When we think about Top Fuel Dragsters blowing over backward our thoughts usually hone in on the infamous mid-1980s Garlits blow over at Englishtown or Eddie Hill’s horrifying wreck at the 1989 Winternationals. Fact is, this is something that dragster pilots have been fighting since the early 1970s. Yes, there were instances of sling shots going into power wheelstands on the starting line but they normally ended with the car back on the wheels, albeit bent up. (Yes, we know about King and Marshall sending their car all the way over on the starting line at the 1970 US Nationals).
The video clip we found shows a terrible wreck with pilot Paul Longenecker in the wrong place, which was the driver’s seat! The video opens up the a shot of the push truck getting Longenecker fired up and quickly cuts to his launch at US 131 Dragway in Martin, Michigan.
The car immediately hikes the front end and things don’t get any better from there. Instead of the slingshot’s propensity to unload and smoke the tires, the rear engine car gains more traction as the weight is levered onto the rear tires. The car goes into an incredible set of vertical twisting spins the likes of which we have never seen in any other crash video. We have seen plenty of dragsters rotate around in the air but this one spins like a figure skater on the ice.
At some point the wing, which is small on ths car as they were on all early rear engine slingshots (the ones that ran a wing anyway) becomes a hinderance because it no longer plants the tires, it levers the car over backward. The real wreckage happens then.
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE THIS CRAZY VIDEO FROM 1973 –