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It is never pleasant to report auto-related tragedies. Thats why it's particularly saddening to report the death of NHRA driver Scott Kalitta, who suffered a horrific crash during Funny Car qualifying at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ on Saturday. Witnesses pegged his speed to be in the range of 300 mph when his engine exploded, engulfing the car in flames. Kalitta was the '94 and '95 Top Fuel champion and his presence will certainly be missed in the NHRA. He is survived by his wife and two sons. We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Kalitta's family and friends. Thanks to all who sent tips.

[Source: The Star-Ledger]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is just sad and painful. Sorry to hear about something like this.

      May God give peace to all involved.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I saw it on Youtube, absolutely horrifying to watch. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the Kalitta's.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @redemptor:You're an IDIOT. Let's hope YOU get what you deserve...what a stupid thing to say.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I was a spectator at the finish line when this happened. Bottom line, the engine blew. It blew with such force that the windshield, roof, and many other body parts were blown 50 feet into the air. None of us saw the final crash because we were watching the flying pieces float towards us in the stands. After I figured out I wasn't going to get hit, I looked down the track and saw the huge fireball as he hit the back wall. The back half of the body was still at the finish line. I don't think he was concious after the initial explosion.
      These engines are 8,000 horsepower time bombs and just aren't safe. That's the allure of the sport. Until the NHRA starts making horsepower limits and getting the engines more reliable, this can still happen. Engine blowups happen quite frequently. Yes, there should have been a longer run out in the track but it wouldn't have been needed if the motor held together.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "People think there's just a wall at the end of the track at E-Town, which is a blatant fallacy. I've raced there enough in my life to know what it is. Its concrete barriers on either side, and a net at the end of the sand trap. The net is attached to concrete pillars. Theres nothing else that would hold up in an accident. Scott hit one of those pillars, NOT a 'WALL' at the end of the track as has been pandered around."

      From the horrific video it looked like a white wall. On ESPN today they showed a long shot of the shutdown area and it looked like a wall curved out from the side wall to about halfway across the end of the pit.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a shame.

      Just a few days ago, I came across some Funny Car racing on Speed. I thought to myself, how ridicules these cars are. How many years ago was it that Don Garlits "invented" the rear-engined dragster which was heralded as being so much safer, because it put the engine behind the driver, so that if it became a ball of flames, or blew up into a million pieces, it would all be behind the driver. Garlits did this as a result of an accident he had had, and the rest is history.

      I remember when Funny Cars were born. They started as modified stock cars with altered wheelbases and maybe fuel injection stacks sticking up out of the hood. They probably had 600 horsepower, at least until Jack Chrisman put a blower on his Comet. They've become, not "funny" cars, but Ridiculous Cars, possibly even worse than NASCAR's silly Nascars that have Ford or Chevy front-ends painted on them. Today's eight-thousand horsepower Funny Cars bear little resemblance to actual cars. In fact, all they are are front-engined dragsters with streamlined bodies painted up something like Ford's, Chevy's or, yes, even Toyotas.

      So now, a man has lost his life driving one of these cars in an NHRA race. Now NHRA has this to contend with. No one can say it happened at a little "outlaw" strip; it happened at a major NHRA race. What would Wally Parks think?

      These silly cars should be retired and the class abandoned. Let them drive real dragsters - rear-engined dragsters. But for the sake of the next driver to have an accident like this waiting for him, put the class to bed. And, no, don't even think of simply putting the engine in the rear, making "Funny" cars even more ridicules.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That run off is pathetic. For all of the "safety" reasons required by the NHRA to run TopFuel at said tracks wtf is that crap run off area about? I dont care how much it costs, if it saves lives do it. Sorry Kalitta but hopefully your death with save the lives of others. So it goes
      • 7 Years Ago
      Screw him. He put his life in danger every time he raced, and obviously didn't think enough about his family to get a safer job where you don't have a 50/50% chance of dying every day. Now the kids don't have a father and the wife is a widow. I feel bad for them, but not for him.

