An 8-year-old drag racer was making a test run at Perth Motorplex in Western Australia on Saturday when she failed to stop and hit a cement barrier at the end of the run, according to the state government, police and the drag-racing association she was competing with. She later died from her injuries.
TIME reports that Anita Board, who was preparing to get her license for junior drag racing on Saturday, was taken to a local hospital for her injuries after the wreck. Board’s family said she had a “bright, bubbly personality” along with an “infectious” smile, according to TIME. The Junior Dragster class sanctioned by the Australian National Drag Racing Association allows competitors ages 8 to 16, meaning Board would have gotten her license at the youngest possible age for the association.
The organizations investigating the crash have not said what might have caused it, with Western Australia police giving no further detail than “she failed to stop and struck a cement barrier.” The Washington Post shared unconfirmed reports on the crash from media outlets, one of which said it is believed Board “missed an exit” while “performing 200 meter solo sprints.” Another said she “appeared to lose control” near the exit before hitting the barrier.
On Monday, the Government of Western Australia announced it would suspend junior drag-racing competition at Perth Motorplex, which the government said is the only facility in Western Australia where drag racing is held, until a police investigation on Board’s crash is done. The government “will wait until the details of the accident are clear” before taking action, the announcement said.
Jalopnik has reached out to the Australian National Drag Racing Association and the Government of Western Australia to ask if they have discovered what caused the crash, as well as if there are findings from the police investigation of it, and we will update if we hear back.
A Facebook post that appears to be from Board’s father, Ian Board, said to “hug your littles tight.”
“Remind them that you love them,” Ian Board said. “We will need the love and support in the days weeks months ahead. We know the racing family are the best bunch ever. It’s the reason why our girls fell in love with the sport ... the wonderful people not just the driving.”
TIME reports that Anita Board’s father also said he doesn’t think any “major change” is needed to the sport, saying that accidents like this are rare. He said that sadly, “this one in a million event happened to us, to our little girl.”
Update Nov. 15 at 10:27 a.m. A spokesperson for the Australian National Drag Racing Association is “currently unable to provide any comment or speculation as to how the incident occurred at this time,” and that no findings have been released by any party yet. The association is waiting for the conclusion of the police investigation.
Jalopnik is waiting to hear official comment from the government.