Thompson Modified Tour Race Takes a Tragic Turn by Mike Twist
John Blewett Passes Away After Wreck, Status of Race is Unclear
Blewett had just restarted the race in the second position. He was battling for the lead in his #66 car with his younger brother Jimmy, who was driving the #12 Modified. The two cars made contact and struck the outside retaining wall in turn one. The cars came to rest in between the first and second turns, with the #79 Modified of Woody Pitkat also collected at that point. Pitkat’s car was not heavily damaged and he drove away.
Speed51.com talked to several drivers who were behind the incident, as well as with several observers who were in the first turn area. It appeared that the contact could have either been the result of hard racing or because of a tire problem on Jimmy Blewett’s car that led to the contact. The two drivers had been racing each other for several laps before the latest caution.
Jimmy Blewett’s car came to rest on top of the #66 and he was able to climb out without assistance. Rescue workers had to extricate John Blewett from his car. John Blewett was
John Blewett, III 1973-2007 (51 Photo)
Thursday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson International Speedway (CT) was marred by a lap 106 wreck that claimed the life of veteran driver John Blewett, III. [click here for more on Blewett]
then taken by ambulance with the original plans to go to the trauma unit of UMASS Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Instead, he was taken to the closer Hubbard Regional Hospital in Webster, Massachusetts where he was pronounced dead due to massive head injuries.
Jimmy Blewett was not injured.
Ironically, it was the second time in the evening that the Blewett Brothers had wrecked together. In the 40-lap Sunoco Modified feature, Jimmy Blewett got into a patch of speedy-dry from an earlier incident and slid up into John Blewett, taking both drivers out of the race.
The Connecticut State Police took control of the area, taking measurements and photographs for their accident investigation. Four police cruisers were in the pit area after the race and troopers examined several cars. They also interviewed several drivers and officials, including NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director Ed Cox.
The Connecticut State Police, along with NASCAR officials, are currently investigating the accident.
As of Friday afternoon, the status of the race has not been determined by NASCAR. A decision may not be made until Monday.
After the ambulance had left the track, NASCAR officials told drivers to return to their cars. During the red flag period, the drivers had parked their cars on the front stretch and gotten out. A small group of veteran Modified drivers got together and decided that they would not continue to race under the circumstances. They led the action to climb back into their cars and leave the racing surface, despite having no permission to do so from NASCAR. The entire field followed suit.
“This was the one time in our lives to stick together and use the balls that we were born with,” said a well-respected veteran driver of the decision to park their racecars.
It should be noted that NASCAR had made no official determination on whether or not the race would continue at that point. It is also not clear whether the Connecticut State Police would have even allowed the race to continue on.
The top running cars at that point in the event then went to the area around the NASCAR trailer, but were not given a technical inspection.
According to team scorers, one lap of caution was scored before the red flag was displayed on lap 107. The unofficial top five at that point was Todd Szegedy, Tony Hirschman, Ron Yuhas, Donny Lia and Eddie Flemke.
Speed51.com will bring you any updated information on the event as it becomes available.
The #66 hauler gets ready to leave the track Thursday night.