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Retired NASCAR driver and family survive fiery plane crash

Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt jnr, his wife, Amy, and their year-old daughter, Isla Rose, were involved in a plane crash in Tennessee on Thursday afternoon, Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, said on Twitter.

Nobody was hurt, Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier told station WJHL.

Elizabethton is 22.5 kilometres south of Bristol Motor Speedway, where Earnhardt is scheduled to work this weekend as part of NBC's broadcast team.

"Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation," Kelley Earnhardt tweeted.

"We have no further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding."

The family's two pilots also were involved and were unhurt, Earnhardt Miller said in her tweet.

Videos posted on Twitter showed the plane's fuselage cracked in two and a combination of flames and black smoke billowing from the opening.

Photos taken later showed the plane was almost fully engulfed in flames.

Earnhardt transitioned to the broadcast booth in 2018 after 18 full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series, the highest level of stock car racing.

There, Earnhardt emerged as not only one of the sport's most talented drivers, but also its most marketable.

Dale Earnhardt jnr with his wife Amy Reimann. They have survived a plan crash in the US.

Dale Earnhardt jnr with his wife Amy Reimann. They have survived a plan crash in the US.Credit:AP

Following his father's death in the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt went on to win NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award 15 times.

His streak, which ran consecutively from 2003 until his retirement in 2017, fell one short of the record held by Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

When fellow NASCAR stars Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick left the sport in recent seasons, Earnhardt emerged as the face of NASCAR.

He also served as racing's public voice of sorts, speaking out about social justice issues.

Earnhardt reached that status without ever winning a championship at NASCAR's highest level.

He did win 26 races over the course of his career, including the prestigious Daytona 500 twice.

Earnhardt announced that he would be retiring from full-time cup series racing in 2017 because of concerns about previous head injuries and wanting to start a family.

Earnhardt remains active in the sport as a race analyst for NBC.

Charlotte Observer

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