Former NASCAR driver Jeff Purvis among injured in I-65 crash

Updated: August 5, 2006, 11:49 PM ET
Associated Press

CULLMAN, Ala. -- Former NASCAR driver Jeff Purvis broke his neck in a crash on I-65 Saturday after the rig carrying his race car crossed the median, struck an oncoming car and burst into flames, officials said.

Purvis, of Clarksville, Tenn., and his crew were bound for Talladega where he was to compete Saturday night in a Dirt Late Model Series race at Talladega Short Track. He also broke ribs and was cut and bruised.

Relatives said the 47-year-old Purvis was airlifted from Cullman Regional Medical Center to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, largely because of previous head injuries sustained in a racing crash four years ago.

Officials say seven people, including Purvis' wife and 15-year-old son, were injured in the crash, three of them seriously. State trooper spokesman Sgt. Tim Sartain told The Birmingham News the injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Six people were riding in the rig, which carried Purvis' family, his crew and his race car. A front tire blew out as the rig passed through Cullman, causing the vehicle to swerve, cross the median and collide with a car driven by 21-year-old Beth Copeland of Cullman.

Purvis enjoyed a long Winston Cup and Busch Series career, running in 50 NASCAR races over nine years. In 2002, he was seriously injured in a crash at Nazareth Speedway, sustaining severe head injuries that kept him from racing for two years.

More recently, he has competed in short-track racing in the Dirt Late Model Series.

"Based on his injuries years ago, he probably shouldn't be doing this (racing) anymore," said Bryan Baggett, vice president of racing. "But he's not your average guy. He's a little tougher than your average guy."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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