A small jet carrying the owner of NASCAR‘s top team and his wife lost its brakes and crash landed at Key West International Airport on Monday evening, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The Gulfstream 150 aircraft ran off the runway at 7:45 p.m. Rick and Linda Hendrick, a pilot and co-pilot were all taken to Lower Keys Medical Centers. The Hendricks had minor injuries and the pilot and co-pilot were taken in as a precaution, said county airport director Peter Horton.
The plane is registered to Jimmie Johnson Racing II Incorporated in Charlotte, N.C. Johnson is a five-time defending NASCAR champion and drives for Hendrick Motorsports, which Rick Hendrick owns.
Besides Johnson, Hendrick also fields cars for four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. The team recently celebrated its 199th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series.
“It was a real big scare. Very frightening to hear,” Earnhardt told reporters in Las Vegas, where he was attending the annual SEMA show, which showcases automotive specialty-equipment. “I’m very glad that he and everybody appears to be OK.”
In 2004, a plane Hendrick owned crashed en route to a race in Martinsville, Va., killing all 10 onboard. That included Hendrick’s son, Ricky, his brother and twin nieces.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot and co-pilot radioed that the plane had no brakes upon landing in Key West. Horton said the plane ran off the runway, and then 100 feet beyond a 600-foot safety area that was finished in May.
“If we hadn’t done that, it likely would have been a different story,” Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space.
Photographs of the crash show the plane largely intact and with its nose resting on the ground about 20 feet in front of a chain-linked airport boundary fence.
The National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.