Packing an 8,000 horsepower punch and traveling at speeds that have exceeded 260 mph on unforgiving water, Top Fuel Hydroplanes are inherently and unequivocally the most maniacal form of racing machine on the planet, and this incident is a prime example of such, albeit an incredibly rare occurrence in and of itself.
During the Showdown in San Angelo over the weekend, the second stop on the 2012 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series schedule in San Angelo, Tex., Jeff Gregory, pilot of the Whiskey River II Top Fuel Hydro, found himself in one of the hairiest situations we’ve ever seen in drag boat racing — and that’s really saying a lot.
Gregory, on a solo run on the 1000-feet of liquid on Lake Nasworthy, got out of shape around mid-track and drifted toward the far right edge of the lane, eventually striking one of the finish line marker buoys at the conclusion of the run. That, however, was just the beginning of this ride that had Gregory using the skills of a rodeo cowboy moreso than a drag boat pilot.
With the Whiskey River II headed for the shore at a high rate of speed, Gregory was able to wrangle the machine away from a direct shot into the trackside dock, but in one of the wildest scenes we or any drag boat aficionado has ever witnessed, struck an unmanned jet ski tied to the dock, jumped over it and struck another parked jet ski along the bank, and narrowly missed another with a rider onboard.
If you pause the video at the 19-second mark, you’ll actually see the last jet ski rider hauling the mail and ducking for cover as the Whiskey River II invades the shore area with authority.
Miraculously, no one was hurt was in this exciting melee, and the Whiskey River II, despite a rather forceful impact with two static jet skis that typically weigh around 700-800 pounds, actually returned to the lake and went all the way to the final, where Gregory fell to Jarrett Silvey in the Speed Sport Special.