26-Year-Old Champion Race Car Driver Killed in Major On-Track Crash


Another young competitor has been taken from us far too soon.

Sprint car racer Justin Owen died this weekend after colliding with the outside wall around the track at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana and flipping several times during a qualifying round just before 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the Indianapolis Star reported. United States Auto Club Racing announced his death shortly after midnight.

He was 26 years old.

Despite his youth, USAC said Owen had been competing in sprint cars for over a decade.

Fellow competitors were quick to express their sorrow and offer condolences to Owens’ family and friends online.

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“Justin Owen, a competitor in the sprint car ranks for more than a decade, succumbed to injuries sustained in a qualifying crash during Saturday night’s USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship event at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway,” USAC said in a statement.

“The remainder of the event was canceled following the incident involving the 26-year-old Harrison, Ohio native after his car made contact with the outside wall and flipped multiple times in turn three.”

Owen had a history of success at the Lawrenceburg Speedway, USAC said. Last season, he won there twice, and eventually captured the title there as well.

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The organization called him the “reigning track champion, explaining that he’d also made feature starts there in 2019 and 2021.

Former racer Kendall Eberhart, who has both raced at Lawrenceburg and had sons race there, told WLWT-TV in Cincinnati that racers have to try to put the dangers inherent in the sport out of their minds.

“As someone who raced and my son raced, you know the reality is there, but you try to put it in the back of your head,” he said. “But every now and then you realize this is the real deal and lives can be taken in a blink of an eye.”

“You got to have nerves of steel. You are out there going close to 100 miles per hour,” Eberhart said. “You got a guy who was a champion leader last year and something like this happens. It’s not something you think that would happen.”

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
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Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics