Whether or not you realize it, you develop a pattern when you operate machinery every day. You get in the car, key the ignition, make sure the engine is running, select gear and drive. When you park, you pull up to where you want to be, set the brake, and shut down, taking care to make sure the vehicle doesn’t roll. It works the same in other situations, too. For flying, you have checklists you have to run through before you leave the ground, and before you attempt to return back to terra firma. For a boat, you have checklists. For helicopters, checklist. Those checklists are to help you remember what you are supposed to do and when…that constant reinforcement helps you to turn a list of tasks into an ingrained part of your system.
But what happens when the chocolate soft-serve hits the fan and there isn’t a checklist you can run through? You improvise and hope that your best educated guess is the right one. In Funny Car racing, that’s done at near-instinct level…you just tore 1,000 feet down in a couple of seconds…now you’re hauling major ass and the end of the track is coming up pretty quickly. So what happens when part of your checklist fails? In the case of Jeff Arend, the parachutes on his Impala SS funny car didn’t spring into life during the first round at Brainerd back 2007. He did the only thing he could do: pray that carbon-ceramic brakes could hold up to coming down from over three hundred miles an hour while making the switch from the drag strip to the road course. Check out the glow from the rotors as the flopper comes to a stop! At least it beats winding up in the sand trap…or a corn field.