A wreck during Icebreaker weekend at Thompson International Speedway (CT) claimed the life of Shane Hammond.
Hammond, 27, was involved in a wreck on lap three of the NEMA Midget feature race. After contact with the right side tail of the #22 car of Chris Leonard, Hammond's #4x Midget was launched over the outside retaining wall and into a billboard. There was a brief methanol fire before rescue crews quickly extinguished that and worked to extricate Hammond from the car. He was then taken by ambulance to Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Connecticut where he died shortly after his arrival.
Leonard's car continued through turn three upright, but a flat right rear tire caused him
to flip over and come to a rest on the apron of turn four. Leonard was not injured.
The NEMA race was cancelled at lap three after the incident. Later in the day, racing
resumed at Thompson with the running of the track's weekly Pro Stock division and the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.
Connecticut State Police were on the scene and have an open and active investigation
into the accident.
Hammond was from Halifax, Massachusetts and normally drove the #37g entry in
NEMA competition. He reportedly had a rocker arm failure in his car preparing for the
Thompson race and entered the race in the #4x car owned by Mike Jarret, as a
teammate to Nokie Fornoro.
It was not Hammond's first time driving for the team. In 2007, he drove the #4 car to a
ninth-place finish at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) while serving as a substitute
driver for Fornoro, who was racing an ISMA Supermodified at Sundusky Speedway (OH)
on the same weekend. Hammond made his NEMA debut in 2003 after graduating from
kart racing. He finished ninth in the 2007 NEMA standings, seventh in 2006, fifth in 2005
and ninth in 2004.
Hammond had a repuation in the NEMA community as being a smooth driver and was
awarded the Most Improved Driver in the series after the 2006 season. He was also a
very popular driver in the NEMA pit area.
“Everyone at the Thompson Speedway is saddened by this tragic loss,” said track owner,
Donald Hoenig. “Words can not express how we at Thompson and the entire racing
community feel at this time. We extend our deepest sympathies to Shane's family,
friends and to his many fans. Shane Hammond was a very talented young driver who had
impressed many with his natural ability.”
It was the first NEMA fatality since Ed Clothier perished in a wreck at the now-closed Westboro Speedway on June 19, 1965.
Speed51.com offers our condolences to Hammond's family and friends.