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From the Marbles

Vietnam Vet festival at Charlotte Motor Speedway ends in tragedy

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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Riders at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution)

A daylong festival at Charlotte Motor Speedway meant to honor the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans ended in tragedy on Saturday as two motorcyclists riding on the track died following a collision. A third rider is in critical condition.

The Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration, which attracted more than 62,000 people, was meant as a way to commemorate the service of Vietnam veterans and their families. The event included a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band and the passionate support of advocacy groups and others supporting veterans and their families, as well as a traveling exhibition of the Vietnam War Memorial.

During the course of the event, motorcycle riders took to the track. And while the details of the wreck have not been released, several witnesses interviewed by area newspapers indicate there was plenty of unsafe driving going on. The two riders killed were operating motorcycles that collided.

Many of the estimated 2,000 riders were not wearing helmets. Some riders were attempting to scale the speedway's high-banked turns, which aren't meant for slower-speed driving. Finally, there were reports that traffic was going both ways on the speedway, which, of course, has no lane markers to guide riders.

Concord, N.C. police are investigating the incident. Neither the track nor the event's sponsors, the USO and the N.C. Association of Broadcasters, would comment on the accident.

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