Brooklyn, New York’s Evelyn Cruz, the widow of drag racer Jose Cruz, is suing the popular Atco Raceway in Atco, New Jersey. On September 15, 2010, the 51 year-old Cruz made sizable contact with the tracks retaining wall and his race car ignited into flames.
According to a lawsuit recently filed in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, Cruz’s widow alleges that while the raceway kept an ambulance on site that was meant to also act as a fire truck, the rescue vehicle failed to start when Cruz’s vehicle caught fire.
In its place, Cruz’s son along with the track’s owner and his family ran down the track and extinguished the flames, according to the lawsuit. By that time, Cruz had already suffered second- and third-degree burns. A short time later he lost both his legs. Cruz succumbed to his injuries the next year and died on July 11, 2011.
The suit, which also names the National Hot Rod Association, claims the track and the sanctioning body failed to provide a “reasonably safe racing environment” for competitors.
Atco Raceway owner Joe Sway Sr. said the track’s ambulance was functional and responded, and added that the driver was already out of the car by the time the first responder arrived.
The lawsuit is seeking $50 million in damages, citing pain, suffering and economic losses.
Atco Raceway hosts about 250 events every year and is known as one of the busiest tracks in the country. Anyone can race as long as they have a valid driver’s license, street-legal vehicle, a helmet and seat belt.