Think back to when you turned sixteen and were out on your driving exam to get your license, white-knuckling the steering wheel at 10-and-2 with your fingers and toes crossed you wouldn’t make a mistake; now imagine that somewhere between the parallel parking test and the three point turn something fails catastrophically on the vehicle, sending you careening out of control, when to that point you’d done everything right and just wanted to make it back to the DMV unscathed.
Well, although it wasn’t a standard operators license in his sights, just such an event unfolded for Australian racer Vaughan Greentree as he attempted to gain his competition license at the Sydney Dragways’ Day of the Drags event held late last month.
At the controls of his family-owned “Undertaker” supercharged Hearse, Greentree was checking off all the requirements necessary for gaining said license, beginning with short launches and working his way toward a full quarter-mile pass. Unfortunately, it was on that first attempt at a full pull that all hell broke loose for Greentree.
After doing the burnout and going through all the motions like a seasoned vet, Greentree launched hard before going into some of the worst tire shake you’ll see by the sixty-foot mark. The shake became ever-more violent, with forces so strong that a heim joint broke on the four-link rear suspension, which effectively broke the rear end housing loose from the chassis and sent Greentree careening out of control.
Greentree was quick in his reactions, as he got the parachutes out almost instantly as the Hearse took an abrupt right across the centerline on a beeline for the wall. Some impressive driving, however, minimized the impact to a light tap of the right rear quarter panel. The damage to the car, however, was already done, as the rear tires — now simply tethered to the chassis but free to roam — knocked around the quarter panels, rear windows, and wheel tubs as the car sashayed back and forth. That damage was largely cosmetic, though, and the team is already working to put a new four-link in it and get back to racing. And Greentree, albeit never making that full pass that’s required, certainly showed the pedigree behind the wheel necessary for driving such a quick and fast race car, as illustrated by his instincts in such a hairy situation.