AUGUSTA, Ga., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A Michigan drag boat racer was killed when his boat disintegrated in a crash during a race on Oklahoma's Grand River, authorities said.
John Haas, 55, a 30-year competitor on the drag boat racing circuit, died from internal injuries in the 200 mph crash Saturday, the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle reported.
Haas had recently piloted his Speed Sport Special to victory in the 25th annual Augusta Southern Nationals.
"We're just in shock," Dayton Sherrouse, chairman of the Southern Nationals, said. "It is very, very sad."
"He had been coming here a long time," Sherrouse said. "This year, after he won, there was a long line of kids wanting to get pictures taken with him and get T-shirts signed. He was very patient and nice to all of them."
In Oklahoma, Haas had just crossed the finish line and was traveling 217 mph as the boat hit a small wave and came apart.
The reinforced safety capsule used in drag boats flew about 30 feet into the air and landed upside down and backwards.