NASCAR Truck Driver Roper Dies

BySteven Hawkins

F O R T  W O R T H, Texas, Oct. 14, 2000 -- NASCAR truck series driver Tony Roperdied today as the result of injuries from a head-on crash intothe wall during a race Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Roper had a severe neck injury which caused blood flow to hisbrain to stop, said Dr. John LaNoue, a trauma surgeon at ParklandHospital. LaNoue said the injury left Roper without any brainfunction.

Roper was unconscious and unresponsive when he was pulled out ofhis truck Friday night. He had been placed on a ventilator at thehospital. Emergency crews had to cut the roof off the truck to gethim out.

His father, Dean, who was a successful racer in the Midwest, wasat the race and was at the hospital with his son.

Driver’s Fifth Race of Season

The accident occurred as the younger Roper tried to move througha pack of traffic. He apparently bumped with another truck, thenveered sharply to the right and slammed head-on into the wall alongthe frontstretch on the 32nd lap of the O’Reilly 400. The mangledtruck burst into flames and spun out of control.

It was the first fatal wreck at Texas Motor Speedway, whichopened in April 1997.

Roper, 35, of Fair Grove, Mo., was in just his fifth CraftsmanSeries race this season, but 60th of his career. He has never won arace, his best finish a second-place showing in Indianapolis inJuly 1998.

Polesitter Bryan Reffner won the race, passing Andy Houston withsix laps to go for his first victory in 112 career starts. GregBiffle claimed the points title, even though he completed just 81of the 167 laps and finished 25th.

Roper’s death was the third this year in major NASCARcompetition. Busch series driver Adam Petty and Winston Cupcompetitor Kenny Irwin were killed eight weeks apart in crashes atNew Hampshire International Speedway.

The only previous death in the truck series was in 1997, whenJohn Nemechek died after a crash in Homestead, Fla.

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