The old adage that there are, “a million ways to lose a drag race” is true. Just when you think you’ve seen them all, new ones seem to just pop up from nowhere. No one knew this better than Ron Colson at the US Nationals in 1978. Having posted a career best 6.03-second elapsed time earlier in the race, with Roland Leong his tuner and car owner handling the mechanical side, Colson was evolving into an odds-on favorite to win the event.
Then the unthinkable happened.
He lost on a bye run.
Kenny Bernstein could not get his car fixed for this round of competition so Colson was on a single and back in 1978 you could still lose on a single which is legitimately no longer possible because the rules have been changed. With the car hopped up to chase lane choice in the following round, Colson came off the starting line like gangbusters and then quickly was wrestling his own car. The machine pitched sideways, crossed the centerline and the mean, green machine was toast.
Steve Evans talks to Colson here and he seems like a guy waiting for the firing squad to show up. Undoubtedly Leong was angry and chewed on him. One thing that they did not know at this time? There was a break in the chassis, making the car all but uncontrollable and serving as the root of this issue.
A rare and weird moment at Indy!
In 2020 if you cross the center or tag the wall on a single you can still come back, providing that you get your mount fixed!
Press play below to see Ron Colson’s real bad day at Indy –