Retired NASCAR driver James Hylton, son killed in truck crash in Georgia

In this May 6, 2011, file photo, James Hylton waves to the crowd during driver introductions for the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C

Former NASCAR driver James Hylton and his son were killed in a truck accident early Saturday on an interstate in northern Georgia, officials said.

The Georgia State Patrol told WSPA the crash happened just after 6 a.m. on Interstate 85 in Carnesville, located 85 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The truck ran off the roadway and hit an embankment, killing two passengers and leaving the driver seriously injured. Authorities identified the two victims as 83-year-old James Harvey Hylton and 61-year-old James Harvey Hylton, Jr.

Franklin County Deputy Coroner Clayton Bryant told the Associated Press the three men had to be extricated from the GMC truck, which was pulling a trailer carrying a race car and other equipment. No other vehicles were involved in the crash, according to police.

Bryant said the driver, whose name was not released, was transported to a hospital in Greenville, S.C., for treatment of injuries including several broken bones.

The Georgia State Patrol said it was still investigating and had not determined whether to cite the driver.

Hylton and his son were both from Inman, S.C., according to FOX Carolina.

Hylton was the 1966 Rookie of the Year, and started 602 races in the Cup Series and won two races in a career that began in 1964. He finished second in the points standings three times.

NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series said in a joint statement that  “dedication, passion and longevity in motorsports is virtually unmatched.”

“We have lost a truly special member of the racing family and a beloved figure among generations of competitors and race fans alike,” the statement said.

Born on his family’s farm in Virginia in 1934, Hylton started driving in his father’s Ford Model T. His brother taught him how to work the pedals. Hylton worked on the farm to help his family make ends meet during the Depression.

He then embarked on a winding career in motor sports, starting out as a mechanic for Rex White and then as crew chief for Ned Jarrett in the early days of NASCAR, then got back behind the wheel and placed second in the Cup standings in 1966.

Hylton also finished second in points to Richard Petty in 1967 and 1971. His victories came at Richmond in 1970 and Talladega in 1972. In all, the good-natured Hylton racked up 140 top-five finishes and 301 top-10s in the Cup series.

He also attempted 21 Daytona 500s between 1966 and 2007, finishing as high as third in 1967.

Hylton raced full time in the ARCA Series between 2009 and 2013. He started 175 ARCA races as a driver, making his final start at the age of 78 in 2013. As an owner, he fielded a car in 638 Cup and 413 ARCA events with Kirk Shelmerdine earning the team its lone ARCA win in 2003.