Greg Hodnett, a veteran Pennsylvania sprint-car racer, died Thursday night following a crash in a race at BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Pennsylvania.
A news release from the York County (Pa.) coroner said Hodnett reportedly lost control of his vehicle in Turn 1, causing him to hit a wall at a high speed. He died on impact. The cause of the crash is still being investigated and an autopsy will be performed Saturday.
The 49-year-old Hodnett was a five-time champion at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. He was the 1993 World of Outlaws top rookie and won 20 World of Outlaws races in his career.
He was competing in a track-sanctioned race for 410 sprints on the 0.4-mile high-banked dirt track previously known as Susquehanna Speedway.
"To me, Greg represented the true gentleman competitor in the pit area," World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter said in a news release after Hodnett's death.
A statement on Hodnett's website said: "Please keep [wife] Sherry, the entire Hodnett family, and the Heffner racing team in your thoughts and prayers. Greg was a professional in every sense of the word, and will be desperately missed!"
NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson, who occasionally compete in sprint cars and had competed against Hodnett, expressed their sadness on Twitter.
growing up listening to stories of dad and hodnett battling at riverside speedway and then getting to know him and race with him, its a very sad night for the racing community. thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and fans!!— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (@StenhouseJr) September 21, 2018
Thoughts and prayers go out to Greg Hodnett, his family and friends. I've always felt Greg was one of the best to ever strap into a sprint car and accomplish the things he has across the country. Feel honored to have had some great battles with him over the last few years! RIP— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 21, 2018
Neither Stenhouse nor Larson were in the field for Thursday night's race as they're racing in Richmond, Virginia, this weekend.
"Greg was one of the greats in sprint-car racing," said Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell, who has competed against Hodnett. "He's been around a long time and I got to race against him for several years all across the country.
"Probably my fondest memory of him was when we were out running a Winter Heat out in Yuma, Arizona a couple years ago [when] me and Greg had to do some media stuff together and he was just an awesome guy and obviously a fantastic racer."
Justin Allgaier, who has a diverse racing background, said once there is a structure of a car, it is difficult to make a significant change unless it is mandated. The sprint-car industry has been rocked by the deaths of Hodnett, Jason Johnson and Bryan Clauson, among others, in the last couple of years.
"It seems like a time we're in a time where we're going faster, we're doing things more efficiently or better, the tracks obviously are doing what they can to survive and stay open and unfortunately it is just causing a really weird time," Allgaier said.
"We've kind of hit the max as far as we can go in speed and sustainability of these cars and the race tracks obviously are going to have to do some things but it's on everybody."