Richard Childress Racing pit crew member Donald 'D.J.' Richardson, who was stricken with the H1N1 virus over the Thanksgiving holiday, has died at the age of 37.
Richardson joined RCR in July 2009 and finished the Sprint Cup Series season as the rear-tyre changer for the #29 team with driver Kevin Harvick.
He contracted the swine-flu virus during a visit to Massachusetts over the Thanksgiving holiday and passed away on Christmas Day.
"All of us at RCR are saddened by D.J.'s passing," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "D.J. was a gifted tyre changer, one of the greatest team players in the business and a valued member of the RCR family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Richardson's condition worsened following the onset of pneumonia before he went to Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster for evaluation. Doctors quickly admitted Richardson to the hospital's intensive care unit with acute respiratory distress syndrome. He remained in the hospital until his death.
Richardson began his Sprint Cup Series career with Andy Petree Racing in 1999. He has also worked for Penske Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Braun Racing.
"I am shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and teammate," said Matt Clark, RCR director of human performance and leadership development. "Anyone who knew D.J. realised that below the tough exterior was a caring father, friend and team-mate. He had a huge heart and would do anything to help someone in need.
“D.J. loved changing tires and was recognised as one of the top pit athletes at the position. I want to extend my condolences to his family and friends."