The flaming dust cloud is what all of us at Bristol Dragway saw last weekend when NHRA pro mod racer Marc Caruso crossed the finish line at nearly 250mph and then had a parachute AND brake failure. The car screamed through the uphill shutdown area at the track and rocketed into the pea-gravel style strap before being captured by the catch nets and sand barrels that mark the literal end of the strip.
Caruso is a hard runner out of New York that is very well known and respected in PDRA drag racing and has made some occasional and impactful appearances in the NHRA series. He has recorded round wins and knocked out full-timers and on this run he was going to be well qualified for the eliminations field. Then it all went wrong.
The staged nets at the end of the track did what they were designed to do. The first is there is dissipate energy and get some velocity knocked off the car and then the second is the stopper, backed with the sand barrels. It is not a gentle deceleration but it was one that allowed Marc Caruso to exit the car under his own power in front of a stunned crowd in Bristol.
Some analysis done with distance and time reveals that Caruso entered the sand trap at an estimated 180+ mph. These cars weight about 2,500lbs and that is a lot of dense mass to stop in a short amount of time. The stop was hard enough that the fuel tank was ejected from the car and was burning on the hill above the mangled Camaro. It was an apocalyptic scene for sure. Thankfully Marc was able to exit the car and his family sped to the top end to see him.