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Motorcycle Racer Died After Freak Accident

Motor sports: Lundgren, from La Mesa, was killed Friday, getting hit by an airborne bike from another crash.

April 07, 2002|SHAV GLICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Investigations of Ricky Lundgren's fatal motorcycle accident Friday at California Speedway indicated that his fate was similar to that of a highway driver hit head-on by an oncoming driver who crossed the median.

Only this time the oncoming bike had to catapult over a barrier more than three feet high before smashing into Lundgren.

Lundgren, 40, a La Mesa stockbroker with a wife and twin 2-year-old boys, died of injuries at Loma Linda University Medical Center a little less than a hour after being hit in the freak accident.

"Another rider, Jeffrey Tigert, came through turn 8A and started to enter turn 9, at which point he lost control of his motorcycle, which then slid across the asphalt," explained Ron Barrick, American Motorcyclist Assn. Pro Racing manager. "Based on reports from corner workers, once [Tigert's motorcycle] got into a grass area it started tumbling, which is nothing unusual.

"As it got closer to the barriers that divide turn 9 from the turn 4 area, however, the [355-pound] bike somehow dug itself into the ground and launched itself approximately five to six feet in the air. The motorcycle then hit Lundgren's Suzuki as he was exiting turn 4."

Tigert, a Suzuki rider from San Leandro, fell off his bike before it got airborne and was treated and released from the speedway care center with scrapes and shoulder pain.

The incident occurred during the second qualifying session for 750 Superstock motorcycles, part of the three-day AMA Yamaha Challenge, which will conclude today on the 2.3-mile, 21-turn course inside the California Speedway oval.

Reacting to the situation, track officials Saturday increased the height of the barrier three times what it was Friday.

AMA officials estimated that the distance from where Tigert first lost control to where he reached the edge of the asphalt track was 60 to 70 feet. From the grass area to the barriers is about 100 feet.

"I would estimate that the bike was six to eight feet from the barrier when it had its last lurch and went into the air," said Barrick. "From the barrier to where Ricky was struck was about 15 to 18 feet."

Dr. Jeff Grange, speedway medical director, said that safety crews were at Lundgren's side within seconds of the accident.

"Fire truck personnel in turn 4 actually witnessed the accident and immediately were initiating care of the rider," Dr. Grange said. "Two ambulances were dispatched, but by the time they got there, seconds after the crash, he wasn't breathing on his own. They were able to secure an airway for him to breathe, and they started an IV.

"He was taken straight to the helicopter for the trip to Loma Linda. He still had a pulse, but on the way it lost his pulse."

Lundgren was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m., 45 minutes after the accident.

Superstocks are closer to showroom bikes than the more powerful Superbike and SuperSport classes. One main difference is that they use street tires, instead of the racing slicks used on the higher classes.

Lundgren rode regularly with the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club and was making a move into faster company. Last month, at Daytona International Speedway, he finished sixth, riding a Ducati, in the Pro Thunder main event.

Three other riders were injured during Friday's practice.

Kurtis Roberts, son of former world champion Kenny Roberts, injured his right knee and left ankle. Matt Hartlieb broke his left wrist. Greg Esser had surgery to his left ankle and also suffered a dislocated right shoulder. All were released.

Barrick said that four accidents on the first day of practice and qualifying on a new track is "below average."

*

Anthony Gobert, a factory Yamaha rider from Australia, won a spectacular 100 kilometer Superbike race over Suzuki's Aaron Yates after a delay that nearly caused AMA officials to call off the race, No. 2 in the 16-race season.

On-track activities were delayed seven hours because of wet and cold weather before the first motorcycles took practice laps.

Gobert was fastest qualifier with a lap of 97.126 mph, but although he won from the pole it was far from a wire-to-wire win. Gobert and Yates exchanged the lead several times with daring passes through the tight turns of the new course.

Daytona 200 winner Nicky Hayden finished third, with veteran Doug Chandler fourth.

The second 100-kilometer race of the AMA Yamaha Challenge is scheduled for 3 p.m. today, following three support races that begin at noon.

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