NOBLE, Okla.-Hundreds gather at Thunder Valley Raceway to show off their speed, but now they are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Marcia Cook said, “We are all mourning the fact that he is gone.”
Jerry Vanpool had a true passion for motor sports and loved being on the track.
Vanpool competed in his last race on Friday night.
Pictures were taken just before the race, capturing Jerry inside his bright yellow racer.
Moments later, that racer crashed with Jerry inside.
Chris Riggs said, “It looks like he got to the 1,000 foot mark of the track and just lost control and the car started rolling. I think he flipped maybe four or five times; just a very freak, tragic accident.”
Mike Griggs says he has been racing at Thunder Valley for 20 years and, like all the drivers, he knew and respected Jerry.
Griggs said, “It’s a shame it happened. That’s the risk you take when you come out here to enjoy what you want to do. He was a nice guy.”
While Jerry loved the track, he also knew the constant danger in the races and took every safety precaution.
Riggs said, “He had a helmet and all the safety equipment. This was a guy who obviously knows what he’s doing and is out there a lot and he had a well-built car.”
Many say he died doing what he loved but his death is still hard to accept.
Crook said, “We’re pretty devastated and again, just cannot send out our sympathies enough for their family. I know whatever we feel, they feel a million times over.”
Owners say they have never had a fatal crash in the two decades the track has been open and EMSA medics are always on standby at every race.