Suffering through a catastrophic racing crash is a difficult experience for any competitor and can take years to recover from. Veteran Top Alcohol Funny Car racer DJ Cox knows this all too well after his horrific crash at New York’s Lebanon Valley Dragway in 2018. Even after a second crash at the Gatornationals a year later, Cox kept pushing forward and was ultimately rewarded for his perseverance..
The Lebanon Valley Dragway crash was truly a violent affair for Cox that left him with minor injuries and a demolished race car. According to Cox, after he reviewed the data log he still couldn’t decipher exactly what happened. The car knocked the tire off in an odd way and just sent it toward the wall so quickly that he couldn’t recover.
In need of a new car, Cox went to Murf McKinney and commissioned a fresh chassis to be fabricated. When the car was completed, Cox suited up and made his return to the track to do what he loves: race a Top Alcohol Funny Car. Unfortunately, his trip to the Gatornationals didn’t go as planned and ended with another damaged racecar.
“The car left good and hard with the wheels in the air but it started to drift towards the centerline. I quickly pedaled the car while it was out of the groove and you just can’t do that in these cars today. The whole crash was driver error and one of the things you learn not to do the hard way. With these new cars having such stiff chassis, different bodies, and so much horsepower, you can’t drive them the same at all. These bodies don’t have the same level of aerodynamics the old Monte Carlo bodies did…the car drives more like a Pro Mod versus an Alcohol Funny Car,” Cox says.
When Cox and his team examined the car they realized it wasn’t nearly as bad as it appeared. The front half of the chassis folded up like it was supposed to and absorbed most of the damage. Cox sent the chassis back to McKinney, who put it on the jig, gave it a clean bill of health, and proceeded to put a new front half on it. The Camaro body was sent back to Five Star Bodies where it received the same treatment and was returned to Cox good as new.
Experiencing two tough crashes would be enough to make some racers contemplate hanging up their helmet, but DJ Cox isn’t that racer. When the car was back in fighting shape Cox and his team loaded up with an open mindset so they could tame the supercharged beast.
“The car handled and ran great after we got it put back together, so that’s made this a lot easier. Every race we go to our goal is to do well and try to win. We went to six final rounds in 10 races but just never seemed like we could get over that hump to pick up the win. Thankfully, our hard work paid off and we got the win at the JEGS SPEEDweek event,” Cox states.
DJ Cox and his team are the perfect example of a dedicated sportsman racing team. They faced two separate on-track incidents without backing down and continued to work toward their goals. The Wally that Cox was awarded for his recent victory is proof that hard work and a never-say-die attitude will always pay off in drag racing.