Rick Hendrick, owner of one of the most successful NASCAR teams, Hendrick Motorsports, escaped with only a broken rib and broken clavicle when the brakes of his small plane malfunctioned and the plane crash-landed at the Key West, Fla., airport.
Hendrick and his wife, Linda, who suffered minor cuts and bruises, were the only two passengers on the Gulfstream 150 jet registered to Jimmie Johnson Racing Inc. of Charlotte, N.C. The jet is co-owned by Hendrick Motorsports and Johnson, the five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
The pilot, James Klepper, and co-pilot, Jay Luckwaldt, also escaped without serious injuries in the Monday night crash. The plane skidded completely off the 4,800-foot runway and came to a stop along a 600-foot unpaved safety area that had just been added at the airport in May. Peter Horton, director of the airport, said the pilot and co-pilot radioed to the tower that they had no brakes.
“It was a real big scare, very frightening to hear, Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. told reporters in Las Vegas while attending an automotive specialty-equipment show. I’m very glad that he and everybody appears to be okay.
It was especially haunting due to the accident in 2004 of Hendrick’s team plane, which crashed in heavy fog en route to a race in Martinsville, Va. All 10 aboard died – including Hendrick’s son, brother and two nieces.
The runway was closed for about an hour Monday night but was reopened because the wreckage did not impact the landing area.