Widow of fan killed by lightning sues Pocono Raceway, NASCAR

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Shortly after the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 5, 2012, a lightning strike at the track killed one fan and sent nine more fans to a local hospital.

Nearly two years later, the widow of the late Brian Zimmerman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the track and NASCAR.

According to the Pocono (Penn.) Record, Marion Zimmerman claims that the track knew of dangerous weather but continued the race and did not adequately warn fans of the situation.

The suit was filed last Friday, just before the two-year statute of limitations on the case expired.

“With three young children, and a (wedding) anniversary in August, this is something that has had a significant impact on them,” Mrs. Zimmerman’s attorney, Thomas P. Comerford, said to the Record.

The Record has listed several excerpts of the suit, including the allegation that Pocono and NASCAR “waited for an unreasonable amount of time, after they knew or should have known of the dangerous approaching weather, to stop the race thereby unnecessarily placing all individuals in attendance to the risk of being electrocuted.”

All Pocono tickets feature a contract that states the purchaser releases the track from any liability. However, the Record reports that the suit alleges the contract as being void since the fine print is “inconspicuous” and that Pocono didn’t advise spectators to read the fine print before attending the event.

Mr. Comerford also stated that such a waiver was only applicable in situations “when there’s an inherent risk associated with the race itself, for example a car crash with debris in the stands.”

In addition to the Zimmerman suit, a second lawsuit was filed against Pocono and NASCAR last month by Brian Zimmerman’s friend, Jason Pencek, and his wife. Pencek was among those injured in the lightning strike.

Track officials would not comment on the lawsuits.

Due to the storm on Aug. 5, 2012, NASCAR called the Pennsylvania 400 after 98 of a scheduled 160 laps. Jeff Gordon was declared the winner.

A NASCAR.com article from Aug. 7, 2012 relayed word from a track spokesman who said there were at least two lightning strikes on Pocono Raceway property – one in a parking lot behind the grandstand and another near a gate area. The spokesman also said that the track broadcasted warnings for fans to find immediate shelter.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.