A former NASCAR driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to leading sheriff’s
deputies on a freeway chase that reached 140 mph in his Corvette.
James Neal, 56, of San Clemente was sentenced to a month in
jail and probation after entering his plea to felony evasion while
Orange County sheriff’s deputies tried to pull over Neal at 3
a.m. Monday in San Clemente for not having a front license plate on
his 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, a minor infraction that he could have
settled without a fine, sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said.
Neal refused to stop and sped onto Interstate 5, where the
California Highway Patrol took over the chase, Amormino said. Neal
raced south at speeds of up to 140 mph and quickly pulled away from
“He was going so fast that they lost sight of him,” Amormino
Because the infraction wasn’t serious enough and Neal was
endangering other drivers, officers decided to stop pursuing him,
Neal finally pulled over after his engine blew up near La
Jolla, 50 miles from where the chase started. Deputies arrested him
without a struggle.
“You drive any car that far, about 50 miles, and that fast,
it’ll blow up because it’s not built for that,” Amormino said.
Neal was a NASCAR track racer at the old Ascot Park track in
Gardena in the early 1980s, said Daytona Beach, Fla.-based NASCAR.
He never won a national race.