Drag racing legend John Force survives 300 mph crash: 'That was horrifying'

The racer's engine exploded on a track in Virginia.
John Force
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 24, 2024

One day after legendary National Hot Rod Association drag racer John Force escaped a fiery crash at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, track officials and other drivers are sharing their thoughts and feelings.

"Watching your childhood hero go through that was horrifying," Virginia Motorsports Park VP Tyler Crossnoe said. "Seeing him get out of the car, even under his own power, was a blessing."

Force's engine exploded during the first round of Funny Car eliminations on Sunday. His car crossed the centerline, striking both guard walls before coming to a stop, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) released in a statement.

Force, 75, was able to get out of his car and he was taken to the hospital where was evaluated at the ICU. His current condition has not been released.

"These cars are dangerous, no matter what," NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria said. "We’re going over 330 miles per hour in less than four seconds and 1,000 feet."

DeJoria said she was thankful for the drivers' safety equipment.

"It starts with the chassis. They’ve evolved over the years. We’ve made them better," NHRA Funny Car driver JR Todd said. "The padding is the key, that’s inside the roll cage. It doesn’t let our heads beat off the Chrome Molly Tubing. Form-fitted seats, seat belts, helmets, fire suits, head and neck restraints it just goes on and on and on."

Drivers said it's also what happens after a where changes and improvements can save lives.

"I had my bad accident in Englishtown. I walked away from it but that accident made all of our rear ends with the parachutes are connected, to the rear end, they’re now on a tether system so that’s never going to happen again," DeJoria said.

Officials at the quarter-mile drag strip at Virginia Motorsports Park are looking to see what they can do to improve driver safety.

"We have to figure out a way to make things better every weekend," Crossnoe said. "Everybody watches the crash. We all have to watch what happened after the crash. How quick did we react? Did we make the right moves turning out? Did the safety teams react in the order they were supposed to? If they didn’t we need to correct that."

This story was originally published by Scripps News Richmond.

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