Most Insane Crashes in The History Drag Racing


Wrecks are a painful reality that all professional and amateur racers have to face. Whether you race bikes, cars, trucks, or boats – the threat of knowing that any small obstacle can cause is always there. Many professionals admit that it is this intangible threat that makes their obsession with racing so strong. You have to be aware as a drag racer. – June 27, 2004 – Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois was the scene of a crash that ended 35 year old Darrell Russell’s life Sunday, June 27, 2004. He was traveling at 322.72 miles per hour when the unthinkable exploding rear tire happened.

Gateway International Raceway Accident

The LA Times reports that after the tire exploded, the vehicle crossed over the center line, from the left lane, and erupted into a fireball. While in the fireball state, the vehicle moved back into the left lane and hit the barrier where it slid to a stop.

It was later determined that Russell was killed by debris from the explosion caused by the tire, not the crash or resulting fire. One unique thing about this race is that Russell was racing against Scott Kalitta.

The LA Times also reports that it shows the left tire was shredding and the wing in the rear was twisted and pulled down. While the parachute did deploy, it was not able to keep the Russell vehicle from hitting the front of Kalitta’s. In this race, Kalitta was not injured.

Fiery Crash at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Inc.

On June 21st, 2008, 46 year old Scott Kalitta was involved in a fiery crash that occurred in the qualifying run in Englishtown, New Jersey that ended his life. Kalitta’s car broke out in flames close to the end of his run. The vehicle continued on and hit a TV camera boom and then exploded. Kalitta was a 2-time Top Fuel champion and was the 1st NHRA Powerade Series driver that died throughout a nation event since Darrell Russell who died in 2004…

According to USA Today and the NHRA report, one factor was an initial explosion followed by the parachutes inability to deploy fully which would have help to slow the vehicle down from its speed of 300 miles per hour.

March 2007 Crash at Gainesville Raceway

Eric Medlen was 33 years old when he was injured critically on March 19th, 2007 when his Funny Car hit the right side guard rail in the test session at Gainesville Raceway. He had severe head injuries, lost conciseness, and never woke up. He died March 23rd, 2007 from those injuries in the University of Florida Medical Center.

He was one of NHRA’s POWERade Drag Racing Series most well-liked young drivers. According to team owner John Force, “He was the leader of my next generation of drivers”.

According to ESPN, after the death of Medlen, John Force and Ford Racing began “The Eric Medlen Project”. This project was created to find and improve safety features in the sport.

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