Roy Weaver III (lost footage of fatal IPOWER Dash Series accident; 2004)
This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident/disturbing visuals.
On 8th February 2004, during lap 9 of the 2004 IPOWER Dash 150 at the Daytona International Speedway, a crash involving Billy Clevenger and Tony Billings occurred. As the race was run under caution, track marshal Roy Weaver III entered the circuit to assist in the clear-up efforts. However, he did so as Ray Paprota approached, with Paprota unable to avoid a collision with Weaver at around 100 mph. The impact resulted in Weaver being killed instantly. It is known that footage of the fatal accident and its aftermath were captured on a trackside camera.
On lap 9 of the event, a fiery crash between Clevenger and Billings occurred as the pair entered the third turn. Clevenger had spun off, and ended up right into the path of a fast-charging Billings who could not avoid a side-on collision. While neither driver was seriously injured, Billings was unable to escape his vehicle without being cut out of it. He was taken to hospital, where he ultimately recovered.
The seriousness of the accident forced a caution period to enable track marshals to clear debris. During this time period, Paprota finally left the pits after battery issues left him unable to initially compete. Paprota was notably the first paraplegic driver to compete at a national stock car series event. He began driving at over 100 mph in order to catch up with the pack prior to the caution's end.
As the wrecked cars of Clevenger and Billings were being recovered, track marshal Weaver was riding a safety pick-up truck responsible for seeking and removing any debris around the oval. Weaver noticed what appeared to be debris at Turn 2, and requested that the pick-up stop so that he could remove it. However, his pick-up crew failed to inform Race Control that Weaver was removing debris at the turn, with the turn's 31 degree banking also reducing visibility for incoming drivers. Additionally, the pick-up truck was parked up on the grass, when it should have been parked on the road to alert drivers of marshals present on the track.
It is also believed that Weaver assumed all competing vehicles were bunched up to one another. Therefore, neither he nor the approaching Paprota had no indication that a fatal accident was about to commence. When Paprota saw Weaver, he was already travelling at around 100 mph. In a bid to avoid the marshal, Paprota hit the brakes utilising a special lever behind the steering wheel. However, his brakes locked up, causing his Pontiac to fishtail. The rear of the passenger side ultimately struck Weaver, resulting in him being flipped over the vehicle. Weaver was killed instantly from the collision, aged 44. Having worked at Daytona for seven years, he was described as being "a very nice man with a high-octane, infectious personality".
Following the fatal collision, the Pontiac slammed into the outer wall before stopping at the exit of Turn 2. It had suffered severe damage, including to its rear and right sections, although Paprota himself was unharmed. The race continued to be run under yellow flags for a few more laps, with drivers witnessing other marshals clearing body parts from the area and placing a tarp over Weaver's body. After being red-flagged, the race organisers made the decision to continue the race, which was won by Danny Bagwell.
Following the race, accusations were directed at Paprota, with some journalists questioning whether it was safe to allow a paraplegic driver to compete at a national stock car event. However, his fellow drivers, including Wally Leatherwood, defended him and also criticised the lack of procedures to ensure track worker safety during cautions. Eventually, an investigation concluded Paprota was not to blame for the accident, instead deeming that poor safety communication caused the fatal collision. Weaver's family would file a lawsuit against the Speedway, which was settled in March 2008. Weaver's death was also considered a contributing factor towards the decline of the Dash Series, eventually being discontinued in 2011.
Footage of the race itself is publicly available, as it was televised by Speed. However, the broadcast team decided not provide additional coverage of the race following the red flag, meaning no footage outside of some B-roll clips exist of the race's second-half. As for Weaver's fatal accident, it is known that a trackside camera captured not only the collision, but also track workers cleaning up blood and gathering body parts. It is alleged race officials did not see these clips before restarting the race. Police seized the camera as part of its investigation; considering the graphic nature of the footage, and out of respect to Weaver and his relatives, it is extremely unlikely the video will ever be publicly released.
- Motorsport Memorial page for Roy Weaver III. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- Crash Photos Database detailing the Clevenger-Billings crash and providing photos of it. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- Greensboro News & Record documenting the series of events leading to the accident, and noting aftermath footage was recorded. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- Influential Moments in Racing summarising the accident and noting footage was captured on a wall-mounted camera. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- UPI summarising the accident and noting Weaver's seven-year career at Daytona. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- ESPN reporting on the accident, and of drivers defending Paprota. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- Crash Photos Database detailing the fatal accident and providing aftermath photos of it. Retrieved 5th Aug '22
- Orlando Sentinel reporting on the lawsuit against Daytona International Speedway being settled. Retrieved 5th Aug '22