My obsession at finding and seeing as many drag strips on this planet as I possibly can stems from the fact that while all of them are (at base) long strips of asphalt and/or concrete, they each have their own signature. Take for example the Texas Motorplex. This place was THE cutting edge facility of the 1980s and while it may not be the most advanced track in the known universe anymore, it has some interesting elements, particularly the length and depth of its gravel run off trap. When I was working the AAA of Texas NHRA Fall Nationals last weekend I was at the top end and kind of marveled at how long the thing was. I figured nothing would ever get down to the net at the end of it. I figured wrong.
On a high speed run against Doug Gordon, Annie Whiteley had her parachutes tangle and entered the sand trap absolutely flying. Whiteley’s Camaro is one of the most fearsome alky funny cars in the country and ripping through the finish line at 260+ mph means that the shut down area disappears quickly when the air brakes do not function as promised. In my estimation she did a great job given the circumstances that she was in. Her brake work was on point, the car was bouncing but not overly so, showing off her skill with the brake handle at speed.
The big issue with an alcohol funny car over their nitro burning counterparts is the fact that they do not have the massive rear “dump truck” looking wing situation. This means that the bodies are very slippery and they do not have near the drag that the nitro burning cars have. You’ll notice this as she comes by the camera. There are spill plates back there but nothing to effectively catch the air and help to slow the car. That body also tends to give some more downforce when the brakes are being used, especially as speeds north of 200 or so.
Annie was OK and honestly I’m not sure if her car even touched the net or if the nose damage we can see came from the gravel pushing up against the front of the car as it was heading through the trap. The Whiteley’s are good people and we all breathed a sigh of relief when Annie popped up through the hatch.