Sportsman D1 Racer Bill Janke Dies in Rollover Crash

Bill Janke's 2013 Top Sportsman Chevrolet Camaro in action - Diane Kubicke photo
Bill Janke’s 2013 Top Sportsman Chevrolet Camaro in action – Diane Kubicke photo

Lebanon Valley Dragway in rural West Lebanon, NY was the site of NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series’ Division 1 race this past weekend. Unfortunately Newburgh, NY-based Top Sportsman competitor Bill Janke was fatally injured during Sunday’s eliminations on July 7th, causing the balance of competition to be postponed until Monday, July 8th.

Janke was racing his 2013 Chevrolet Camaro when the incident occurred. According to those at the scene, Janke’s Camaro flipped over the wall and the crash resulted in fatal injuries. The severity of his crash of course highlighted the risks all racers face in competition. Safety measures, while regularly updated could not stop Janke’s accident and his resultant death on this quarter-mile racetrack.

A racer who gained pure joy in his love of the sport, Jake and wife Meredith were beloved in the Division 1 area in which he competed. Mrs. Janke’s comments, posted on Facebook shortly after confirmation of his death, spoke to every competitor in this sport.


In addition, the NHRA’s Division 1 offices issued the following statement on Monday morning: “The NHRA Northeast Division sends our thoughts and prayers to our racing community and the Janke Family. We ask that you all respect the families privacy while they work through these tough times.”

NHRA is working to understand why this crash occurred and what can be done to remedy this situation going forward. For that reason, Division 1 personnel noted, “There is no need for speculation, blame or negativity. Keep our Lebanon Valley and NHRA first responders and track officials in your prayers as well. If any racer, team member or staff member needs any assistance, please reach out to the D-1 Office and we will connect you with the appropriate support group for help. We are all here for each other and all encounters are confidential. Godspeed, Bill.”

About Anne Proffit 1298 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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