Retired race car driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 44, his wife, infant daughter, a dog, and the two pilots emerged without serious injuries after their Cessna Citation Latitude overran Runway 24 yesterday at Elizabethton Municipal Airport, Bristol, Tennessee. The twinjet then went through a fence, caught fire, and came to rest near a road some 500 feet past the paved end of the runway. It was destroyed in the blaze.
The aircraft was registered to JRM Air based in Mooresville, North Carolina, near Earnhardt’s home and is a reference to his NASCAR team, JR Motorsports, also based in Mooresville. At the time of the crash, about 3:40 p.m. local, the twinjet was arriving on a Part 91 flight from Statesville Municipal Airport, North Carolina. The aircraft’s registration, N8JR, is a reference to the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro racecar that Earnhardt drove.
At press time, two NTSB investigators were still at the crash site. An FAA preliminary report says the aircraft “experienced a hard landing, bounced, departed the runway, and caught fire.” Precise weather conditions at the time of the accident were not immediately available.
Earnhardt Jr. and his family were in the area near Bristol Motor Speedway where he was expected to join the broadcast team to cover the race this weekend. “We're incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today's accident," NBC Sports said in a statement. "After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we're all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.”