Jeff Green, right, next to Victor Franzoni, left, at the 2017 Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Watkins Glen.
Image: Juncos Racing

Jeff Green, an Illinois dealership owner and former Pro Mazda Championship racer, died Saturday in a wreck at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Green turned 61 just a week before, and friends described him as a “true gentleman who would always help anyone out at any time” in Facebook posts after his death.

Green was driving in a Formula 5000 race during the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada’s Vintage Grand Prix when the wreck happened, with the CBC reporting that police said Green’s car passed safety inspection but went off track during the race. He was in a 1972 Lola T300, an open-wheel race car with an open cockpit. Police said he lost control of the car, according to the CBC:

“It’s my understanding that, during the race, he failed to negotiate a turn and struck a tire barrier at a high rate of speed,” Acting Insp. Randy Norton, of Durham police, said on Sunday.

Track safety staff, including a doctor, attended to the man at the scene. He had to be extricated from the race car and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Norton said next of kin have been notified. It was a single vehicle crash and no one else was injured, he added.

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Canadian Tire Motorsport Park released a statement on Sunday, with track president and general manager Myles Brandt saying, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Jeffrey Green. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his family, friends and fellow competitors.”

The track was closed for the rest of the day after the crash, the CBC reports. A newspaper from the town Green lived in, the Peoria, Illinois Journal Star, reports that police are still investigating the crash, as they’re not sure if a mechanical problem with the car or a medical problem with Green might have led to it.

Green owned a Ford and a Chevrolet dealership in Peoria, after having a long history in the dealership business—he started cleaning cars at age 13 in Illinois and later became a technician, according to his bio on one of his dealership’s websites. Green studied automotive marketing and business at Northwood University, and his bio said his family made a business of buying struggling dealerships and turning them around. He was also a driver in the Pro Mazda Championship on the IndyCar ladder, competing for Juncos Racing in 2017.

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Juncos Racing posted on Twitter about Green’s death, saying he was “an incredible man, who had a contagious smile and was an extremely genuine and kind person.”