The regulars at Houston Motorsports Park are in mourning today for well-known local racer Kenny Michalak, who was killed Thursday night in a drag racing crash at the track, according to news reports.

Houston’s KHOU reports Michalak, 63, was doing private testing around 9 p.m. when, for unknown reasons, he failed to brake at the end of one run down the strip. Clocked at about 120 mph at the finish line, his Mustang instead went flying into the barrels at the end of the track.

The TV station reports on-site paramedics rushed to Michalak’s side, but it is believed that he died instantly. He was alone in the car and no one else was on the track.

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Friends, like park owner and renowned drag racer Graham Baker, told KHOU Michalak was “a great family guy” and a well-liked member of Houston’s local drag racing community. Weekend events at the park have been canceled. Baker said:

“Very, very sad. It’s a racing incident. It’s just one of those things. When you put your helmet on and do up those seat belts, there’s always a risk that something serious can happen.”

Baker’s right. We’re quick to tell would-be street racers to take it to the track instead; it’s a shame that this can still happen to someone who was enjoying their love of speed the right way.

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Photo credit KHOU screencap