Nov 2, 2001
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Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Stuart Stratton's view of an official standing on the grid at the start of the warm-up lap for the October 19 CCS GTO Expert race at Daytona may have been obscured by a second bike, an eyewitness said today.<BR><BR>Racer Jim Lester said that he saw another rider in front of Stratton as Stratton practiced a start and left for the warm-up lap. The second rider swerved around official Virgil "Spud" Davis but Stratton hit Davis before veering into the pit wall head-first.<BR><BR>"He was behind another bike," said Lester in a phone call to Roadracing World. "What I saw was, the other bike veered over, and he (Stratton) hit the guy (Davis)."<BR><BR>Lester said he rejects the theory that Stratton was looking down at his instruments during his practice start and looked up too late to avoid Davis, who was walking down the grid and motioning riders to leave on the warm-up lap.<BR><BR>"Once you get moving, you look where you're going," said Lester. "Nobody does a start and keeps looking at their instruments, no way. He couldn't see the official because he was following another bike."<BR><BR>Stratton was fatally injured in the incident, while Davis suffered leg injuries and is expected to recover.<BR><BR><BR>Another eyewitness was Tricia Matusick, who desribes herself as being "Crew Chief/Fiancee for rider #31, Dr. Jeffrey Purk, DDS", and who desribed the scene and her reaction as follows: "Being up on the hot pit wall right where Stuart Stratton was killed, makes it very hard to be a caring, supportive, Crew Chief/Fiancee for my rider.<BR><BR>"I had just jumped back over the wall from sending my rider out for the hot lap. Looked down the rest of the grid and was watching all of the other riders take off. When I noticed Stuart taking off, all I could think was, what the hell was he doing. The next thing I know he hit Spud, I saw him go up into the air, lose his shoe and hit the ground.<BR><BR>"I was standing right in front of the wall when Stuart hit. The clutch lever came over the wall and hit the back part of my shoulder. As soon as Stuart stopped, I jumped over the wall to check on him. I yelled 'Hello, can you hear me?' There was no response. I started to yell for help. I reached down on Stuart's left side to try and find a pulse. I couldn't find one. In the meantime I was still trying to get help. The starter came over and helped. I told her I couldn't find a pulse, and she told me to get security over there. Everyone was helping Spud.<BR><BR>"I was yelling and finally the ambulance got there and they asked me to get back. I will never forget what I saw that day and how bad Stuart's injuries were. The blood, his eyes and how they looked because the faceshield on the helmet was gone, the feelings in my stomach that I had. All the questions I had to answer, the reports I had to write down. It was rough.<BR><BR>"But still to this day and forever I will always be supportive to my rider and any other rider who is out on any track."