Guards at the nuclear weapons plant, a primary storehouse for bomb-grade uranium, said the man "appeared to be impaired in some way" when they stopped him around 5 a.m. at a security checkpoint near a rear entrance, spokesman Bill Wilburn said.
They asked him for identification, but the man hit the gas and drove through the checkpoint Wilburn said.
"When he hit that, he jumped out of the car and ran away. He left the car there with the engine still running," Wilburn said. He said the guards told him the car had been hot-wired.
Wilburn said no weapons were in the car. "They checked the car very thoroughly before they moved it. They found nothing," he said.
Oak Ridge police were searching for the driver.
Steve Wyatt, spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration in Oak Ridge, which oversees the Y-12 plant, downplayed the crash, saying it was "next to nothing." The plant makes and dismantles uranium parts in nuclear warheads.