Rick Hendrick, owner of NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports and the 164′ Trinity motor yacht WHEELS, escaped with only a broken rib and broken clavicle (collarbone) when his small plane lost its brakes and crash landed at Key West International Airport late Monday. Hendrick’s wife, Linda, suffered minor cuts and bruises.
The plane is registered to Jimmie Johnson Racing Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., and co-owned by Hendrick Motorsports and Johnson, the five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
The Hendricks were the only two passengers on the Gulfstream 150 jet. Co-pilots, James Klepper and Jay Luckwaldt, also escaped without serious injuries in the Monday night crash. All four were taken to Lower Keys Medical Center shortly after the 7:45 p.m. (19:45) incident, where they were evaluated, treated, and released. All flew home to North Carolina on Tuesday morning.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Klepper announced he had “no brakes,” and when he attempted to brake, he also had no pressure. The jet skidded off the 4,800-foot runway and came to rest about three feet from an airport perimeter fence.
Hendrick, the patriarch of one of NASCAR’s most successful race teams, is also well known in the megayacht community. His Trinity yacht charter vessel, motor yacht WHEELS (whose tenders are appropriately given monikers such as “Hot Wheels” and “Reel Wheels”) is available for hire in the Florida Keys and throughout the Bahamas. The 164 foot (50 meter) yacht offers accommodation for up to ten guests in six suites comprising one owner cabin, two VIP cabins, two double cabins, and one twin cabin.
Recently, the yacht was in the boating news when Hendricks added a 24-meter (80′) superyacht sportfish tender to the megayacht’s already impressive inventory of watertoys.
After Monday’s crash, the runway was closed for about an hour but reopened when authorities determined the wreckage did not impact the landing area. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
“It was a real big scare, very frightening to hear,” Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. told reporters in Las Vegas while attending an automotive trade show. “I’m very glad that he and everybody appears to be okay.”
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