It’s a pretty common scene at drag strips all across the nation, including many that we at Speed Society attend ourselves: a crowd of spectators gathered around the cars at the starting line. Loitering just inches from the cars as they pull from staging to the burnout and complete their burnouts and begin the staging procedure. As the cars inch toward the line, the crowd often closes in around them, standing close enough to literally touch the cars as they launch.
Obviously, with hundreds, sometimes thousands of horsepower on tap, these cars are under some serious stresses as they complete the burnouts and launches, meaning something as small as a single bolt failing could lead to a catastrophe of disastrous consequence. Last weekend, the spectators on the line for this race got a great look at just how quickly things can go wrong in the burnout. After the Monte Carlo in the right lane completes its burnout, the camera turns to the second gen Camaro in the left lane, which begins its burnout, only to have things quickly take a sketchy turn. As the car rolls forward continuing the burnout, the left wheel appears to shear all of the studs, sending the rear of the car pitching left suddenly, where there just happens to be, you guessed it, a group of spectators.
You can see the onlookers jumping back out of the way. It does look like one of those watching takes a fender to the leg, but doesn’t look like he took too hard a blow, leaving him somewhat dazed on his knees as the crowd moves back in to check out the carnage. It’s also work noting that the wheel itself also bounces into the crowd. While this one wasn’t moving too fast, there have been spectators injured and even killed by wheels and tires at drag races and other motorsports events. Use your head, folks. I understand that the view is amazing from the starting line, but there’s a reason so many tracks and events don’t allow spectators on the line.