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Icing Blamed in Plane Crash That Killed Race Car Driver Kulwicki

March 17, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ice is blamed for the airplane crash that killed race car driver Alan Kulwicki last spring.

Ice was apparently sucked into the engines, causing them to fail and leading to the crash at Tri-City Regional Airport at Blountville, Tenn., on April 1, 1993, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded.

The ice formed before the Fairchild Merlin 300 began its final approach and the plane slowed in a way that indicated loss of power, then began a steep dive and crashed, the report said.

The board’s report said the pilot of the plane had failed to use an engine- inlet anti-ice system.

The manufacturer of the Garrett turboprop engines used in the plane has reported flameouts in other aircraft during or following conditions in which ice could form, the board said. This has happened after descending into warmer air, where the ice on the outside of the cowling could begin to melt and be sucked into the engine.

Besides NASCAR driver Kulwicki, those killed in the crash were Mark Brooks, son of the chief executive officer of Hooters of America, a restaurant chain that sponsored Kulwicki’s car; Dan Duncan, Hooters’ director of sports marketing; and pilot Charlie Campbell of Peachtree City, Ga.

Kulwicki, a North Carolina resident originally from Greenfield, Wis., was the 1992 Winston Cup champion.

According to board investigators, the weather forecast that night called for freezing conditions at 6,000 to 7,000 feet. Kulwicki’s plane was at about 3,000 feet when the crash sequence began. Planes in front of and behind Kulwicki’s reported icing conditions.

Kulwicki was on his way from a promotional appearance in Knoxville, Tenn., to a race at Bristol International Raceway.