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Tragic News at Thunderhill

Tony G

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Two Bay Area drivers were killed Friday afternoon when their cars collided during a practice session at Thunderhill Raceway Park, west of Willows.


Track officials said Robert Smeltzer of Petaluma and Charles Aliberti of Clayton were killed in the accident on turn No. 8 of the 15-turn, three-mile road course.

Smeltzer went straight at turn 14 which took him across the track at turn 8 when he was broad sided by Aliberti after trying to avoid a collision at turn 14.


Aliberti, driving a Mazda RX7, struck the side of Smeltzer's Sports Car Club of America GTA sedan.


Rescue crews were on the scene immediately with Side Trax Medical attending the two injured drivers. Enloe Medical Center's FlightCare helicopter also responded to the site from Chico, but the drivers' injuries were fatal.


A brief fire in the Aliberti car was extinguished as safety crews worked inside.


The incident was the third on-track accident resulting in a fatality at the 11-year old road course facility.


Track chief executive officer David Vodden said the other two fatal crashes involved a motorcycle and a go cart.


Neither driver was wearing a head protection device, and this was on a practice day, the Friday before a race weekend.


The Camaro Mustang Challenge offers its condolences to all the families involved.



Tony Guaglione

CMC Chief Director

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Tony meant to say that neither driver was wearing a head and neck restraint device (Hans, G-Force, D-Cell, Hutchens, Isaac...). Both were wearing helmets and other required safety gear.

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