MOUNT VERNON, Ill. – A race car crashed into the stands at a southern Illinois track, killing two spectators and injuring six other people, officials said. The driver also was hurt.
State police were trying to determine what caused the car to shoot off the quarter-mile dirt oval track Saturday night at Mount Vernon Raceway (search). It was the only vehicle on the track at the time. The driver was doing a qualification run.
The car's speed wasn't known, but it flew deep into the stands, said Capt. Conan King of the Jefferson County Fire Protection District (search).
"I believe there's about 25 rows of bleachers," he said. The car "landed probably two rows from the top."
Jefferson County Sheriff Roger D. Mulch said two men suffered major injuries. Three other spectators and the driver, Kevin Beatiee, 38, of Benton, suffered minor injuries.
The dead were identified as Donald Roznowski, 51, and his daughter's boyfriend, Jeff Conner, 18, both of Du Quoin (search).
The track, about 75 miles southeast of St. Louis, features late-model stock car races. Its owners expressed sympathy for the victims in a statement on the raceway's Web site Sunday.
"It is almost impossible to put our feelings into words, other than we are deeply sorry that this tragedy has occurred. It will change the way that we look at and remember racing forever," the statement said.