Former NASCAR star James Hylton and his son, James “Tweety” Hylton Jr., had been killed in a freeway accident early Saturday morning whereas returning dwelling from an Automobile Racing Club of America occasion.
Franklin County Deputy Coroner Clayton Bryant confirmed to PEOPLE that the crash occurred on Interstate 85 in Georgia whereas the daddy and son, together with a driver, had been coming back from a Friday race at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway. Their GMC truck and trailer “left the road and made impact with a creek bank in the median,” NASCAR mentioned.
Both Hylton Sr., 83, and Hylton Jr., 61, had been pronounced useless on the scene, Bryant mentioned. The truck’s driver survived the crash and was transported to a hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. The driver was recognized as crew chief Terry Strange. He suffered damaged bones from the wreck.
Speaking with The Roanoke Times, Hylton Sr.’s ex-wife, Evelyn Hylton, mentioned the previous couple’s solely son.
“He was very pure. He didn’t smoke or drink or anything else,” she informed the outlet. “He was a very good person. Everybody loved him.”
She added: “He was a schoolteacher, and James talked him into quitting and going racing with him.”
Evelyn informed The Roanoke Times that she had spoken to her son on the telephone round midnight, when he mentioned they had been hitting the street after consuming at a restaurant in Alabama.
A police officer arrived at her dwelling on Saturday morning to tell her of the accident.
“[The officer] said Terry … told them that he thought James was having a heart attack and he looked over at him and lost control of the truck and went across the median and then across the other lane of traffic and hit an embankment,” Evelyn informed the newspaper. “The truck, towing a big trailer with a race car on it, thousands of pounds, you have to be really careful.”
“Racing competitively in parts of six decades, James Hylton’s dedication, passion and longevity in motorsports is virtually unmatched. Hylton won the rookie of the year at NASCAR’s highest level, the 1972 race at Talladega Superspeedway and regularly contended for championships during the early years of his career,” NASCAR, which additionally owns ARCA, mentioned in a press release. “His racing influence continued into the ARCA series, where he competed as a driver and, most recently, a car owner. We have lost a truly special member of the racing family and a beloved figure among generations of competitors and race fans alike. We extend our deepest condolences to the Hylton family on the tragic loss of James Hylton and his son James Jr.”
Many NASCAR stars and followers took to social media to share their condolences.
“Thoughts and prayers out to Hylton family and friends,” wrote Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Twitter. “James was a legend. He enjoyed his time in stock car racing and saw the sport evolve and grow over the many decades that he was involved.”
Driver Jimmie Johnson mentioned, “I’m thinking of the friends and family of James Hylton. James was a true racer and loved this sport so much. It was an honor to meet him a few times over the years, he will be missed.”