Article from Missouri paper
1938 - 2001
Veteran ARCA stock car driver Dean Roper suffered a fatal heart attack during the ARCA RE/MAX Series PAR-A-DICE 100 at the mile dirt Illinois State Fairgrounds and was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield Sunday afternoon, according to Susan Boone, Sangamon County Coroner.
Roper suffered no other injuries in the single car incident during which his Ford slowed on the frontstretch, gradually veered to the left and impacted the inside retaining wall three times on lap 17 of the race, finally stopping when the car impacted the wall at the pit road exit. Roper, unconscious when safety teams arrived, was extricated and transported to Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Roper, 62, from Fair Grove Missouri, was the USAC Stock national champion driver in 1981-82-83 and recorded 10 career USAC Stock victories. He was the winningest active ARCA RE/MAX Series driver on dirt with 9 career victories, including 3 at the Springfield mile, where he also recorded 4 of his USAC wins. He became the 2nd oldest driver to record an ARCA RE/MAX Series victory when he won at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in 1994 at age 55. The majority of Roper's success came at the wheel of stock cars fielded by the Mueller Brothers Racing Team of Random Lake Wisconsin, for whom he was driving Sunday. Roper drove his first race in 1960 and was a 5-time St. Louis-area short track champion from 1967-73 prior to his national championship racing success.
Roper is survived by his wife Marilyn and brother Dale Roper, both of whom were at the track on Sunday, and mother Jean Roper and sisters Lois Davis, Becky Farmer, Jeri Roper, Sue Roper and Jana Setzer.
Roper's son, race driver Tony Roper, was fatally injured in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in October 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.