The 36-year-old Hammond was driving a jet dragster, similar to the British land speed record-holding Vampire, in the neighborhood of 300 mph when he crashed on Wednesday. Observers said that Hammond had successfully completed several runs when a possible problem with the car's drag chutes caused the car to veer off the airport runway onto the grass verge and crash. The BBC and the government's Health and Safety Executive have already begun crash investigations.
It's likely that the accident will renew criticism of Top Gear and its high profile car stunts. In 1999 a group of Members of Parliament slammed the popular show for being "obsessed with acceleration and speed," while only last year a lobby group demanded that the show be shut down, saying it was "glamorizing speed and failing to make the connection with danger on the roads."
Even by Top Gear's liberal standards, 300 mph in a jet car seems an extreme assignment for any journalist. Everyone here at Autoblog wishes Hammond a full and speedy recovery.