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Motorcyclist Dies at California Speedway

April 06, 2002|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Motorcyclist Ricky Lundgren of La Mesa was killed Friday after he crashed midway through a late afternoon qualifying session for this weekend's Yamaha Superbike Challenge at California Speedway in Fontana.

Lundgren, 40, was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. The flight takes less than eight minutes. He arrived at the hospital at 6:05 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m.

According to Dr. Jeff Grange, medical director of the Speedway, Lundgren suffered blunt trauma to the head and chest.

Lundgren is the second fatality at the speedway. Canadian driver Greg Moore died in 1999 after his car smashed cockpit-first into a retaining wall during the Marlboro 500 CART race. The speedway opened in 1997.

Lundgren's accident occurred during qualifying for this afternoon's scheduled 17-lap Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Race, about 3 p.m.

This is one of five American Motorcyclist Assn. classes racing during the weekend on the new infield road course. The course has 21 turns over 2.3 miles.

There were 36 riders attempting to qualify during the session, with their best lap determining their starting position. Lundgren was on his fourth lap of the session when he crashed. His best lap speed was on Lap 3, when he averaged 83.152 mph, the 31st best time overall.

The motorcycles are capable of speeds up to 160 mph on the front straightaway of the speedway's two-mile oval, but Lundgren was not going nearly that fast after he had pulled off the oval and begun negotiating its series of turns.

He had gone through a sharp left-right combination in Turns 3 and 4, and was accelerating out of one of the slowest areas on the track. Although details were sketchy, Lundgren, riding a 750cc Suzuki, apparently made contact with Jeff Tigert, also on a Suzuki. Tigert was unhurt.

Lundgren's family was not in attendance but had been notified, track officials said.

Final qualifying Friday didn't begin until 5:30 because moisture on the track had delayed earlier qualifying by 90 minutes. But track officials said darkness was not a factor in Lundgren's crash.

"From a safety standpoint, we would have stopped qualifying if we thought [darkness] was an issue," track spokesman Dennis Bickmeier said. "We're still collecting information at this point. I'm at a loss for words."

Said Bill Miller, president of the track: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lundgren family and our sincerest condolences go out to the entire racing community.

"We will observe a moment of silence during the invocation prior to [today's] superbike race."

Lundgren was sponsored by Yahoo Sports, MotoworldRacing.com and Advanced Motorsports.

Anthony Gobert was first in qualifying Friday at Fontana at 97.124 mph; second-round qualifying is scheduled for this morning.

Curtis Roberts, son of former world champion Kenny Roberts, suffered knee and ankle injuries and was flown to Loma Linda University Hospital for X-rays.

*

Times staff writer Joel Hood contributed to this report.

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