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View Full Version : Off topic, but many BR shooters used to race........



bryan
06-21-2008, 07:23 PM
Scott Kalitta was killed this afternoon after a huge engine explosion in the lights at Englishtown. The car went thru the sand trap, safety net and into the trees.
BA

Dave Short
06-21-2008, 08:19 PM
Bryan,

I worked on the Safety Safari "turn around" crew in the late '80's. The nitro cars are incredible in a lot of ways, including their being incredibly dangerous. The nastiest thing I remember was the helpless feeling of watching a car burn and knowing the driver was in there, and they couldn't get the body off.............the one that inspired the hole in each FC window. The hole is called the Dudley hole, and is there so that the driver can be hosed down with water if he doesn't make it out on his own. The driver was Ron Dudley of St. Moritz, CA. He was in terrible shape and, although he survived, it was months before he could be transported from Columbus, OH to his home. He was blinded and severely disabled by his burns.

The officials determined that the blower explosion that set the fire also knocked him unconcious, therefore he could not pull the extinguishers or hit the chute & brakes. My first thought when I saw Scott Kalitta go off the end so fast was "I wonder if he was knocked out".

I'm a former racer and a lifelong fan, and as much as I hate to say it...........most of the shut-down areas are too short, the sand trap & beyond are usually not appropriate. and the cars are flying. In fact, in the late "80's the organization was concerned about the cars nearing and breaking the 300 mph mark. They limited the gear ratios, but the racers just let the engines rev up that much more. Now they're going 330 mph. Englishtown wasn't considered to have adequate shut-down even back then..........20 years and 30 mph ago..........

I'm sorry to see Scott gone; his family is in our prayers.
-Dave-

bryan
06-21-2008, 08:36 PM
It's good to hear from someone so closely acquainted with the sport and it's dangers. I started racing nearly 40 years ago and endured the deaths of Don Grothier, Lee Shepard, John Hagen (all Pro Stock Drivers) and it always hits home when an accident happens. The safety of the sport is fantastic, but there is always a risk involved.
I hope the family can cope with this loss.
Bryan

Steve Shelp
06-21-2008, 08:56 PM
I've been into asphalt oval track racing most of my life. Truely sorry to hear about the loss of another racer. It's never an easy thing to deal with.

Dave Short,
Last year after Force's accident we had a little discussion about that incident... was the true cause of why John chassis broke ever determined that you know of? Was it poor heat treatment of the chrome-moly tubing like was originally suspected?

Also going back to Scott's accident.... I thought that if the body blew off a FC that the chutes automatically deployed? Is that true or did the chutes/chords simply burn off in Scott's cause? I have only seen one replay of the accident so I haven't been able to analyze anything yet myself.

Steve

TomD
06-21-2008, 08:57 PM
Ever seen the movie "Heart Like a Wheel"?

Dave Short
06-21-2008, 08:58 PM
The safety of the sport is fantastic, but there is always a risk involved.

Bryan

The risk is a know factor...........The cars go really fast, and everything else (especially big hard stuff) is sitting completely still.

-Dave-

bryan
06-21-2008, 09:00 PM
I have not even seen a replay, but if the chassis separated in front of the chute anchoring position, the rest of the car is on it's own.

Dave Short
06-21-2008, 09:07 PM
Dave Short,
Last year after Force's accident we had a little discussion about that incident... was the true cause of why John chassis broke ever determined that you know of? Was it poor heat treatment of the chrome-moly tubing like was originally suspected?
Steve

I know there were some questions raised, but I never heard anything final about it............The chassis issue kind of disappeared into the noise.

I do remember that Kenny Bernstein got over on the centerline just before the lights and hit a cone. The cone appeared to shoot straight into the side of Force's car.................that is the instant that all hell broke loose. I wonder if a rubber highway cone could upset the car at well over300 mph. It sure does seem possible...........

-Dave-

bryan
06-21-2008, 09:12 PM
I've thought of the same thing, but can't tell if John's car came apart at the exact instant the cone hit or what. I can't imagine a cone causing the accident.........there just isn't enough mass there..........but then again, things are stressed to the max at 300+ and that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
BA

crb
06-21-2008, 09:17 PM
The chutes on Kalitta's car did not inflate. I don't know if they ended up wound up with one another or what but they would have only slowed the car slightly.

Just not near enough runoff area. Really ought to have 150 feet or more of sand trap. 300 feet might not have been enough in this case.

Dave Short
06-21-2008, 09:21 PM
I've thought of the same thing, but can't tell if John's car came apart at the exact instant the cone hit or what. I can't imagine a cone causing the accident.........there just isn't enough mass there..........but then again, things are stressed to the max at 300+ and that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
BA

I picture all of the chassis tubes bowed to the Nth degree, then one gets whacked by a several-pound cone that was propelled by another 300 mph plus race car...........That is the extent of my SWA-guess.

