A couple of Los Jalops have spent a fair amount of time covering drag racing or hanging out with drag racers (or in Bumbeck's case, actually wrenching on Fuel cars). While the signal-to-signal, station to station contest is the provenence of any teenage hoon in any part of the world, it's one motorsport whose apex is a truly American thing. Quarter-mile competition was invented here. And while we've seen all kinds of amazing motorsport between us, there truly is nothing quite like a top-rank dragster burnout. Fuel cars may stoke the sense the most, but anything from Pro Stock on up is still pretty mind-blowing. And we have to say, we've been on the barrier during NHRA Fuel burnouts snapping photos, and it's seriously an exercise in fight or flight. It's an absolutely exhilarating experience for those lucky enough to experience it. As impressive as it is from the stands, being ten feet from a car with that much power as it willfully chews rubber to get hot? And that in the back of one's mind that there's a remote possibility that a chunk of the engine's reciprocating mass may shoot right through one's skull, reminiscent of that one scene in Glory? Total, body-wide rush. It may have been irresponsible for the Cars for Kids people to allow people at the big end of the burnout. But at the same time, you also can't blame people for wanting to be close to it. It's sad when the awesome turns tragic. Critchley/AMS statement after the jump.
"The entire AMS Racing Team is in deep mourning over the losses and pain suffered this weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families during this difficult time. We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic accident, which is compounded by the fact that it occurred during a charitable event designed to raise money for disabled children. We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the individuals that were injured or perished in the accident.
The team was asked to attend a charity event in Selmer, Tenn. to help raise money for the Cars For Kids charity and was told the organization had staged a charity car show for the past 18 years in which the drivers performed burnouts. The team sent its racing team to the event to display two racing cars — a '93 Corvette and a '57 Chevy — and planned to have each vehicle perform an exhibition burnout.
A burnout is a demonstration in which the driver spins the tires to create smoke and noise to demonstrate the ability of the car. The driver involved in the accident, Troy Critchley, is an experienced professional driver who had performed more than a 1,000 exhibition burnouts without incident prior to Saturday.
The team arrived in Selmer on Friday June 15, 2007. On Saturday the team displayed two cars for the public to view, and, after displaying the cars, the crew was instructed to line up with other cars participating in the event. After the parade was completed, Selmer Police Officers blocked off the highway for the cars to perform the burnouts. The team understands that the Selmer Police Chief, Neal Burks, was present and in charge of crowd placement and blocking off the street.
The drivers understood that the roadway had been inspected and approved for the burnout exhibition. Before Mr. Critchley began the exhibition, two Selmer police cars traveled down the left and right of the roadway and instructed the crowd to move back. Mr. Critchley was signaled to start and he began to perform the burnout. After a straight start, the car skidded off the road. Mr. Critchley did everything humanly possible to keep the car on the road, but unfortunately, there was nothing he could do.
Mr. Critchley was taken to the Emergency Room and treated for injuries he sustained in the accident. He voluntarily submitted blood for testing to the Tennessee Highway Patrol and it was confirmed he had no alcohol or drugs in his system. The entire crew remained in Selmer on Sunday, June 17 to cooperate and provide information to Tennessee State authorities investigating the accident.
The team has agreed for the involved car to remain in the possession of the Tennessee Highway Patrol for examination. Mr. Critchley was not arrested nor has he been given any indication he will be charged with a criminal offense. The team is cooperating with the State of Tennessee and is currently investigating a number of factors that may have contributed to the accident including crowd control, safety precautions and the preparation and condition of the roadway."
Spokesman for driver in Selmer accident issues statement [Jackson Sun]
>Tennesee Street Drag Race Kills Six Spectators [Internal]