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Sunday, August 19

ARCA driver killed in accident news services

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Stock car champion Dean Roper died Sunday from injuries in an ARCA event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, 10 months after his son, Tony, was killed in a NASCAR truck series race in Texas.

Roper, 62, of Fair Grove, Mo., was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, said hospital spokeswoman Roberta Churchill. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

According to WTAX radio in Springfield, Roper missed the entrance to the pits and crashed into a wall head-on. The station reported that three people in the infield sustained minor injuries.

There were no visible injuries from the accident on the 17th lap of the Allen Crowe Memorial 200, but Roper was unconscious when safety teams arrived.

Roper was the USAC Stock driving champion from 1981-83, and was the winningest ARCA series driver on dirt with nine career victories, including three at the Springfield mile. He became the second-oldest driver to record an ARCA victory when he won at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in 1994 at age 55.

The majority of Roper's success came at the wheel of stock cars fielded by Mueller Brothers of Random Lake, Wis. Roper drove his first race in 1960 and was a five-time St. Louis-area short track champion from 1967-73 prior to his national championship racing success.

Roper is survived by his widow, Marilyn, and a brother, Dale. They were at the track Sunday.

The 100-mile race, won by ARCA points leader Frank Kimmel, is named for Crowe, a racer from Springfield who died in 1963.

Tony Roper, 35, died from injuries sustained in the Oct. 13 O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Trying to move through a pack of traffic, he apparently bumped with another truck, veered sharply to the right and slammed head-on into the wall.

His mangled truck burst into flames.

Doctors said Roper had a severe neck injury which prevented blood from flowing to his brain. He died 12 hours later at Parkland Hospital with his family by his side.

His was the third fatality of 2000 in a NASCAR touring series. That circuit was jolted again six months ago, when seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt was killed in the season-opening Daytona 500.

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