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William Janke, 57, Dies In Crash At Lebanon Valley Speedway

Condolences are flooding in after a driver was killed during a drag racing event in the region.

William Janke, pictured inset with his family, died in a drag racing crash at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon Sunday, July 7. 

William Janke, pictured inset with his family, died in a drag racing crash at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon Sunday, July 7. 

Photo Credit: Facebook user Angela Cook // Google Maps street view

The Columbia County incident happened at the Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7.

New York State Police said William Janke, age 57, was participating in the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Lucas Oil Divisional Series when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a barrier.

Janke, an Orange County resident from Newburgh, was ejected from his 2013 Chevrolet Camaro and pronounced dead at the scene by medics.

The speedway suspended all racing activities for the day following the wreck. Eliminations were expected to resume Monday, July 8.

Janke was a veteran bracket racer, having competed for more than a decade with the NHRA and Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA), Dragzine reports.

“He absolutely loved drag racing! It was his life and passion,” his wife of 28 years, Meredith Janke, said in a statement that was shared on the Fans of Lebanon Valley Auto Racing Facebook page.

“Please know that he loved his drag racing family! You were the world to him!” she continued. “I truly loved my husband with all my heart, and I really don’t know how I’m going to survive this.”

An online fundraiser to help the family with memorial and other expenses has raised nearly $10,000. Those who wish to donate can do so here.

Funeral arrangements for Janke had not been publicized as of Monday. 

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