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Another loss for racing. RIP Scott Kalitta.

20 November 2007
Puyallup, WA
I'm surprised nobody has posted this yet. I know this community isn't so much into NHRA, but across the world of motorsport I think we are all bound together by a love for cars, racing, and striving for victory.

Scott Kalitta passed on yesterday after an accident in the final round of qualifying in Englishtown, NJ. I'm not sure what caused it, but his car burst into flames at 300mph, and crashed into a concrete wall at the end of the track.


I saw this crash on TV. What happened here? The car exploded and knocked him out so he couldn't bring the car to a stop before crashing? Why isn't there a safety device in place that applies the breaks in the event the driver is unconscious?
Main reason I didn't post about it is the flames you usually get for even mentioning drag racing.

Engine grenaded at the finish line, blowing the body off. The chutes are designed to deploy when this happens, but they never fully blossomed. This particular racetrack is an older track with less run-off than other tracks and not much of a sand pit at the end. So with no chutes and the possibility he may have been unconscious (not that he could have done much anyways. The brakes are not much help at 300MPH+), the higher speed impact with the end of the track ruptured the fuel cell (located in the front of the car) and it ignited from the engine fire that hadn't gone out yet.

There's an engine fire like this almost every race, head gaskets giving way, supercharger pops, etc. and very rarely is it anything more than a financial and time consuming inconvenience. This was a freak accident, but just like Eric Medlen's death last year and Darrell Russell's back in 2004, the sport will end up being safer because of it. There have been some horrific crashes in this sport over the years with drivers walking away unscathed. This was just one of those deals where things went just wrong enough in several areas to not be a survivable crash.
I would assume after the initial explosion he was not conscious, however, they say he may have lived if the car hit the netting at the end. Since he could not steer into the netting, the parachute did not work, the car hit one of the main poles that hold up the netting and they say the impact w/ the ploe is what most likely killed him. Just tragic to watch. His family was from my area of Michigan. :frown: RIP................