A driver and navigator were killed in a crash during Sunday’s Silver State Classic, an open road race run on a 90 mile stretch of Nevada State Road 318. Driver Richard DeKneef and navigator Merille Hill were killed when their Unlimited Class 1994 Chevrolet Camaro lost a tire, rolled and burst into flames. The deaths are the third and fourth in the event’s 24 year history, and the first fatalities since 1992.
The Silver State Classic has very strict rules about safety equipment and top speed by class. Most classes have a “target speed,” or desired average over the 90 mile course, and a “tech speed,” which cannot be exceeded without penalties, which can include disqualification. In the Unlimited category, there is no target speed assigned and the tech speed is simply listed as 180+ miles per hour. The Nye County Sheriff, who has jurisdiction over the investigation, estimates that the heavily modified Camaro was traveling at approximately 200 miles per hour when the blowout occurred.
Given the Silver State Classic’s outstanding safety record and careful tech inspection, this seems like one of those unavoidable racing tragedies. Those of us who participate in motorsports know full well what happens when things go wrong, so we extend our condolences to the families of Mr. DeKneef and Mr. Hill.