I went looking for this video as a result of two conversations over the last three days. The first was with Tony Pedregon himself as we were in the television booth at the NHRA Heartland Nationals and the topic came up. You may be wondering how in the hell something like this could happen and I actually asked him, “Tony, how in the hell could something like this happen?” Tony explained the situation to me and then told me that there’s video of the whole thing including a pretty in-depth interview with Steve Evans walking through the whole thing.
The timing of the the whole thing was amazing. Literally the second he went to hit the parachutes the belts were loose and you will see him pressed up against the windshield like a bug. Wait until you see the steering wheel and what that looked like from him trying to hold on. If you know what Gs do, you understand that Tony (let’s say he weighed 150lbs in this video), with negative 6gs pulling him out of his seat basically weighed 900lbs for those moments at peak deceleration. It is kind of amazing he did not come THROUGH the windshield with the force that he struck it with.
Tony did get the car stopped in the middle of the track without any further issues but he was banged up. Because it happened in a nano-second Tony had no idea what the car would look like when he got out of it. He legitimately thought that it had either blown up or potentially broken in half during the whole scene. It took him a second to do the math when he looked over his intact race car that looks as though nothing was amiss.
After this run Tony went to a redesigned seatbelt arrangement which had safety provisions to prevent this from ever happening again.