngest licensed expert racer in
American Federation of Motorcyclists history as well as the youngest to
win an AFM race.
He missed most of the 2009 season
recovering from injuries sustained when he crashed into a tire wall at
Portland (Ore.) International Raceway. He required several surgeries to
repair a severed radial nerve and several broken bones: tibia, femur,
fibula just above the boot line and humerus just above the elbow.
He returned this season and notched four wins in his first 12 races. He led the USGPRA points standings.
is the first fatality at the Speedway since Oct. 22, 2003, when IndyCar
Series driver Tony Renna was killed in a crash during testing.