As scary as Top Fuel racer Antron Brown’s fiery crash at Pomona was, it just might be the second most horrifying crash that took place over the weekend.
Half a world away in the Western Australia capital city of Perth at the Kwinana Motorplex, South African native jet dragster driver Pieter De Wit rode out a death-defying, high speed crash at the track’s Coates Hire Night of Fire event when the parachute on his mount, known as the Gravity Storm, failed at the finish stripe, sending the transplanted Australian into the sand trap with incredible force.
According to Australian news media sources, De Wit was traveling at more than 270 mph when he crossed Kwinana’s 1/4 mile finish stripe and the main parachute ripped away from the car. The speed at which De Wit was traveling left him little room for error in the situation, and you can see him quickly resort to locking up the brakes, as evidenced by the smoke off the front tires (unlike a typical dragster, jet dragsters have front brakes to help hold the car in place during burner pops and while the driver builds thrust on the starting line). If you watch closely, you’ll see what appears to be the front A-arms and/or the spindles failing under the extreme braking conditions, effectively dropping the nose down into the pavement.
Only mere yards before the sand trap does the secondary emergency parachute blossom behind the car — much too late to bring it to any sort of safe stop.
After plowing through the sand as though it’s not even there, De Wit strikes the standard issue safety net at the end of the sand trap, bringing him to an abrupt and fiery halt.
De Wit was extricated from the wreckage and flown by an RAC Rescue Chopper to the Royal Perth Hospital for evaluation. He was said to be alert and speaking with rescue personnel throughout the entire ordeal. Miraculously, he escaped with only minor injuries given the circumstances, with significant bruising and burns to his back and reportedly a fractured kneecap the only broken bone.