The only sure thing is that we'll probably never know.

-Dave-:)

crb
06-21-2008, 09:31 PM
Tonight Mike Dunn did a segment on the changes to the FC chassis. He said on Force's car that they 'think' the upper rail[s] broke just in front of the steering shaft mounting crossmember and then the lower tubes failed just in front of the forward rollbar tube intersection.

jackie schmidt
06-21-2008, 10:11 PM
All of us that have raced in our lifetimes understand that getting seriously injured, or even killed, is a part of the game. I crashed my Boat twice, and got hurt really bad once. It is when I darned near died in 1982, when I went off of my "High Gear Only" fuel Harley at 3/4 track, and when they finally put me back together, that I realized that I lost that what ever it is that allows us to do that.
All of our best wishes go out to the Kallitta familly, but Connie of all people knows that every time you decide to get into one of those things, you just might die in a matter of seconds.
I personally saw 4 men die during my Boat Racing Days. I was at Lake Liberty getting ready to race when Dan Pastorini lost controle of his Blown Fuel Boat and went into the crowd, killing two and maiming several others. While racing the Bike, I saw Earnie Rife loose the front wheel on his Fueler and center punch the guard rail, resulting in his death.
As safe as they try to make it, the human body can only take so much. It is a miracle that John Force is even alive, since that crash last year did just about everything but kill him. That is one reason I hate to see that pretty daughter of his in one of those things. Judging from the way she conducts interviews, I have a gut feeling that she would rather be doing something else. I can't be the only one who has noticed this.
This too, will pass. It's a shame, but as long as men and women are willing to tempt death, and thrill the crowd, we will be watching, and cheering. It's the nature of the beast.........jackie

Pete Wass
06-21-2008, 10:37 PM
for a number of years. I witnessed the death of a friend @ Hagerstown and never had the nads to go fast after that. Guess old age finally overtook the go fast in me. It's damn sad and chilling when we see it happen but then it is an assumed risk. I am thankful that I have survived all that I have endured over the years but it was a thrill when I was doing it. Nothing quite as exciting as sliding sideways and picking up traction just before the wall reaches out for ya though. ;)

sbindy
06-21-2008, 10:50 PM
was where I was standing when it happened. I work on Melanie Troxel's Funny Car and was standing next to teammate Mike Ashley's car waiting to see it run. As it was only 2 pair back, I was watching to see where the other cars at the front would end up as Mike was as of then, not in the show.
We saw the explosion that ripped the body off andf as pieces went flying into the air, we could still see Scott's car on the big screen. It was going at incredible speed when it hit the sandtrap and from the far end camera, you could see that it launched when it hit the sandtrap, and then the video quit. That was when the car hit the video platform(crane) at the end of the track.
After seeing the replay on ESPN, you could see that the parachutes came out, but didnt open up. They were just flailing behind the car.
Afterwards, there was no word of Scott's condition, and that is always a bad sign. If a driver is ok they are always quick to point it out.
I wont comment on the wreckage because I did not see it afterward.
I can only offer my condolences to the Kalitta family and their friends.

jackie schmidt
06-21-2008, 11:10 PM
Did you Drag Race a Bike??.....jackie

crb
06-22-2008, 06:46 AM
Jackie,
I don't agree with you about Ashley Force's desire to be in the seat of a funny car. She grew up at the track and has been there when people have died [ I just thought of Eric Medlin, I was really thinking of 10 or 15 years ago ]. She's been through engine fires, she's clouted the wall, she's been through all the ups and downs that is drag racing.

Only someone with a real desire in their heart to drive a funny car would get back in one after a big fire or a wall banging incident. I also don't think John would force her to drive and I am damn sure Mrs. Force would not allow her to drive unless Ashley REALLY wanted to.

Dave Short
06-22-2008, 08:25 AM
Jackie,

I've noticed that same hesitation that you mention. I've never been able to tell whether it is about being in the car or if she's just being careful what she says in the interview.

-Dave-

eww1350
06-22-2008, 09:05 AM
As I was watching the replay on ESPN2..I saw the car explode into a fireball and continue to accelerate to the sand pit...but some thing else...the end of the retaining (concrete) wall curves around in front of the right lane and becomes a barrier...the sand trap has a net at the end of it, but I could have sworn his car exploded when it went thru the net into the curved retaining wall...I think from the force of the motor explosion that the driver was unconscious..

crb
06-22-2008, 09:25 AM
Fuel cars don't carry enough fuel to run wide open much past the finish line. Blown up engines don't accelerate, just the opposite. He was not going 300 mph when he reached the end of the pavement as some stories have said. The camera angles and lens lengths make it hard to judge speed.

