HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Family and friends are mourning the loss of a veteran drag racer from North Alabama who lost his life in an accident at the NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta.
Randy Alexander, 69, of Harvest, was a well-known figure in the racing community, and in North Alabama where he worked for decades at a big car dealership.
Scott Underwood is already missing Alexander, his dear friend. They were coworkers at Century Automotive in Huntsville where Alexander worked for 40 years before retiring last year.
"I ate lunch with him every day for 18 years. He was always laughing," Underwood said. "He was the Buick Isuzu service manager for 30 years and the last 10 years, he was the Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo service manager."
Outside of work, the two friends have been longtime drivers in the NHRA Top Sportsman racing series. They have raced all over the southeast. They were both at Southern Nationals this past weekend when Alexander was involved in a deadly accident.
Underwood had just finished his pass and as he was getting out his car, he heard the announcer yelling and knew something was wrong.
"I've never seen anything like that in the sportsman series, which is what we're called. It was a very unusual event," he stated.
It's not clear what caused Alexander to lose control of his 1963 Corvette, but he darted to left and into the path of his opponent, who was still traveling at more than 200 miles per hour, according to reports. Alexander was going 160 miles per hour. His opponent's drag racer t-boned Alexander and flipped it into the air due to the sheer force of the impact.
The Corvette landed on the guardrail about 150 feet down the dragway. Alexander was pronounced dead a few hours later.
"I've never seen anything like that in the sportsman series, which is what we're called. It was a very unusual event," Underwood said.
Stunned members of the racing community from all over the country have been offering condolences online in the wake of his death.
"Out of our group, I'm the only knucklehead that's ever had a wreck. That was several years ago. it's just not something that happens. Just like the professional series or any fast series of racing, we have to wear the harness device, the helmets that have to be a certain certification, our seat belts, neck collar, the jacket, the pants, the shoes. Overall, it's a pretty safe sport. This was just tragic," Underwood added.
At the Huntsville Dragway where Randy Alexander was a mainstay for more than 30 years, they held a moment of silence over the weekend. Races were held in his honor.
"It's just the way it is. There's not a better family than the racing family….You didn't want to race him. He was a good racer. He won his share of races out here at Huntsville. He always had a nice car," Underwood said. "Ans he always took pride in his car."
"He was the nicest guy. He would help any racer or family in need. He was a true gentleman," added Alex Young with Huntsville Dragway.
Alexander was also a Vietnam veteran who was known for his caring nature.
"He loved his family, loved his wife, Bonita, and he loved animals. I don't anybody who loved animals more than Randy. He just deep down was a good guy and would do anything for anybody. In fact, I borrowed a tool from him Monday before we went to the races. He was just that kind of guy.
A memorial service for Randy Alexander will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville.
According to his obituary, Alexander was a native of Madison County and a resident of Limestone County.
"He loved racing and was known as "Rat" in his racing community where he competed for many years. He was Veteran of the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam ('70-'71). He was very patriotic and took great pride in his service. Having retired from Century Automotive after 40 years of service he worked part time as a shuttle driver for Bill Penney Automotive," it states.
In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations can be made to Wounded Warriors, Purple Heart Foundation, or Huntsville Humane Society.
The National Hot Rod Association released the following statement on its website:
Copyright 2018 WAFF. All rights reserved.