I never expected this. Didn't his car blow up way before the end?
The NHRA has cut the race distance for its Top Fuel and Funny Car classes to 1,000 feet--320 feet short of a quarter-mile--as a safety measure in the wake of the death of racer Scott Kalitta nearly two weeks ago.
The shorter race distance takes effect with the Mopar Mile Hile Nationals in Denver, Colorado, on July 11-13.
Shortening the race distance will give the Funny Car and Top Fuel dragsters more runoff room after the finish line.
Kalitta died on June 21 in Englishtown, New Jersey, when his Funny Car engine exploded during a qualifying run. Kalitta's car ran off the end of the track, through a sand pit and crashed into a wall. The car's parachutes did not deploy. Kalitta, 46, was taken to a nearby hospital and declared dead.
After Kalitta's crash, several drivers complained that the runoff area at the Englishtown track was not long enough.
The NHRA said the change was made in collaboration with the race teams.
"With the change, fans will still be able to enjoy the sights, sounds and thrill of NHRA nitro racing with speeds around 300 mph and quick elapsed times to 1,000 feet," the NHRA said in a statement.
The NHRA said it is looking at the following issues as it investigates Kalitta's crash:
-- How to reduce engine failures.
-- Parachute mounting techniques and materials.
-- Increasing braking efficiency when downforce is lost due to a car body being lost.
-- New ways to stop runaway vehicles at the end of the track.
-- Considering the need to reduce speeds for more safety.
Drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein, president of the Professional Racers Owners Organization, said the group supports the change.
"It is not lost on any of us that this constitutes a change in our history of running a quarter-mile, but it's the most immediate adjustment we can make in the interest of safety which is foremost on everyone's mind," Bernstein said in a statement. "This may be a temporary change and we recognize it is not the total answer."