February 16, 2009

Auto racer Hawkins dies in shooting

Up-and-coming U.S. stock car racer Matt Hawkins died in an accidental self-inflicted shooting, officials say.

Cherokee County, Ga., Sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. Jay Baker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the fatal shooting occurred Saturday when the 21-year-old race car driver from Ball Ground, Ga., was showing a gun to some of his friends and the gun discharged.

Baker said the bullet from the 9mm pistol struck Hawkins in the head. Hawkins was taken to Northside Hospital in Cherokee, Ga., where he was pronounced dead.

The Journal-Constitution said Hawkins won in his first start in the Hooters Pro Cup in March 2007, and repeated the feat in the ARCA Re/Max Series in April 2008. He wrote on his Web site that he got his start as a competitive go-cart driver when he was 4 years old.