March 26, 1976|
|Died||October 4, 2001
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
|Cause of death||Basilar skull fracture from crash in during 2001 ARCA EasyCare 100|
|Awards||1996 ARCA Rookie of the Year|
|NASCAR Xfinity Series career|
|65 races run over 5 years|
|Best finish||25th – 2000|
|First race||1997 Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 (California)|
|Last race||2001 MBNA.com 200 (Dover)|
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career|
|2 races run over 1 year|
|First race||1997 Loadhandler 200 (Bristol)|
|Last race||1997 Parts America 150 (Watkins Glen)|
Blaise Robert Alexander, Jr. (March 26, 1976 – October 4, 2001) was a stock car racer from Montoursville, Pennsylvania. He began racing at the age of 12 in go-karts, winning the coveted World Karting Association East Regional championship in 1992. In 1995, he moved south to Mooresville, North Carolina and drove in the ARCA Racing Series. Named ARCA's rookie of the year in 1996, Alexander was a regular driver in that series while also driving in both the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series.
On October 4, 2001, during the ACRA EasyCare 100 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Alexander's car crashed into the outside retaining wall nearly head-on. He died from a basilar skull fracture, the fifth driver death from rapid-deceleration head-and-neck movements in 17 months, convincing NASCAR to mandate the HANS or Hutchens devices for all drivers.
Alexander was born on March 26, 1976 in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. He began his stock car career at age 12 in the World Karting Association and was the champion of the East Series in 1992. From that point, Alexander moved onto the Micro-Sprint racing series at tracks in different states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, posting a total of 48 wins in the series. In 1995, Alexander moved from Montoursville to Mooresville, North Carolina to pursue a racing career.
Alexander drove a few races in the ARCA Re-Max Series in 1995. With a full season in 1996, Alexander won ARCA's Rookie of the Year Award. During his 1996 rookie season, Alexander pulled off a second-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Alexander achieved two more second-place finishes in 1997. Alexander won his first ARCA race in 1998 at Toledo Speedway and won a second race the same year at Pocono Raceway. He led in 18 ARCA races for a total of 490 laps led. Alexander's final win came in July 2001, at Michigan International Speedway. Alexander earned a total of four career pole awards, in races at Michigan, Watkins Glen, Toledo and Winchester.
In 1997, still running fifteen races in ARCA, Alexander began driving in NASCAR in the Busch Series and the Craftsman Truck Series. He only raced twice in the truck series, and had modest success in Busch, including a top-10 finish at North Carolina Speedway in only his second start in the series. Alexander signed to run for Team SABCO during the 2000 Busch season, posting two top-ten finishes and finishing 25th in points. After that year, he decided to return to the ARCA series in 2001.
At the EasyCare 100 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 4, 2001, Alexander was involved in a 2-car accident during lap 63 of the race. He was fighting for the lead position with Kerry Earnhardt for most of the race. During the lap, Earnhardt had to dodge a lapped car by hitting his brakes, which caused Alexander's No. 75 to catch up to Earnhardt's No. 2. Alexander began to inch into the lead when Earnhardt's car broke traction at the rear and made contact with Alexander's, sending Alexander's car head-on into the wall and back into Earnhardt's car causing Earnhardt to flip over onto his roof and slide into the grass. After the wreck, Earnhardt got away unharmed, while Alexander was knocked unconscious. The ARCA race officials quickly threw out the red flag to send rescue workers onto the track to check on Alexander. Earnhardt had already gotten out of his car and wanted to go check on Alexander, a friend of his. Officials would not allow Earnhardt to see him and was taken to the infield care center. Alexander was pronounced dead at the infield care center at 10:20 PM. He was 25 years old. Alexander was interred at the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, his hometown.
Alexander's death, caused by a basilar skull fracture sustained in the impact, was the sixth in two years. Other high-profile drivers killed in this period included Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Tony Roper and Dale Earnhardt. As a result of Alexander's crash, NASCAR announced that the use of head and neck restraint devices would be required to keep drivers safe from these types of injuries, caused by rapid deceleration in wrecks. The use of such devices had been optional up until Alexander's death, though 41 out of 43 drivers in NASCAR's top series were already using them.
In response to these deaths, NASCAR eventually installed SAFER barriers on all NASCAR oval tracks.
After his 1995 move to North Carolina, Alexander enjoyed a close friendship with fellow Busch rookie driver and eventual NASCAR superstar, Jimmie Johnson, as they competed against each other on the track, while supporting each other off it. Alexander's memory has been honored by Johnson in several public and private ways, including dedicating his first Cup win to Alexander during a televised interview in victory lane, sending condolences in a victory lane interview after the passing of Blaise's mother, and supporting various charity causes and events that Alexander initiated in his hometown area of Central Pennsylvania. Additionally, on every one of Johnson's race cars is a small decal commemorating Blaise.
- 2001: A year to forget for Kerry Earnhardt. Nascar.com (2001-10-11). Retrieved on 2011-12-05.
- BLAISE ALEXANDER (1976–2001) – ARCA Racing.com at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007)
- BLAISE ALEXANDER – ARCA Racing.com at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007)
- A year later, Johnson still affected by Alexander. NASCAR.com (2002-10-11). Retrieved on 2011-12-05.