Driving an open cockpit, front engine Fuel Altered is inarguably one of the more dangerous undertakings in drag racing, but on Tuesday, the only thing at the Alaska Raceway Park more dangerous than piloting a Fuel Altered was filming one. Not just dangerous, but it could have been downright tragic.
To celebrate Independence Day, the scenic Alaska strip held a special event featuring its Top Eliminator and Quick 8 categories, along with bracket action and exhibition runs by the home-state nitro-burning duo of John Dixon and Jamie Bodenstadt in the Alaskan Grizzly team Fuel Altereds. And Dixon provided the fireworks.
Running opposite of its sister machine, Dixon’s Trophy Hunter Fuel Altered encountered a spectacular explosion just off the starting line on its second pass of the day, splintering the supercharger and sending shrapnel — and in particular a chunk of steel of sizable proportions — whizzing by the head of the videographer, who says it all happened so quickly that he never saw anything but the explosion itself through the viewfinder. A proper supercharger bag and restraints are evident on the Trophy Hunter, but hell hath no fury for the incredible violence of a nitromethane-fueled failure.
Despite the impressive fireball, Dixon walked away from the incident unharmed, as did the videographer, who, if he hasn’t already, ought to be thanking his lucky stars he’s around to talk about it. Because that was close. Real close.