Top Fuel champ survives fiery crash at NHRA opener
Staff reports8:10p.m. EST February 17, 2013
Despite scary explosion and crash, Brown was able to gingerly walk away under his own steam
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
Reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown walked away from a fiery crash in the NHRA Winternationals on Sunday during eliminations.
Brown's 300-mph dragster had just reached the finish line ahead of David Grubnic in the second round of final eliminations when the 8,000-horsepower engine on his car exploded.
The blast took out both rear tires and sent the car, which had burst into flames, careening into the left-side guard wall. The blazing car then continued to slide along the track before hitting the right-side guard wall and sliding into the safety sand trap, where the car finally came to a halt.
Safety crews were able to pull Brown from the car before he shakily walked away under his own steam and made his way to an awaiting ambulance to be evaluated.
Brown, who drives for Don Schumacher Racing, became the first African American to win a U.S. auto racing title last year. The 36-year-old entered Sunday's Top Fuel eliminations as the fourth fastest qualifier.
Brown may have also been fortunate to be driving a Top Fuel dragster equipped with a brand new canopy. Brown, along with DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey, as well as John Force Racing rookie Brittany Force, are the only Top Fuel drivers who have committed to using the canopy.
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The canopy is built for safety, not aerodynamics, but it has created a bit of controversy. The system adds weight to a car (about 30 pounds), adds cost (about $12,000), and requires a significant overhaul of the cockpit of a car, which typically costs about $250,000 to build. The cars with canopies need new seats, additional padding, and a new fire extinguishing system.
Brown had stated before the season started that he believed the new canopy was here to stay.
"It's locked, sealed and delivered," Brown said. "Now you're in a fully enclosed cockpit. It's ballistic.It's bulletproof. Things can't come to you."https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NSK03234JGc