Modified car driver killed at Arkansas speedway

Updated: July 18, 2005, 1:29 PM ET
Associated Press

FLIPPIN, Ark. -- A modified auto racer was killed when the driveshaft of his car came through the vehicle and struck him, the county coroner said Monday.

Tim Phillips, 35 of Fayetteville, died Friday night following the crash at the North Central Arkansas Speedway. Marion County Coroner Dan Duren said Phillips' death appeared to be an accident.

Phillips was driving in the preliminary modified feature and was in fifth place at the time of the wreck. Spokeswoman Mary Jane Erwin, who owns the track with family members, said Phillips sustained head injuries in what she called a "freak accident."

"We were ready to cancel ... not have it all," Erwin said of Saturday night's finals. "But I talked with the Phillips family, and they said they wanted the race to go on. So we changed the name of the race to the Tim Phillips Memorial in honor of him and his family."

The fatality was the first for the North Central Arkansas Speedway, which opened in 1989. It was also the first Arkansas racetrack death since 1995 when a spectator was killed after being struck by a tire in the pits at the I-30 Speedway in Little Rock.

Sonny Sayre, a sprint car driver from West Memphis, died last year after an accident at Delta Bowl Speedway near Tunica, Miss.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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