GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Drive is ideal on the season: three NHRA occasions and three harrowing engine explosions.
The 16-time Humorous Automotive champion blew one other one throughout Friday’s qualifying for the Gatornationals, making a fireball that despatched the fiberglass physique of his Chevrolet dragster flying dozens of toes within the air and touchdown midway between the strip and the grandstands.
The 68-year-old Drive sustained a reduce throughout the again of his proper hand. He had it bandaged on the finish of the monitor, however didn’t want stitches.
Drive joked that at the least he didn’t get hit with one other invoice for an ambulance experience.
“I actually thought we had it,” Drive stated, referring to the “gremlin” that brought about engine issues in every of the primary two occasions in 2018. “I believed we had been there. … That was one other physique and that hurts the monetary. I used to be out $500,000 to $600,000 and now we’re most likely out $800,000 occurring 1,000,000. In drag racing, it’s a must to be powerful.”
Nobody in NHRA has needed to bounce again greater than Drive this season.
He endured the primary blown engine throughout a qualifying run on the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, California, in early February. As he neared the end line, his engine erupted so violently that it despatched the automotive physique flying by means of the air in items. Drive walked away unscathed.
One in all his two racing daughters, Brittany, wasn’t as fortunate two days later.
The 31-year-old Drive was hospitalized in a single day following a tough crash in an elimination race. She escaped inside accidents and sustained solely “upper-body soreness.”
Brittany Drive was again within the automotive two weeks later in Chandler, Arizona. She certified 14th and was overwhelmed within the second spherical of eliminations.
“It’s what we do, just like the folks within the circus, those that swing from the ceilings, the trapeze,” John Drive stated then. “It’s what you do. It’s your dwelling.”
Drive discovered extra bother in Arizona final month.
He blew one other engine on the end line throughout an elimination run on the Arizona Nationals and ended up crashing into fellow driver Jonnie Lindberg.
Drive tried to maintain his automotive straight following the fiery explosion, however he drifted throughout the monitor in entrance of Lindberg and whacked the fitting wall so laborious that his rear tires got here off the bottom. They landed on Lindberg’s windshield.
The entrance of Drive’s automotive then acquired tangled in Lindberg’s parachute. Lindberg dragged Drive into the fitting wall once more after which pulled him again throughout the monitor. They tagged the left wall earlier than slowing to a cease.
Lindberg walked away with out help. Drive was acutely aware and alert as he was transported to a hospital.
He acquired again within the automotive at Gainesville Raceway and hoped for higher outcomes.
He shut the automotive off after 500 toes as a precaution within the first qualifying run Friday. He was going to go a bit bit farther within the second cross, however the engine let go and shredded the physique.
Drive was again within the pits an hour later, serving to his crew strive to determine what occurred and easy methods to repair it by Saturday. The engine was being pulled aside whereas fiberglass physique elements remained stacked up close to their touchdown spot.