Off topic, but many BR shooters used to race........
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ever seen the movie "Heart Like a Wheel"?
The risk is a know factor...........The cars go really fast, and everything else (especially big hard stuff) is sitting completely still.
Originally Posted by bryan
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.
I know there were some questions raised, but I never heard anything final about it............The chassis issue kind of disappeared into the noise.
Originally Posted by Steve Shelp
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...........
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by bryan
The only sure thing is that we'll probably never know.
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.
Part Of The Sport
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 raced bikes
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.
Right behind it
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.