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Old 08-29-10, 08:59 PM
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13-Year-Old Youngest to Die at Indy

13-Year-Old Youngest to Die at Indy
Published: August 29, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An accomplished 13-year-old motorcycle racer died Sunday after he fell off his bike and was run over by another motorcycle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The racer, Peter Lenz of Vancouver, Wash., was pronounced dead by the Marion County coroner, who said Lenz had sustained “traumatic injuries.” Lenz crashed on a warm-up lap before his race and was struck by 12-year-old Xavier Zayat, who was uninjured.

Medical workers immediately placed Lenz in a neck brace, put him on a stretcher and began chest compressions while taking him to a hospital. The coroner confirmed his death about three hours later. It was the first death of a competitor at the speedway since the IndyCar driver Tony Renna was killed in October 2003.

A posting on Lenz’s Facebook page, signed, “Dad,” read: “Peter passed away early this morning when he was apparently struck by another rider. He passed doing what he loved and had his go fast face on as he pulled onto the track. The world lost one of its brightest lights today.”

It was not clear whether his parents were in Indianapolis, and no home telephone number for the family was listed. Track officials confirmed that Lenz was the youngest racer killed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which opened in 1909 and has been used by numerous series.

“We would like to thank Peter’s friends and supporters for all their help throughout the years,” the family said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the loss but know that Peter is racing even faster in the sky.”

The crash delayed the United States Grand Prix Racers Union event in which Lenz was to ride, but three races sanctioned by the MotoGP Series started on time.

Lenz had ridden six years, winning nine national titles, and appeared to be a rising star in a series that bills itself as a prep for riders 12 to 18.

The fatal accident could spark a debate about how young is too young for racers to be competing on one of the world’s best-known tracks, whether inside a car or riding a motorcycle capable of speeds well over 100 miles per hour.

Speedway officials pointed out that East Coast Region riders also competed at Virginia International Raceway, and the West Coast Region holds races at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah and Portland International Raceway in Oregon.

Hot, dry weather this weekend made Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s bumpy, 2.621-mile course slick and challenging. The reigning world champion Valentino Rossi had fallen four times since practice opened Friday.
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