A race fan was killed and nine others were injured during an intense thunderstorm that halted the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Track president Brandon Igdalsky made the announcement Sunday night. He said the spectator had been injured by a lightning strike shortly after NASCAR officials called an end to the race Sunday afternoon. The event was scheduled to run 160 laps, but ended after 106. The start of the race had been held up by almost two hours due to inclement weather.
“We are deeply saddened that a fan has died and others were injured by lightning strikes following today’s race at Pocono,” Igdalsky said. “Our thoughts are with them as well as all those affected by this unfortunate accident.”
Track officials said there were a couple of lightning strikes on track property – one in the parking lot behind the grandstand and another near a gate – and announcements were made for people in the area to take cover.
Besides the fatality, nine other spectators at the event were transported to area hospitals. At least one other victim was reported with critical injuries and taken to a hospital in Allentown.
Race winner Jeff Gordon said the lightning strikes were so prominent that he had noticed them while walking from his race car.
“We were walking down pit road, the umbrellas weren’t doing any good, (and) there was a huge crack of lightning,” Gordon said. “You could tell it was very close.”