19-year-old NASCAR driver Clark killed in accident

Updated: May 23, 2006, 7:59 PM ET
Associated Press

MORIARTY, N.M. -- Up-and-coming NASCAR driver Spencer Clark was on his way home to Nevada when he and a crew member died in a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 40 in New Mexico, authorities said.

Clark, 19, and Andrew Phillips, 28, were killed when their truck and trailer were hit by a gust of wind as they passed through the mountains just east of Albuquerque on Sunday night. The vehicle lost control and both men were ejected, state police spokesman Lt. Jimmy Glascock said.

"Spencer was a good kid with a heart of gold that was as fierce of a competitor as anyone on a racetrack," Cary JC Agajanian, whose Motorsports Management International agency represented Clark, said Monday in a statement. "His sheer talent and determination alone were enough to propel him into the NASCAR Busch Series and we expected many great achievements from him in the future."

Clark, who started racing at a young age, had always dreamed of becoming a professional driver. Over the past few years, he had collected a room full of trophies and last March, he made his Busch Series debut.

He finished 35th that day and went on to record three top-five finishes and a pole at Phoenix in January. In 2003, he was named rookie of the year in the Super Late Model division.

"Spencer was a very passionate driver. He was very talented," Debbie Clark, his mother, said from the family's home in Las Vegas, Nev.

Phillips, a former all-Western Athletic Conference offensive lineman for the University of Hawaii, was a member of Clark's Allegiant Air Racing Team.

The two were returning from North Carolina, where Clark had been preparing a car for this weekend's West Series race at the Irwindale Speedway in California.

Clark's mother said her son wasn't wearing a seat belt when the accident happened.

"The accident occurred and he got ejected," she said, trying to hold back tears. "So all I can say is that I know how easy it is to get in and out of your vehicle, but you know it [a seat belt] just saves your life."

In addition to his mother, Clark is survived by his father, T.J. Clark, who drove in the Craftsman Truck Series and in Winston West events; and his sister, Candice.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press