By Dan Dakin - Motorsport.com
BOWMANVILLE, ONT. - One race car driver is dead and a second is in critical condition following a violent crash at a race track in Ontario, Canada. The accident occurred on the 38th lap of Sunday's Trans-Am Series race at the historic Mosport International Speedway circuit about an hour outside Toronto.
Mike Gagliardo, 46 of Chicago, was pronounced dead at Lakeridge Heath Center in Bowmanville around 2:30 p.m. Sunday following the Turn 1 accident with Gary Longo, 25.
According to witnesses, Gagliardo's Corvette made contact with the Corvette of Randy Ruhlman in the high-speed Turn 1 at Mosport, hit a retaining wall and then came back onto the course between Turns 1 and 2. Longo's Panoz Esperante had no place to go and T-boned the Corvette at nearly top speed. Both cars then hit the inside wall leaving wreckage strewn across the track.
The 50-lap race was red-flagged for more than 40 minutes while both drivers were extricated from their cars while thousands of fans looked on.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with both of our driver friends and their families. The Trans-Am Series is really one big, extended family and we all share their concern and grief," said former champion Paul Gentilozzi, who went on to win the race by a narrow margin over Tommy Archer in a Dodge Viper.
After the wreck Gagliardo was taken by ambulance to the Lakeridge Health Center in Bowmanville where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, while Longo was airlifted to Sunnybrook Medical Center in Toronto conscious and alert but in critical condition.
The two mangled cars were covered and taken away by series officials. Within minutes of the race's conclusion Durham Regional Police officers arrived to begin investigating the accident.
"What we do in this situation is have the coroner come out and we basically do whatever he needs us to. In racing the rules of the Highway Traffic Act don't apply. It's almost like boxing they assume the risk," said sergeant Harry Otter.
Longo races for LAC Motorsports along with teammate Kerry Alexander. He is a rookie in the series, and won the Skip Barber "Rookie of the Year" in 2000. He drives a Panoz Esparantes. Longo is from Chicago, Illinois.
Gagliardo was making his first appearance in Trans-Am this year. His last appearance in the series was at his home-track, Road America, last year. Gagliardo has competed in SCCA for many years and is a former S2000 SCCA National Champion.
Gagliardo lived in Chicago, Illinois, His family owns and operates Columbus Foods Company.
Series points leader Johnny Miller finished third and rounding out the Top 5 in Sunday's Round 3 race were Lou Gigliotti and Ruhlman.
The popular Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup resumes with Round 4 in Detroit on June 16.