Starting line explosions and supercharger backfires by fuel-burning Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars was more of a commodity in years gone by, giving us such scenes as Doug Herbert’s greatest-of-all-time boomer at Pomona in 1999 and a variety of body-bangers throughout the 1990s. Both fortunately and unfortunately, such melee hasn’t been remedied for the driver, but it has inched its way 800 or 900 feet down the racetrack, out of harms way for crew and track officials.
But nitromethane and the incredible forces it creates inside the of the combustion chamber are always lurking, seeking a path of resistance in the production of 11,000 horsepower; one tuning mistake, one component pushed too far, and the consequences can be catastrophic. Such was the case for not one, but a pair of fuel Funny Car runners ‘down under’ this weekend, who each endured separate explosions on the same run in a scene rivaled perhaps only by Robert Hight’s and Matt Hagan’s dueling boomers in Gainesville last spring.
Competing in Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Night event, Anthony Begley was matched with Matt Abel in the opening round of a five-car Funny Car match that resulted in a contest that will live in highlight reel infamy. Begley, in the right lane, endured the more significant of the two explosions, moving not 5-feet before his flopper erupted into an enormous fireball, chucking the damaged body into the air and raising both the body temperature and blood pressure of everyone on the starting line.
Matt Abel over Anthony Begley in the most exciting Funnycar race I've ever shot Think my moe got singedPosted by Owen Ducker on Saturday, February 2, 2019
With nearly every camera and eyeball on the property fixated on Begley’s tattered machine, Abel charged to a 5.69-second, 226.05 mph lap when his car also unleashed with all of hell’s fury at the 1/4-mile stripe, disintegrating the body and sending shrapnel and parts high into the sky.
Fortunately, neither driver was injured nor were any of those present on the starting line. Abel was unable to return for his second round matchup. Adam Murrihy went on to win the event with a 5.86-second pass.