Cars Gone Wild: Ten Crazy Dragstrip Videos

How did we ever get by before YouTube? How did we document every moment of our lives, no matter how embarrassing, and share those moments with complete strangers and invite them to write comments with terrible grammar and spelling? We were like animals, living in caves, if you ask me. Fortunately, those days are over, and if it happens anywhere in public today, somebody is taking video of it. Dignity’s loss is our gain, though – Here are ten of our favorite drag racing videos, harvested from many hours spent browsing when we should have been working.

#10 – I meant to do that!

A third-gen Camaro does a big bumper stand, almost barrel rolls, comes down hard and barely misses the Mustang he’s racing, but still manages to straighten it out and run a high-11 at 136. Too bad we have to deduct points for that center line violation…

#9 – Like a 747 taking off

ZMax Dragway, the nation’s first four-lane NHRA championship facility, has gotten mixed reviews so far when it comes to track prep. So what do you do if there’s an issue with traction? Run cars that don’t need to hook up to go 300 MPH, and run them four-wide, like they did last year at the combined NMRA/NMCA event, that’s what!

#8 – Don’t forget to come back and finish-weld after you’ve tacked it

If you have to drive over your own rear end, right on the starting line is the place to do it. It’s all good, but the best part is the driver’s look of astonishment when he gets out and sees what’s happened.

Bonus! – It’s a little harder on the car when it happens at mid-track thanks to a broken driveshaft:

#7 – “I fought the wall, and the wall won”

Ellen Pavao had a pretty nice Outlaw 10.5 first-gen Camaro. Had – past tense. Here’s a free tip from your friends at Dragzine: When your GPS navigation says, “At the tree, turn hard left,” you should probably ignore it.

#6 – Your body will heal; the camera will not

The videographer at the 2009 Tomato Nats at Immokalee Dragstrip in Florida deserves hazardous duty pay – you can tell the exact moment when he bails to get out of the debris field by the way the camera slowly pans downward. Bonus points for coming right back to grab it off the tripod and keep shooting once the car goes by, though!

#5 – Like valet parking in New York

Sometimes, the crash comes to you – when Tony Johnson and Steve Kirk tangled in Huntsville in 2006, the cameraman didn’t have to move an inch to shoot the aftermath.

#4 – Some tracks are just snakebit

Fram Autolite Dragway in Meremere, New Zealand is apparently somewhat notorious. First, we learn that there’s nowhere to go when you’re a cameraman shooting from a scaffold on the top end and something goes wrong, then we see what happens when the Black and White Stigs’ love child gets into his own oil. Finally, new school meets old school, literally, when a Supra comes unglued at the top end.

Bonus! – The Kiwis don’t have a lock on marginal racing facilities. Here’s a “greatest hits” compilation from ADRL competition at Radford, Virginia, where they could probably use a little more shutdown room.

#3 – I’ll just get out here, if you don’t mind

Back when shoebox Chevys were still “late model” cars, safety equipment wasn’t quite up to today’s standards. In this classic clip, Don Renfro gets to watch the last few seconds of his own crash from trackside.

#2 – That will buff right out!

Jeremy Martorella manages to keep his Mustang off the walls in Commerce, Georgia, but that won’t save the finish on the side of the car. “It’s a clutchless five-speed; if you lift, it automatically pops back into Neutral. I did the same wheelstand in Orlando and lifted,” he explains. “It came down and destroyed the front wheels, both strut towers, oil pan, oil pump, the K-member, and headers. I’d been through a bunch of wheelstands before, so I was thinking as long as I was going straight, I’d be okay. When it didn’t come down after I put it in Fifth, I thought, ‘Uh-oh.'” The amazing thing is that it only took two and a half hours to fix the damage overnight, and was back in action the next day. “The next morning, the tech guys’ jaws dropped. They inspected everything and gave me a bye run to make sure everything was all right. It went 6.03 for qualifying, 5.99 in eliminations, and we made it to the semifinals.”

1# – Pop goes the manifold

You can’t have a list of drag racing’s greatest YouTube hits without having Jeff Rodgers’ Shakedown at E-Town Pro Mod nitrous explosion at the top. Work-safety warning – if you’re at the office, you might want to put on the headphones if your co-workers are adverse to a few totally appropriate swear words.

Bonus! – Another camera angle of the same incident. Extra credit for timing how long it takes for the hood scoop to land and doing the math to figure out how high it went.

About the author

Paul Huizenga

After some close calls on the street in his late teens and early twenties, Paul Huizenga discovered organized drag racing and never looked back, becoming a SFI-Certified tech inspector and avid bracket racer. Formerly the editor of OverRev and Race Pages magazines, Huizenga set out on his own in 2009 to become a freelance writer and editor.
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