June 17, 2007

'Burnout' mishap turns tragic in Tennessee: One day after a drag-racing car careened into a crowd and killed six people, witnesses questioned on Sunday why the driver was allowed to speed down a highway with no guard rails, lined on both sides by hundreds of spectators.

posted by commander cody to auto racing at 08:32 PM - 13 comments

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

posted by commander cody at 08:33 PM on June 17

There's amateur video that shows how reckless this stunt was.

posted by rcade at 10:22 PM on June 17

Here's that same amateur video on youtube. When I read the news report, I thought the car was doing a stationary burnout and slid sideways into the crowd. Nope. The guy accelerated down the road at speed while burning out with people on both sides. I can't imagine how he could have though that was a good idea.

posted by dusted at 01:13 AM on June 18

I can't imagine how he could have though that was a good idea. Probably because he's (Troy Warren Critchley) a pro drag racer and thought he could control his car. Little did he know that this type of accident was bound to happen. Just horrible.

posted by BornIcon at 06:48 AM on June 18

Back when I was a teenager I attended a drag race on a 4th of July weekend. The American flag was presented at the starting line by a scantily-clad babe on the back of a Harley which was being driven by a large hairy biker dude. The national anthem was sung, and the Harley started off down the track towards the finish line, bikini-babe waving and smiling at the crowd as they cheered. As they reached about half-track, two funny cars lit their engines and prepared to do their burnouts. For some inexplicable reason, aforementioned biker dude thought it would be cool to turn around and make another pass up the track. The entire crowd gasped in unison at the sight of the two funny cars, tires smoking and shrieking, barrelling down the track at the no-longer-waving-or-smiling bikini babe and her hirsute pilot who were just then realizing they were driving head-on into 10000 horsepower. There couldn't have been a foot of clearance on either side of the Harley as the cars blasted past it. I still cringe thinking about it, and that was easily 20 years ago.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:15 AM on June 18

A good candidate for the Darwin Awards. Tragic.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 11:36 AM on June 18

A good candidate for the Darwin Awards. Tragic. Technically, it's the person committing the act that has to die as a result of an obviously foolish act (and they can't already be a parent). In this case, the 6 spectators weren't the ones committing the act. That is, unless the act was observing a drag car without any safety barriers. In which case, I guess they would qualify, especially based on this testimony: Aeriel Hickman, a 15-year-old from Selmer, hurt her foot and left leg during the crash and was sent to a hospital in Jackson. She lost her friend Replogle. "Personally, I don't think they should have been doing the burnout because they knew the danger it would cause. They should have put up a guardrail. That way it may not have killed anybody." If she knew it was dangerous to watch without guardrails, why was she watching?

posted by grum@work at 11:51 AM on June 18

If she knew it was dangerous to watch without guardrails, why was she watching? First, you don't even know that she was watching. Lots of people were milling around. Second, part of the street did have a guardrail, this particular driver just burnt out much further than the other drivers past the guardrail.

posted by bperk at 11:59 AM on June 18

... but then again it is no less dangerous than watching a public fireworks display I suppose.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 12:03 PM on June 18

Tragic. Yes, I would say that defines tragedy. I hope it doesn't get lost that this event was started to raise money after the founder's son recovered from head injuries caused in a bicycle accident. How could this have seemed like a good idea to the organizers, professional driver or not, is almost beyond my belief, and I do understand that I am far removed from the situation. Still.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:09 PM on June 18

This is truely horrible. I have just two comments, both about the video footage. 1. This is not a burnout. It's a drag start. A burnout is the tire-warming smoke show that they do on the patch of water before the race, with the front brakes on. The car does not move. 2. The amateur video is shot from behind the guardrail, which you see clearly at the 0:16 mark. There's no way this guardrail would ever stop a speeding dragster from plowing off the road. Guardrail or not, people shouldn't be standing this close to a drag start. Of course, this wasn't supposed to be a drag start.

posted by qbert72 at 02:01 PM on June 18

If she knew it was dangerous to watch without guardrails, why was she watching? A fair question, though it seems possible that a lot of people were around the scene without being there to see the dragsters.

posted by rcade at 02:47 PM on June 18

Oh good christ, that's like watching archival F1 footage from the 70's when the crowd at one of the South American rounds were right next to the track. "Yes, let's stand right next to the fast moving vehicles. We'll be fine." A professional racer should bloody know better than to run in those conditions. When they do the demonstration runs around cities in F1 cars, they're either behind large barriers, or (in the case of Mark Webber) running along an area where there's no spectators.

posted by Drood at 01:03 PM on June 19

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.