A helicopter crashed on an airport runway only a few hundred yards from thousands of racing fans attending the Grand Prix of Cleveland (search) on Saturday.

The helicopter went down at almost the same time that several cars were involved in a first lap accident in the race at the Burke Lakefront Airport (search).

Witnesses said the pilot walked away from the crash. The helicopter's back rotator blade was broken off and part of its body was sheered away. It was not immediately known if the pilot was injured.

Dave Geall, a photographer from Toronto (search), was eating lunch when he noticed the helicopter hovering overhead on the hazy, humid afternoon.

"I saw him come in and I wasn't sure if he was showing off or what," Geall said. "Then he swung around twice and it came down on its back, rotator first, before it bounced back up onto its landing gear."

The race has been held on the airport's runways and taxiways since 1982.