Wednesday, March 21, 2018

John Nemechek Dies From Crash Injuries - March 21, 1997

March 12, 1970 – March 21, 1997  
John Nemechek
(Photo credit; Darryl Moran)
Born in Lakeland, Florida, USA.
The younger brother of four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner Joe Nemechek, John followed his brother into racing, running his first race at the age of twelve in an 80 class dirtbike race. After a quick progression to the 250cc class, he moved onto mini-stock cars, where he raced against his brother, and eventually late-model stocks.

When he wasn't racing, Nemechek served as the front-tire changer on Joe's pit crew, and was on Joe's 1992 NASCAR Busch Series Championship winning team. He would begin attempting NASCAR races himself, and ran one Busch Race at IRP in 1994. He finished 30th after his #89 Chevrolet suffered engine failure. The following season, he began racing in the new Craftsman Truck Series, driving at first for Redding Motorsports, and then for his brother's NEMCO Motorsports. In the first year of competition, Nemechek ran 16 races and had two top-ten finishes. He followed that up with two more top-tens in 1996 and a thirteenth place finish in points, running a single truck he built himself titled The War Wagon under his own team, Chek Racing.

On March 16, 1997, Nemechek was running a truck race at Homestead-Miami Speedway when with 25 laps to go, he suddenly lost control of his truck and slammed into the Turn 1 wall driver's-side first, suffering major head injuries. He was extricated and transported to a nearby hospital, where he clung to life over the next five days before finally succumbing on March 21, just nine days after his 27th birthday.

Following the incident, Homestead was reconfigured into a true oval with a six-degree banking to reduce the possibility of the type of crash that killed Nemechek. His brother Joe was able to pay tribute to his brother by winning a Busch Series race that November at the now-reconfigured circuit. He later named his son John Hunter after his late brother.

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