      I don't feel sad for anyone who chooses a dangerous profession such as racing, bull riding, crocodile hunting, etc. it was their choice and they knew the odds.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Race in Heaven Scott. This tribute was created for you. Share your memories in honor of this amazing man's life.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Who is next?

      The NHRA has had several wake up calls and not paid attention.

      There were several crashes there the cars and parts nearly went into the stand or like when the Top Fuel Tire. Wheel and Hub went over the stands at Memphis into the camper lot.

      We almost lost John Force last year and he should not be with us today. All they did was put a few extra bars in the car when top fuel and Funny Car both should have Carbon Fiber tubs to protect the drive.

      Most tracks including some of the best have little to no no run off areas, catch fences. protective barriers with openings in them.

      It is time for the drivers to ban together and go to the NHRA to demand track improvments. Also all of the big teams need to work with car builders to build a stronger more modern car to protect the drivers. The tube chassies they have today are so outdated it is crazy. The NHRA is running the car of yesterday. They have moretechnology in their fuel systems than they have has in 40 years of safety improvment

      I know it will cost money and effect the racing to a point.

      I know it well never be 100% safe as in any racing. But just how much is a life worth to try to protect it.

      It is time for the NHRA to realize if they want to run speed over 330 MPH then start improving the tracks and equipment form their 150 MPH origins.

      To have put a run off area with just a little sand and concreate berrier is just ludicrist!

      As I see if Tub the cars with Indy car like tubs, Lengthen the tracks or slow the cars down if you don't want to improve the tracks. Also Fan safety needs to be address. How long till a car or a part of a car goes into the stands. Even the MLB has a fence behind home plate.

      God take care of Scotts Family and God have mercy on the next driver we lose.

      NHRA wake up you have made this mess now do something to try to fix it. NAscar pais the price with several drivers a few years ago now it is your turn.

      I am Sorry for my rant but I have been mad for a long time on this and am tired of seeing driver lost that might have had at least a chance to go home at the end of the weekend.

      NHRA at least give them a chance as Scotty never has a chance after half track.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well said Scott.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Dude your so misinformed. Nothing is outdated on the F/C. The track maybe but not the car itself.Like a guy said were at the end of technology for speed and E.T. Parts are the best money can buy,along with materials. Look at Earnhart and what looked as a simple wall ding took his life with nothing in his way! It JUST HAPPENED. Dont start giving the sport a black eye just as its growing to new levels for fans. Ive been racing Super Stock in a 10 second Camaro since Lions Dragstip was in opperation. 40 years has passed with very few casualities. Millions have recently been spent by Force and many others to make this sport the safest it can be.
        • 7 Years Ago
        That's exactly how I feel about complacency in motorsports, there is just zero room for it. And you are absolutely correct that a lot more can be done for the spectator safety, and the drivers.

        I have never seen such an intense explosion from a blown engine. That has to be looked at as well.

        On second thought, sand is not the way to go, more often cars just skip over it as they catch air underneath it. Same with grass. Just like Greg Moore's accident.

        Outdated venues have no place on racing schedule.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Die?? thats what you get? Your an idiot.....
      • 7 Years Ago
      public road behind the trees...

      They could stop traffic whenever a car is coming down the track which they do at another facility... I know it's sounds a little crazy but it has been done. They could post detour for traffic. I don't remember how major that road is so depending on that it may not be an option. Otherwise I don't know how they can fix this track unless they design the lower shut down area to go under the street without effecting traffic at all.

        • 7 Years Ago
        This is how its done at Maple Grove. My father was the VP/GM there until the end of this past season, and now he's at Moroso in FL, but at Maple Grove, theres shutdown, a road, and on the other side of the road is the shutdown area, after which is a net, and a swamp on the otherside of that. In the late 80's (87 maybe?) Kenny Bernstein had a smiliar explosion, etc as Kalitta's yesterday. He went over the road, through the sand trap, there wasn't a net at this point, and came to rest in the swamp where the car burned to the ground.
        But I digress, there is a gate not unlike a rail road crossing that the security guard at the end of the track closes the barrier when theres cars running.
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