While it’s never great to see a nasty crash in motorsport, it’s especially terrifying when it comes to the Top Fuel class in NHRA. The narrow, pointed machines are designed to be the fastest sanctioned category of drag racing, which means they’re frequently broaching at least 300 miles per hour. Thankfully, after nasty crashes at this weekend’s Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals, three drivers were able to walk away unhurt: Top Fuel racer Leah Pruett, Pro Stock racer Kenny Delco, and Funny Car racer Alexis DeJoria.
As Pruett accelerated off the start line, the front of her chassis began to buckle at its weakest point. It was enough force to snap the car in half and send it spinning into the air. Pruett’s parachute launched after the car broke, which slowed her to a stop. As commentators noted, that’s the kind of accident that just doesn’t happen nowadays.
Almost as soon as the machine stopped, Pruett was able to exit the cockpit. She seemed fully rattled but didn’t look to sustain any injuries.
If you want to watch the video, you can check it out on the NHRA website. We won’t post it here for those who don’t.
Hers wasn’t the only wild accident during the weekend. Pro Stock driver Kenny Delco lost control as his car crossed the line. He crashed into the retaining wall and flipped. When his parachute deployed, it saw his car flip a few more times before coming to a rest. He, too, walked away without injury. (That video is available here.)
In the Funny Car class, Alexis DeJoria also walked away after the body of her car disintegrated at the end of her run in the shutdown area. The car stayed on its wheels, but it wavered side-to-side and looked tough to control. She, too, was able to exit the car under her own power. (Again, you can watch that video here.)
It’s a testament to the ever-increasing safety of the NHRA cars. Chassis and cockpits are growing ever stronger, nitromethane levels in fuel have been reduced in order to prevent fires, parachutes automatically deploy in the event of an accident—the list goes on and on. Had Pruett’s accident—or Delco’s, or DeJoria’s—happened just 10 years ago, we might be looking at a vastly different outcome.