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NHRA Death Toll @ 5 for 12 years

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Posted over 8 years ago


     During the past 12 years, starting in August 31, 1996 the following drivers Have been killed by varying means of race associated mishaps that led to there eventual demise. (08-31-96  Blaine Johnson  AA/FUEL dragster ) , (06-27-04  Darrell Russell  AA/FUEL dragster ) , (04-02-05  Shelly Howard  FUEL/ Funny Car) , (03-23-07  Eric Medlin  FUEL/Funny Car)  , (06-21-08  Scott Kalitta  FUEL/Funny Car) .  The deaths of all these NHRA Drivers was the cause of either High Impact collision at over 300M.P.H. , or Motor Explosion resulting in Fire.  It is without a doubt a very dangerous sport to be involved in but some Safety Factors have been cast aside because of MONITERY COSTS. The latest death was Scott Kalitta , resulting from catastrophic engine explosion at over 300M.P.H., resulting in parachute deployment failure because of the burning oil and fuel, then the main problem. Collision with a STATIONARY Jersey Barrier at the end of the shut off area that is preceded by sand at a much too short of distance for adequate safety.

During the 1966 season I was running against Shirley Muldowney at Lebanon Valley New York in the finals for Street Eliminator. She was driving a B/Gas Dragster , and I was driving a D/Sports Corvette. My top end was 114.00 M.P.H. at the traps , Shirleys' was just around 200 M.P.H. . The shut down area was about 1/8th mile long with a cyclone fence at the end leading to a cow pasture and trees. I had a real hard time stopping in that short of distance , Shirley was up against the cyclone fence. Well things have changed for the better on some important safety measures, but now Old Bridge Township Raceway Park has proven that more shut down area is not only required but should be mandatory.

Blaine Johnson , abrupt left turn into Jersey Barrier just after the traps at over 300 .

Darrell Russell, High Speed Tire Explosion at the traps at over 300.

Shelly Howard , Fire on Starting line from catastrophe motor explosion.

Erick Medlen , Catastrophic motor failure at the traps resulting in fire and collision with Jersey Barrier at over 300.

Scott Kalitta , Catastrophic motor failure at the traps resulting in fire after going thrue sand bunker then striking Jersey Barrier at over 300.

  When Blaine Johnson was killed in 1996 , I talked with a friend of mine Mr. Norman Drazy at  P.S.I. Blowers in Arizona . He is the inventor of the non root, four hole blower. We spent about three hours discussing how NHRA could reduce injuries and deaths. We came up with many solutions but ALL SANCTIONING BODIES of drag racing came up with same complaint MONEY. NASCAR is the only group to change over to flexible retaining walls (rubber filled with water). My own suggestion of using the SOFT CONCRETE in the shut down EXTENTION after the traps. Soft concrete is what is used on commercial air port run ways at the end of the normal runway and is very soft so it slow-es you down as if you were stuck in the mud. Too Expensive to repair after damaged by stopping vehicles.


Glory earned on the field of battle , can never be taken away , you take it with you to the grave. Quote by General George Armstrong Custer