Sprint car racer Greg Hodnett was killed during a race at the BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Pennsylvania, on Thursday night, the York County Coroner’s office confirmed in a news release provided to PEOPLE. He was 49.
According to the coroner, Hodnett lost control of his vehicle in turn one of a race just after 9 p.m. local time. He hit a wall at a high-speed, and — despite being restrained and wearing a helmet — died on impact. The cause of the crash is still being investigated, according to the coroner.
An autopsy has been scheduled for Saturday to confirm Hodnett’s cause of death.
According to ESPN, Hodnett won 20 World of Outlaws races during his lengthy career, and was also champion five times at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway.
“Please keep Sherry, the entire Hodnett family, and the Heffner racing team in your thoughts and prayers,” a statement on Hodnett’s website said. “Greg was a professional in every sense of the word, and will be desperately missed!”
Fellow racers and friends recounted the crash to the York Daily Record. Said Hodnett’s friend of 20 years, Les Stewart, “You knew something was wrong when he didn’t get out of the car right away.You knew he was hurt. You didn’t know he was gone.”
Greg Hodnett racing in 2009
Andrea Melendez/The Des Moines Register/AP
Clair Wintermyer, owner of local business, Wintermyer Auto Salvage, told the outlet that Hodnett was “a real easy-going guy.”
“He was friendly with everyone,” continued Wintermyer, adding, “All the years I saw him race, I’ve never even seen him raise his voice. Not once.”