An altercation in the pits at Bakersfield Speedway on Saturday night has left one person hospitalized and another arrested.
Zachary Diamond of Bakersfield remains hospitalized at Kern Medical Center and is unresponsive, according to his mother, Linda Valdez. Diamond was allegedly assaulted by Kyle Flippo, who was later arrested on assault charges, sheriff's Sgt. Doug Sword said Tuesday. The Kern County Jail website shows Flippo is no longer in custody.
Neither Diamond nor Flippo are drivers.
Diamond, 20, is the brother of Jacob Diamond, Valdez’s other son, who finished sixth in a Mod Lites feature race at the track. Danny Valdez, Linda’s husband, finished second in the race.
Flippo is the father of Jerry Flippo, who finished fourth.
“He’s not in a coma, but unresponsive for the most part,” Valdez said of her son. “He’s got a right-side skull fracture and bleeding from the right ear and a bleeding hemorrhage on the left side of his brain. He responds if you say his name but does not respond to commands.
“He’s in God’s hands.”
The incident happened near the technical inspection area where the top finishers go following the race.
Diamond and his family and the family of Flippo got into an altercation over something to do with the race, Sword said. During the incident, Flippo hit Diamond, apparently with his fist, and Diamond fell and was unconscious, Sword said.
Diamond was attended to at the track before being transported by ambulance to the hospital.
Deputies were called to the Speedway at 9:11 p.m.
Sword said there were no other arrests he was aware of in connection with the incident.
“From what I understand, there were words exchanged between the two teams for whatever reason I have no idea,” said Speedway owner Scott Schweitzer, who watched the race from the opposite end of the track. "Our official down there reported it and it happened so fast that by the time our other officials and security got down there it was over.
“What took place is sickening and uncalled for.”
Schweitzer said the track does not tolerate physical altercations and that anyone who throws a punch is suspended from the track for a year.
"I get that racing gets intense and people have a lot of money invested, but there is absolutely no reason for physical retaliation on the facility," Schweitzer said. "(Fighting) is the last thing we are trying to promote."