Former NASCAR Star James Hylton and Son Killed in Highway Crash

Former NASCAR driver James Hylton and his son, Jmaes "Tweety" Hylton Jr., were killed in a car accident Saturday morning on their way home from an Automobile Racing Club of America event, PEOPLE reports.

The crash occurred on Interstate 85 in Georgia while the father and son duo, along with a driver, were driving home from a Friday race at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway, the Franklin County Deputy Coroner Clayton Bryant confirmed.

Hylton Sr., 83, and Hylton Jr., 61, were pronounced dead on the scene, Bryant said. The truck's driver survived the devastating crash and was rushed to a Greenville, South Carolina hospital where it was determined that he suffered broken bones from the accident. He has been identified as crew chief Terry Strange.

In an interview with The Roanoke Times, Hylton Sr.'s ex-wife, Evelyn Hylton, talked about the former couple's only son.

"He was very pure. He didn't smoke or drink or anything else. He was a very good person. Everybody loved him," she said. "He was a schoolteacher, and James talked him into quitting and going racing with him."

Evelyn told the outlet that she spoke to her son on the phone around midnight when he told her they were hitting the road after stopping to eat at an Alabama restaurant.

A police officer arrived at her home Saturday morning to inform her of the crash.

"[The officer] said Terry...told them that he thought James was having a heart attack and he looked over at him and lost control of the truck and went across the median and then across the other lane of traffic and hit an embankment," Evelyn said. "The truck, towing a big trailer with a race car on it, thousands of pounds, you have to be really careful."

Following the crash, NASCAR released a statement.

"Racing competitively in parts of six decades, James Hylton's dedication, passion and longevity in motorsports is virtually unmatched. Hylton won the rookie of the year at NASCAR's highest level, the 1972 race at Talladega Superspeedway and regularly contented for championships during the early years of his career," the statement read.

"His racing influence continued into the ARCA series, where he competed as a driver and, most recently, a car owner. We have lost a truly special member of the racing family and a beloved figure among generations of competitors and race fans alike. We extend our deepest condolences to the Hylton family on the tragic loss of James Hylton and his son James Jr.," the statement concluded.

Several NASCAR drivers and fans took to Twitter to share their condolences.

"I'm thinking of the friends and family of James Hylton. James was a true racer and loved this sport so much. It was an honor to meet him a few times over the years, he will be missed," Jimmie Johnson wrote.


"Thoughts and prayers out to Hylton family and friends," wrote Dale Earnhardt. Jr. "James was a legend. He enjoyed his time in sock car racing and saw the sport evolve and grow over the many decades he was involved."