NHRA Shortens Top Fuel and Funny Car 1/4 mile distance to 1000 feetby Nick Aziz
Following the accident in Englishtown, NJ that took the life of driver Scott Kalitta, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) announced on Wednesday that beginning with the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, July 11, both Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will race to 1000 feet, rather than the traditional 1,320 feet (one-quarter mile).
Kalitta, 46, died after his Toyota Solara Funny Car burst into flames near the end of a qualifying run and his parachutes failed to fully deploy. The car, traveling at more than 300 mph, went off the end of the track into a catch net pole and then into a camera boom.
The NHRA has issued the change in collaboration with professional race teams on the circuit. "The board members of the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) wholeheartedly and unanimously support this decision," said its president Kenny Bernstein. "We want to thank NHRA for listening to our input and suggestions to incorporate these changes. 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. This may be a temporary change and we recognize it is not the total answer. We will continue to work hand in hand with NHRA to evaluate other methods of making Top Fuel and Funny Car competition safer so that we might return to our quarter-mile racing standard.
The NHRA feels that the change will help in a dual manner"”to allow time to analyze and implement changes in safety procedures, while still allowing fans to see the nitro-fueled cars race at near 300mph speeds.