Doorslammers from all over the country filled Orlando Speedworld Dragway this past weekend for the 30th annual FuelTech World Street Nationals. A variety of the fastest heads-up classes competing for thousands of dollars in prize money laid down incredible passes throughout the event.
On Friday night, Norm Bryson and his team, Bryson Motorsports, out of Winston, Georgia, had their world turned upside down – literally. During the third round of Radial vs. World qualifying, Bryson’s Pat Musi Racing Engines-powered 2019 Chevrolet Corvette, equipped with a 959 cubic inch nitrous engine, was on a stout pass when it suddenly took a sharp turn to the left. Before the reality of what was happening set in, the car was backwards and sent airborne past the eight-mile mark.
“I have been doing this since 2014 and I’ve never seen a radial tire car get that loose that quickly,” Norm Bryson said. “I wasn’t worried when I felt it turn loose. As soon as it spun around, I thought to myself ‘Okay, I got this.’ The next thing I knew, I was looking at the pavement upside down,” he said.
As the car skidded to a stop on its carbon-fiber roof, Bryson remembered taking down his window net, opening the door, and immediately seeing track safety personnel there aiding him.
“As a driver, that makes you feel extremely good. Ozzy Moya does a phenomenal job having his safety team in place and having them trained for when a situation like this arises,” he said. “Hats off to the entire Orlando Speedworld team. They are second to none.”
Norman’s first priority upon exiting the car was letting his wife, Tonya, his daughter, Lee, and the rest of his crew know that he was okay. Before every run, Norm Bryson and his entire crew pray for safety for both he and his competitor in the other lane. They were grateful for this outcome as it could have been a lot worse.
While it seemed like an inevitable end to their race weekend, Norman was checked out and released from the ambulance while his crew went back to their pit to assess the car’s damage. The team soon learned that 99 percent of the damage sustained was cosmetic and that the car could not have landed on its roof in a more perfect way. Immediately, they got to work. Staying up until 2:30 a.m., they repaired every spot on the car that was damaged, which included fiberglass work, panel bonding the front end, and reattaching the rear quarter panel to the wheel tub. Norman was humbled by the kindness from hundreds of people who came by to offer their help, including his fellow Radial vs. World competitors and crew members.
Come Sunday morning, with permission from track management and without any hesitation from their driver, the team lined up the car for a time run before eliminations. The car, sporting a lot of 200 mile per hour duct tape, went right down Broadway.
“It wasn’t an ego thing to get the car back on track so quickly, it was a Godly thing. I wanted people to understand that He protected my car and me. It was important for me to show that,” Norman said.
The first round of eliminations against Jeff Miller’s famed “Bumblebee” was a true testament to the team’s motivation to get back in the saddle. A solid, side-by-side race was separated by just over .016 seconds, with Miller, the eventual race winner, narrowly beating him on a holeshot.
“We didn’t win the race, but we got to give God the honor and glory,” he said.
All in all, the Georgia-based team showed up to the race on Thursday ready to turn on win lights. Instead, they were greeted head-on with a challenge that showed their determination and passion for radial tire racing with competitors that they consider family. For Bryson Motorsports, there’s truly only one phrase that could sum up their weekend at the World Street Nationals as they head home and prepare for their next race.
Faith over fear.
Video courtesy Straight Line Media/Kyle Christ