Originally created 02/24/03

Wind hampers Army parachutists



ROCKINGHAM, N.C. - Four parachutists from the U.S. Army were injured Sunday when gusty winds blew them throughout the infield of North Carolina Speedway during pre-race festivities.

All eight jumpers from the U.S. Army's Special Operations Command Parachute Team required treatment at the race track after their jumps, but four were sent to the hospital.

Sustained winds measured at 18 mph created havoc for the skydivers, who were supposed to land in the grassy strip that separates pit road from the front straightaway. Only one parachutist landed in the grass, and he hit hard as horrified fans watched.

One landed in the motor home compound for the drivers. He bounced off a motor home, caromed off the side of a trailer, then was pulled across the trailer and into the side of another trailer before finally hitting the ground.

Another skydiver landed in the garage area. He hit the fence where the team haulers are parked. A jumper landed in the middle of the garage after narrowly missing the roof to the garage.

A third landed very hard on the race track.

The Command Center for Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg refused to identify the parachutists or their condition.

TRY, TRY AGAIN: The Rockingham 200 for the NASCAR Busch Series will try again today.

The race, originally scheduled for Saturday, was postponed by thunderstorms and pushed back to an 11 a.m. start today (FX).

David Green will be on the pole, followed by Jamie McMurray, Scott Riggs, Kasey Kahne, Jason Keller, Michael Waltrip, Ron Hornaday, Kevin Harvick, Todd Bodine and Scott Wimmer in 10th.

DOG DALE AFTERNOON: Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit everything but the pace car during Sunday's race.

He was involved in five different incidents, but managed to finish in 33rd place, three laps behind race winner Dale Jarrett.