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Flying tire kills fan at NHRA race

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Moderator1, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member



    I covered an NHRA event near here one year when an exploding engine sent a part into some fan's head. The guy was sent to the hospital but eventually A-OK.
  2. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Why does this seem like an annual story?

    Maybe not just limited to NHRA, but doesn't it seem like people are killed every year by bouncing tires or flying parts?
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Saw the video on Sportscenter this morning... pretty nasty wreck, with te car going sideways along the center divider and oil spilling out of the engine...
  4. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    A good friend of mine was doing PR for this event. He figured weather would be the biggest headache this weekend.

    Scary as hell the way the wheel just flew off. I don't know how you avoid that, though -- wheel tethers probably won't do much when it's that big and has that much torque.
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Very scary. I've seen that kind of crash before where a wheel comes off but rebounds off a wall and just goes down track. This thing hopped the wall and continued bounding maybe 30 feet in the air. Like PC said, I don't think a tether is possible.

    The driver, Antron Brown, is a terrific guy. Hate for any driver to have to carry that burden.
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    This reminds me a lot of the 1987 Indy 500, where a spectator was killed by a flying tire. It came off one car and went up the nose of the other (I think it was off of Roberto Guerrero's car and up the nose of Tony Bettenhausen's), and ended up hitting a fan in the top row in a corner of one of the highest stands of the track. Not long after, open-wheel required tethers on tires so this wouldn't happen again.
  7. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    A very sad story. I had the pleasure of photographing NHRA a couple of times when the national series visited the Seattle area. It's an incredible feeling when the cars roar right past you. Groundshaking is far too gentle a term. TV simply can't adequately convey the experience.
    That said, I covered those races before I got married. I don't know if I would want to now. I would say drag racing is easily one of the most dangerous sports for a photographer. Quite often photogs are clumped together near the starting line for the launch shots. If something goes wrong at the launch and parts get strewn, you'd better be praying. And as yesterday showed, it's not just the people directly alongside the track that have to be worried.
  8. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, it still happens, though. Like PC said, there's not much that can be done. Tethers help, but they aren't fail-safe.
  9. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    I thought the wheel tethers came to be after a wheel killed spectators at the 1999 IRL race in Charlotte? Seems like shortly after that NASCAR also started requiring wheel tethers. But like others have said, nothing is fail safe, especially in NHRA when you're talking thousands of horsepower.
  10. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    You're right -- I misremembered that 1987 and 1999 are a little more than two years apart.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Saw the video again tonight on SportsCenter (the only way the NHRA can get on SC is with terrible crashes, which I'm sure thrills the league) ... after the wheel snapped off it lagged behind, briefly, as the dragster turned sideways. Then the wheel caught up to the chassis and hit in a way which launched it airborne. Hadn't really noticed that the first time I saw the crash.

    Without something to hit, the wheel probably stays close to the ground, within the lanes and continues downtrack safely. Talk about an unthinkable series of events. This version of the video also showed the wheel continuing to bounce away high and fast into what appeared to be a vendor or pit area. Pretty chilling.
  12. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    Wheel tethers would do nothing for a dragster or funny car. They're putting roughly 8,000 horses from the engine to the track through the rear wheels.
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