He WAS going plenty fast enough for it to be unsurvivable. The main failure is the homologation of a track with insufficient length and a wall at the end. Everything else was just unfortunate luck, which happens and can't be accounted for in rules making.

A few years back there was an incident in which a funny car hit the wall in a glancing blow which knocked out the driver. The car continued down the track against the wall accelerating at the normal high rpm idle. Eventually the car hit a gap in the wall or made it to the sandtrap where a violent crash occurred. I don't think the driver was badly injured but I can't remember the specifics or the driver's name.

What I am saying is that if the driver is knocked out bad things happen because due to the nature of the cars and the tracks eventually the car is going to come to a quick halt.

457ciSBC
06-22-2008, 11:37 AM
He WAS going plenty fast enough for it to be unsurvivable. The main failure is the homologation of a track with insufficient length and a wall at the end. Everything else was just unfortunate luck, which happens and can't be accounted for in rules making.


What I am saying is that if the driver is knocked out bad things happen because due to the nature of the cars and the tracks eventually the car is going to come to a quick halt.


Well, E-Town like Richmond(Dinwiddie) has just about the longest shutdown areas of any of the NHRA tracks, east coast anyway. However, with E-Town just beyond the sand trap there's a wall with a road behind it, with a home on the other side. Kalitta passed through 3 nets, smacked the steel structure which secured the last net on the right side and the video platform, with the remaining making contact with the retaining wall.

I'm a firm believer that those both TF and FC classes needs to be slowed down or only run at 1/8th mile. In the last 40 years the speeds have increased 125 MPH, but in many cases the tracks haven't kept up.


When there's catastrophic engine failure, which includes some degree of chassis structure degradation, look for anything to happen, even in a mid 8 sec, 160 MPH car.


This game is inherently dangerous, not only in the pro classes but in sportsman racing as well. In some of these outlaw classes there's guys running 180+ MPH on small tire drag radials and twin turbo, 3000lb cars at over 210 MPH.

RIP

LASER
06-22-2008, 04:32 PM
All of us that have raced in our lifetimes understand that getting seriously injured, or even killed, is a part of the game. I crashed my Boat twice, and got hurt really bad once. It is when I darned near died in 1982, when I went off of my "High Gear Only" fuel Harley at 3/4 track, and when they finally put me back together, that I realized that I lost that what ever it is that allows us to do that.
All of our best wishes go out to the Kallitta familly, but Connie of all people knows that every time you decide to get into one of those things, you just might die in a matter of seconds.
I personally saw 4 men die during my Boat Racing Days. I was at Lake Liberty getting ready to race when Dan Pastorini lost controle of his Blown Fuel Boat and went into the crowd, killing two and maiming several others. While racing the Bike, I saw Earnie Rife loose the front wheel on his Fueler and center punch the guard rail, resulting in his death.
As safe as they try to make it, the human body can only take so much. It is a miracle that John Force is even alive, since that crash last year did just about everything but kill him. That is one reason I hate to see that pretty daughter of his in one of those things. Judging from the way she conducts interviews, I have a gut feeling that she would rather be doing something else. I can't be the only one who has noticed this.
This too, will pass. It's a shame, but as long as men and women are willing to tempt death, and thrill the crowd, we will be watching, and cheering. It's the nature of the beast.........jackie
I thought the very same thing about the Force girl.
Your comment about us all knowing and understanding (those of us who chose to go very fast, motorcycles/sports cars in my case)the risks never rung true with me. If I had understood and thought about it, I never would have grabbed too much air or went into a corner too fast. How the !@#$ am I gonna land this !@#$ is not the appropriate time to have those epiphanies. Probally getting crippled early saved my life.
LASER

Pete Wass
06-22-2008, 05:06 PM
Did you Drag Race a Bike??.....jackie

In Japan while stationed there but here in the early 70's I raced Moto Cross and Flat track bikes for several years.

Pops Yoshumara (SP?) shop was right outside the gateat the base I was statione at; before they came to the states. I'm an old timer.

Don
06-22-2008, 05:27 PM
I have never raced, but just looking at pictures of the initial explosive force of the engine failure, and subsequent separation of body paneling makes you wonder how anyone could survive the first shockwave and engine shrapnel, much less the remaining ride thru sand traps, catch nets, and other barriers/obstructions.

Truly not a sport for the weak of heart or spirit...............Don


http://i2.cdn.turner.com/si/2008/racing/more/06/21/bc.car.nhra.driverkille.ap/NHRA.death.jpg?