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Aug 19, 2014 06:18 AM EDT

Stony Brook Student Dies in Crash at New Jersey Track

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Amanda Gambacorto, a 21-year-old marketing assistant and communications intern at the Stony Brook University, was killed in a crash at the Wall Stadium Speedway, Saturday afternoon.

Gambacorto from Belford was participating in a program for novice drivers and was driving a three-quarter midget race car. The program allows fans to get behind the wheel of a race car to learn how to drive. She suffered severe head trauma after her race car crashed into a wall and was pronounced dead an hour later.

State police said that initial investigation indicated that all required safety equipment were in place.

Gambacorto was gifted a three-quarter midget race car on her 21st birthday by her father, reports News12. Neighbors said that the trip to the race track was part of a birthday gift from her parents.

At Stony Brook, Gambacorto was double-majoring in environmental humanities and philosophy, according to her LinkedIn page. Her fellow sisters from the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority expressed their condolences by saying, "For those who didn't know Amanda that well, she was a fiery spirit who would try anything once."

"She was a good, hardworking girl and smart," said Jay Cosgrove, owner of Moby's, the bar where Gambacorto worked. "She had a lot of friends and a lot of big plans for her life," Fox Sports reports.

The accident occurred one week after 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed by a car driven by NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart in an Empire Sprint Series race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. A rear tire on Stewart's car collided with Ward, throwing him down the track and killing him.

Folowing Ward's death, NASCAR implemented new rules effective immediately designed for driver safety. It requires drivers remain in their cars if stopped until safety personnel arrive, "unless extenuating emergency conditions exist with the racecar (i.e. fire, smoke in cockpit, etc.)."

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