Rider dies after crash during warm-ups - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Rider, 13, dies after crash during warm-ups

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Peter Lenz (wall photo from Facebook page) Peter Lenz (wall photo from Facebook page)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway - A 13-year-old motorcycle rider from Vancouver, Washington, died after crashing during a warmup lap for a 250cc race at Indianapolis on Sunday.

After falling after coming out of turn 4, 13-year-old Peter Lenz laid his bike down and began getting up when he appeared to be run over by Xavier Zayat of Flushing, N.Y. Zayat was not injured.

Medical workers placed Lenz in a neck brace, put him on a stretcher and appeared to be doing chest compressions. U.S. Grand Prix Racers Union officials said Lenz had been transported to Methodist Hospital. He later died from his injuries.

"He was one of my really good friends," a friend and fellow racer said.  "I've known him for the last few years, and he was in my motor home all weekend chit-chatting about the track."

Just 13-years-old, Lenz already had an impressive professional resume with nine national championships, countless awards and more than 100 wins. He came to Indianapolis to win the race, but mechanical issues slowed him down and the crash stopped everything.

"He crashed right in front of us, and he stopped and was waving his hands to let everyone know that he was sitting there," crash witness Chance Wittmer said. "Most of the guys were able to get around the outside of him. It looked like he was starting to stand up, but he wasn't walking around. To me, it looked like the guy who ran into him got forced un there and didn't really have a choice of where to go."

Witness Raymond Adams said, "I just saw a bike flying up in the air, and he was laying on the ground. He wasn't moving at all. They tried to pump him, you could tell they were trying to give him CPR."

Since the series was started nine years ago, Lenz is the first rider to die in one of the races.

Statement from Stewart Aitken-Cade, chief steward, USGPRU:

"USGPRU rider Peter Lenz, age 13 from Vancouver, Wash., suffered traumatic injuries in a crash on the warm-up lap of the USGPRU race Sunday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and succumbed to his injuries. The other rider involved in the incident was not injured."

"USGPRU officials send their deepest sympathies and condolences to the Lenz family."

Lenz's father posted the following message on his son's Facebook page:

"Peter passed away early this morning when he was apparently struck by another rider. He passed doing what he loved and had his go fast face on as he pulled onto the track. The world lost one of its brightest lights today. God Bless Peter and the other rider involved. #45 is on another road we can only hope to reach. Miss you kiddo. - Dad"

Statement from the family of Peter Lenz:

"Peter Lenz passed away this morning from injuries sustained from a racing accident. On behalf of the Lenz family, we would like to thank Peter's friends and supporters for all their help throughout the years. We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss, but know that Peter is racing even faster in the sky. Our thoughts and prayers are now with the other racer and his family, who were also involved in this tragedy.

The crash briefly delayed the start of the 250 race. The 125cc race, scheduled for noon, started on time. The MotoGP race is set to start at 3:00 pm.

It wasn't the first crash this weekend.

Several riders took nasty spills in the Moto2 qualifications Saturday. Fonsi Nieto tumbled on the track and Yusuke Teshima went flying out of the final turn and landed hard on the front straightaway. Both riders were conscious and taken to the medical center to be checked out.

Some of the top riders complained about track conditions Saturday.

"Seventy percent of this track needs to be resurfaced - not just that; it really needs to be ripped up, smoothed out again and resurfaced. The curves on this joint, we don't need all those draining points in there. You may as well be riding around the streets and I'm sure that except for around here a lot of streets would be a lot smoother than this joint. So it's not much of a race track," said Casey Stoner.

"The conditions of the track are quite difficult for everyone. It's so bumpy, the track, compared to a normal track, epecially to the last track in Bruno. The conditions don't give you the best confidence," said Jorge Lorenzo.

Eyewitness News will have more later tonight at 11 p.m.


(Dave Calabro, Rich Nye and Richard Essex contributed to this story.)

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