Tragedy Strikes The Brainerd Optimist Dragway

Reported by: Alisha Searl
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Updated: 11/06/2012 11:32 am

The flag at the Brainerd Optimist Dragway flies at half staff for Johnny Walker, 53.

He was a fixture there, even though he never got behind the wheel of a race car.

Brenda Walker, Johnny's Sister, says, "It was an every weekend thing with Johnny. He got so much enjoyment out there. He lived for that."

For almost three decades Walker spent his time on the track, getting the cars ready for big races.

That's what he was doing Saturday, helping Hillary Mason, 22, line her car up on the drag strip.

Major Gary Sisk, with the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office, says, "And apparently the driver left the vehicle in reverse and was either about to do a burn out, but inadvertently had hit the gas and went backwards."

At least 1,200 pounds of steel ran over Walker, killing him, but not instantly.

Major Sisk adds, "I was told it was catergorized as a 470 Car, which is a car that can run a quarter of a mile in under five seconds."

Walker's family tells us they knew Mason and her car, since she had been driving at the dragway for at least six years, but they say that car driven on Saturday was a bit new to her.

Jason Scroggs, a resident, says, "Disappointed in driver error, disappointed that it happened to a nice guy."

Scroggs, like others in the racing community, hope this will serve as a reminder to pay more attention.

Walker's family on the other hand has a different message.

They want Mason and others to keep following their dreams, despite setbacks.

Brenda Walker adds, "There are no harsh feelings toward this young lady. We really feel for her."

Family members just have one request for Mason.

They want her to get back in that car and win a race for Johnny.

Megan Brooks, Walker's niece, says, "He would want her to keep going and if she did win, then she could feel the accomplishment and smiling at her and thinking that he's saying good job."

While this case is still being investigated, deputies do not foresee any criminal charges right now.

However, the district attorney has the final say.

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