Death certificate says drag racer was going 280 mph at time of Salem crash

YOUNGSTOWN — Al Zukauskas, 67, of Chicago, who died July 22 in a drag racing accident at Quaker Motorsports Race Track, 10225 South Range Road in Salem, was traveling about 280 mph at the time of the crash, according to the death certificate filed by the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office.

Zukauskas’ death was ruled an accident from blunt force injuries of the head, neck, torso and extremities. The single-vehicle crash took place during the Night of Fire event when Zukauskas lost control of his vehicle and crashed.

Chief John Calko of the Goshen Police Department called the coroner’s office to report the fatality at 7 p.m. July 22. The weather was sunny and 76 degrees, according to the coroner’s report.

A Goshen police report states that officers were dispatched to the racetrack at 6:50 p.m. Officers spoke to witnesses who said Zukauskas was traveling 286 mph when the vehicle crossed the light beam. The report also noted that there was a “hump” in the east bound lane Zukauskas was using.

Mary Lendzion, media and public relations director at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, posted on the park’s Facebook page after the tragedy that “For years, Al entertained thousands of fans at our annual Cornwell Tools Night Under Fire, among other events,” according to the Salem News.

Lendzion noted, “In addition to being professional, he was passionate about being a jet vehicle pilot, and putting on a show for fans. That, along with his personality, made him beloved here at Summit Motorsports Park.”

A video of the accident taken by a spectator showed the dragster crashed into the track’s side wall, the Salem News story stated.

First responders reported the dragster rolled over and caught fire.



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