The family of a teenage speedway racer watched in horror from the trackside as she slammed into a wall and died late yesterday afternoon.

Samantha Mouat, 15, was racing her ministock car at Kaikohe Speedway's Easter Stampede and Demolition Derby when she crashed just after 4pm.

The event will continue despite the tragedy.

Kaikohe Speedway secretary Debbie Beadle said the Mt Maunganui teen was the only person in her vehicle and the crash appeared to be caused by "driver error".

Meanwhile, the Department of Labour will investigate the incident to determine whether there has been a breach of the Health and Safety Act.

Ministock racing is primarily for youth drivers. The cars are built to resemble stockcars but they are a non-contact class.

Beadle would not be drawn on the crash specifics but said there were many witnesses.

It is understood Samantha's family were watching her race - apart from her father, who was on holiday.

Julie Cufflin, ministocks representative for the Mt Maunganui Speedway Association, confirmed Samantha's tragic death and said she had been racing for only one season. Her car was number 66m.

Cufflin witnessed the crash, along with other association members.

She was too distressed to speak about what happened in detail.

"We're all just trying to deal with it. We're still at the track."

Willie Kay, promoter for Baypark speedway in Mt Maunganui, Samantha's home track, said he was still in shock.

"She was a bright little thing, and I just can't believe it. It's just absolutely shocking, we're all devastated at Baypark. She was well known, very popular, very competitive."

Samantha's best friend Tori Mouat, who is not related, also drove at Kaikohe yesterday.

Tori's mother Tracey said last night both were "devastated".

Members of the Whangarei police serious crash unit attended but, because Samantha died on a private track, the Department of Labour is leading the investigation into her death.

The Kaikohe Speedway is operated by the Circle Track Racing Association.

No one from the association was available for comment.

Serious questions about the safety of speedway and stockcar drivers have been raised after deaths on tracks around the country.

Peter Barry, 44, died from a brain injury in February, several days after crashing during the New Zealand Stockcar Champs. He had been using a head and neck safety device - known as a Hans - which are not compulsory for racers.

Palmerston North coroner Tim Scott said administrators should consider recommending head restraints normally used in Formula One racing for stockcar events.

Fatal speedway crashes
February 2009: A Hawke's Bay driver received head injuries during a superstock event at Palmerston North and died several days later. A coroner's report recommended a review of safety measures.

January 2008: A 19-year-old sprint car driver was injured in a crash at Mt Maunganui's Baypark speedway, and later died in hospital.

April 2007: A 13-year-old spectator was killed after a sprint car flipped over a barrier at a Blenheim speedway. It was one of three serious speedway crashes within a month.

August 2002: A driver died after his mini-stock rolled at the Ellesmere speedway. A coroner found the car's safety equipment was deficient and pre-race checks cursory.