Teen Racer Killed In Motorcycle Wreck
During the warm-up lap for Sunday's first youth circuit race in Indianapolis, Peter Lenz of Vancouver, Washington fell off his bike and was run over by Xavier Zayat of Flushing, N.Y., who was not injured. Paramedics performed CPR at the scene, then transported Lenz to the hospital, where he died several hours later.
The youth circuit allows teens to drive vehicles that can go in excess of 120 mph. The 81-lb., 4' 11" Lenz died of blunt force trauma, the Marion County Coroner's Office said. He is the youngest driver ever killed at the 101-year-old Motor Speedway. It is the first death there since IndyCar driver Tony Renna was killed in October 2003 during testing.
Lenz was known on the circuit as one of America's youngest rising stars. He earned his "expert" license from the American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) at age 11, and was the youngest driver to ever win an AFM race in March 2009. While competing in the U.S. Grand Prix Racers Union series, Lenz had four wins, five podium finishes and led the MD250H Classification in points.
The baby-faced Lenz, however, described his profession as "kid."
His father was at the track Sunday watching his boy drive bike No. 45 when the collision occurred. Lenz's Facebook page later carried a message signed "Dad" that read, "He passed away doing what he loved and had his go fast face on as he pulled onto the track. The world lost one of it's brightest lights today. God bless Peter and the other rider involved. 45 is on another rode we can only hope to reach. Miss you kiddo."
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss," the Lenz family said in a statement, "but know that Peter is racing even faster in the sky. Our thoughts and prayers are now with the other racer and his family, who were also involved in this tragedy."
Racing conditions weren't ideal at the Speedway this weekend. The bumpy, 2.621-mile course became slick due to hot, dry weather. Even reigning world champion Valentino Rossi fell four times. The Moto2 race Sunday was shortened after four drivers were taken out in a big wreck on the first lap.
After a short delay to clear the track after Lenz's accident, the race was restarted. One official said that had they known the extent of Lenz's injuries, they would have considered canceling the race. Three other races all started on time.
In the past, Lenz had sustained other serious injuries on the track. He suffered four broken bones and a severed radial nerve last season due to a mechanical failure. The USGPRU, a development circuit for motorcycle racers ages 12 to 18, holds races nationwide, with the hope these young racers will one day compete in a world class series.
A debate about how young is too young for drivers will likely be sparked by Lenz's fatal accident. "This is an ugly, terrible part of this sport, " said USGPRU chief steward Stewart Aitken-Cade. "You do what you can to stop it from happening as best you can. That's really all that you can do."
An autopsy is planned for today.
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