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CART: Penske Driver Gonzalo Rodriguez Killed in Practice Crash at Lagun Seca

11 September 1999

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel
MONTEREY, CA: Gonzalo Rodriguez, a rookie driver in the CART FedEx Championship Series, was killed durng practice for the Shell 300 at Laguna Seca Raceway Saturday morning. Rodriguez was 27 years old.

Rodriguez died of massive head and neck injuries after the car he was driving crashed into a concrete barrier at more than 140 miles per hour. He was pronounced dead at 10:10 PDT at the Community Hospitial in Monerey. Rodriguez was driving a car owned by Roger Penske.

This is the first driver fatality in the CART FedEx Championship Series since rookie Jeff Krosnoff was killed during a race in Toronto in 1996. A corner worker also died in that 1996 crash.

The crashed took place entering the corkscrew on the world famous track. The brakes locked on the car Rodriguez was driving. He lost control and went through a gravel trap. He did not lose speed before hitting the barrier. Rodriguez flipped approximately 30 feet before landing upside-down in the grass.

There was no report from Team Penske or Mercedez pertaining to the cause of the accident. Qualifying for the remainder of the day was cancelled.

Rodriguez, from Uruguay, began racing at the age of 13. He raced go-karts, Formula 3, and Formula Fords before entering the CART circuit part-time for Penske Racing.

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