Tributes are pouring in for drag racer Sam Fenech after the Aussie dad-of-three was killed in an “enormous” high-speed crash on Saturday.
The 55-year-old suffered fatal injuries after his vehicle left the track at Willowbank Raceway in Ipswich, Queensland, just before 7pm and crashed into a camera tower.
"It is with great sadness that Top Fuel Racing Australia announces that Sam Fenech, driver of the Fabietti Racing Doorslammer, has succumbed to injuries suffered in a racing accident at Willowbank Raceway and passed away this evening," said a statement on Willowbank Raceway's Facebook page.
"We send our love and support to the Fenech family and the whole team at Fabietti Racing." The accident occurred during Willowbank's New Year Nitro drag racing event.
Graphic footage of the crash shows fans watch in horror as Mr Fenech’s car suddenly flies into the air and crosses the track before flipping and slamming into the camera stand. The mangled vehicle is then seen rolling on the grass as smoke billows into the air and emergency services rush to the scene.
At the time, Top Fuel host Wade Aunger described the crash as “enormous” and announced that Mr Fenech was receiving medical treatment, 7News reports. He is reportedly survived by his wife and three children.
Queensland Police said the camera operator was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Queensland Ambulance Service said the patient was in a stable condition. Police's forensic crash unit is working with Workplace Health and Safety to investigate.
Fans and fellow racers pay tribute to Sam Fenech
Mr Fenech’s death has left the Australian racing community “devastated”, fans said on Twitter.
The Australian National Drag Racing Association said it is “deeply saddened by this tragic news”. “Sam was a great man, racer and friend, may he Rest In Peace. Please join us in sending our deepest condolences to his team and loved ones at this terrible time.”
Fellow race car driver Todd Hazelwood, who attended the event, said he was “absolutely lost for words” after the accident.
“To witness this tragedy at Willowbank Raceway tonight is absolutely heartbreaking. My heart goes out to Sam’s family, pitcrew, friends and supporters. Also wishing the cameraman a fast recovery too,” he tweeted.
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