SPRINGFIELD IL, Veteran ARCA stock car driver Dean Roper died at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield this afternoon after an accident in which his Ford slowed on the frontstretch and impacted the inside retaining wall on lap 17 of the ARCA RE/MAX Series PAR-A-DICE 100 at the mile dirt Illinois State Fairgrounds track.
There were no visible injuries and Roper was unconscious when safety teams arrived. The Fair Grove, Missouri driver was then transported to Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Roper, 62, was the USAC Stock driving champion 1981-82-83 and was the winningest ARCA RE/MAX driver on dirt with 9 career victories, including 3 at the Springfield mile. He became the 2nd oldest driver to record an ARCA RE/MAX Series victory when he won at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in 1994 at age 55. The majority of Ropers success came at the wheel of stock cars fielded by the Mueller Brothers Racing Team of Random Lake, Wisconsin. Roper drove his first race in 1960 and was a 5-time St. Louis-area short track champion from 1967-73 prior to his national championship racing success.
Roper is survived by wife Marilyn and brother Dale Roper, both of whom were at the track on Sunday.
Ropers son, race driver Tony Roper, was fatally injured in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.