At least 12 fans were injured when a stock car crashed and broke apart into the grandstands during a Nascar race at Daytona International Speedway.
Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron said six people with serious injuries were taken by ambulance to Halifax Health Medical Centre in Daytona Beach.
''Those six met the condition of trauma patients,'' Byron said. Two others were taken to hospitals with ''not serious injuries.''
The accident occurred on the last lap of Nascar's second-tier race when rookie Kyle Larson's car sailing into the fence around the track, and large chunks of his car landed in the grandstands. The car itself had its entire front end sheared off, with a piece of burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.
"There were plenty of emergency workers ready to go and they all jumped in on it pretty quickly," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "Right now, it's just a function of determining what damage is done. They're moving folks, as we've seen, to care centres and take some folks over to Halifax Medical."
The accident spread into the upper deck and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. There were five stretchers that appeared to be carrying fans out. A forklift was used to pluck Larson's engine out of the fence, and there appeared to be a tire in the stands.
"It's a violent wreck. Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it's truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.
It was a chaotic finish to a race that was stopped for nearly 20 minutes five laps from the finish by a 13-car accident that sent driver Michael Annett to a local hospital for further evaluation. Nascar said Annett was awake and alert.
The race resumed with three laps to go, and the final accident occurred when leader Regan Smith tried to block Brad Keselowski to win.
"I don't know how you can play it any different other than concede second place, and I wasn't willing to do that," Smith said. "It didn't work out."
As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the stands. When Larson's car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end. The 20-year-old, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood apparently stunned, hands on his hips, several feet away from his car, before finally making the mandatory trip to the care centre.
He later said his first thought was with the fans.
"I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right," Larson said.
Keselowski said his first thoughts were with the fans. As for the accident, he agreed he tried to make a winning move and Smith tried to block.
"He felt like that's what he had to do, and that's his right. The chaos comes with it," Keselowski said.
Keselowski said the incident could cast a pall on tomorrow's season-opening Daytona 500.
"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it's hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully we'll know soon and hopefully everyone's OK. And if that's the case, we'll start focusing on Sunday."
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