Drag Racer Dies In Crash At Lebanon Valley Speedway

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Drag Racer Dies In Crash At Lebanon Valley Speedway
Drag Racer Dies In Crash At Lebanon Valley Speedway

It’s always a sad day in the world of motorsports when someone doesn’t walk away from a crash. It’s even worse when a person is carted off to the morgue instead of the hospital. Yet that’s what happened at Lebanon Valley Speedway during a NHRA Division 1 Lucas Oil Regional Series event in New York on Sunday, July 7 after 57-year-old William E. Janke crashed during a drag race.

Watch mini trucks powered by Hayabusa engines drag race each other.

Why exactly Janke lost control of his 2013 Chevy Camaro, which veered into a barrier at high speed, isn’t clear. However, Howard Commander, owner of Lebanon Valley Speedway, says the muscle car lost the groove on the drag strip, he told The Berkshire Eagle, causing his tires to lose grip so the drag racer listed to the side.


The racecar driver was ejected in the impact with the barrier and pronounced dead at the scene when emergency medical responders arrived at the crash.

Commander said Jenke’s car was going 190 mph at the time of impact. The force was enough to bend the Camaro’s roll cage.

All races were suspended for the rest of the day after the fatal crash.

Janke was from Newburgh, New York and was a veteran racer. He competed in the Professsional Drag Racers Association and NHRA for over ten years. At the time of the fatal accident, he was competing in the Top Sportsman division, which was supposed to wrap up on June 7.

He was doing well before the crash, with Jenke netting the second fastest time in qualifications the day before with an elapsed time of 6.515 seconds and trap speed of 217.25 mph. There was a chance he might come out on top for his division. Instead, he bought the farm.

Racing, whether it’s drag racing, oval tracks, rallycross, or whatever else is inherently dangerous. Anyone who gets behind the wheel should have a clear understanding of the risks. Sadly, any pass could be your last.

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