By Dave Maxwell 

Lincoln County Record

Race CarA 71-year old race driver in the Silver State Classic was killed Sunday as he neared the finish line.

According to Sheriff’s Department reports, Phil Bowser, of San Jose, California, died when he rolled his 1997 Porsche and it burst into flames on one of the final curves north of U.S. 93 near Hiko.  The race, held twice a year, covers a 90-mile stretch of highway between Lund and Hiko is closed for the event.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said Bowser, a veteran of many Silver State Challenge races, was entered in the 150 mph division and was trying to complete the course with an average speed of at least 150 mph.  Bowser’s brother was also entered in the race in the 145 mph division.

The accident happened about 9 a.m. First responders found the vehicle fully involved. Local Fire and EMS units responded with White Pine EMS on standby.

Bowser’s daughter Amy, was riding with him as navigator. Lee said the 44-year old Reno woman escaped the fire with minor injuries, and attempted to get her father out of the car once it caught fire, but was unable to do so. She was taken to Las Vegas by Pahranagat Valley EMS with minor facial injuries.

According to the Associated Press, Amy said she believed a distraction caused the crash.

Lee said the initial coroner’s reported indicated the Porsche drifted to the right shoulder of the roadway and maneuvering a slight left turn.  The vehicle then abruptly rotated left, crossing both travel lanes, and left the highway on the east shoulder. It rolled over once, and burst into flames.

The competition halted for about three hours after the accident, then resumed before being completely cancelled by stormy weather about 3 p.m.

Wrecks are fairly rare in the Silver State Classic, but do happen. But Lee said he knows of only three fatalities in the 27-year history of the event. The last one being in 2011 that killed both occupants of the car. “They take lots of precautions,” he said.

The current speed record for the race is 217 mph.