Sacto 9-1-1
March 17, 2013
Victims identified in fatal Marysville race track crash

The two victims struck and killed by a race car at Marysville Speedway on Saturday evening have been identified as Dale Richard Wondergem Jr., 68, of Grass Valley, and Marcus Joseph Johnson, 14, of Santa Rosa. authorities said.

Both were standing near each other in the pit area of the racetrack when a car doing warmup laps careened off the track and hit them about 6 p.m., said Yuba County sheriff's deputies.

The driver of the car, Chase Domonic Johnson, 17, of Penngrove, was not injured. The younger victim was the driver's cousin and not an official member of the pit crew. His admittance to the pit area is being investigated, Yuba County sheriff's officials said.

Witnesses said there were about six or seven winged sprint cars completing what's known as "hot laps," or practice laps before the beginning of a race. The drivers were preparing for the first race of this year's California Sprint Car Civil War Series.

Johnson's sprint car zoomed off the track and over a retaining wall, sliding about 100 feet along a barrier into the pit, striking the two bystanders before tipping on its side and screeching to a stop.

Wondergem was pronounced dead at the scene, while Marcus Johnson was transported by ambulance to Rideout Hospital in Marysville and died a short time later, sheriff's officials said.

"Both Johnson and Wondergem were connected to race teams and had a legitimate reason to be in the pit area," said Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read in a written statement released Sunday afternoon. He said no patrons were ever in danger from the car.

Wondergem was described by race officials as owning several race cars, but did not own the car involved in the accident.

Read said it's unclear if the two victims knew each other, but were standing near each other when the car slammed into them.

"It was reported that Marcus was not an official member of Chase Johnson's pit crew, (and) his presence in the pit area is still being investigated," he said.

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