One of the purposes of this "Radio Free Ashburn" blog is to report on sports media. Which makes it discomforting for me to write of yet another death in the world of racing. It's never good to write of a life taken swiftly by tragic circumstances, and this is no different.
Sometime around 5:30 this evening, during a NHRA event in Elizabethtown, NJ--NHRA, meaning the National Hot Rod Association--there occurred a Funny Car qualifying heat. In that heat, Scott Kalitta (a 2-time Funny Car champion) had his car explode at the finish line. Normally, you would be able to deploy the chute in back of the car to slow the car down from speeds of close to 330 MPH.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case here. What happened next, was (and is) uncomfortable to watch. Kalitta's car roared towards the retaining wall at the end of the track at what's been estimated to be around 280 to 300 MPH. Remember, no chute was deployed.
Scott Kalitta's death was confirmed at approximately 6:45 this evening. He was 46.
To ESPN's credit, they did not show this live. Instead, it was shown @ 7:00 tonight. The broadcast crew @ Elizabethtown, needless to say, was shaken. Certainly, no one wishes to be perceived as cold and heartless...and ESPN is no different.
When you see this horrific tragedy tonight (during "Sportscenter" or elsewhere), there's something you should pay strict attention to. The crane where the camera that shows the angle of the dragsters coming head-on towards the viewer--located, ironically, near the retaining wall--sways at the moment of impact, like one of those bobbing ducks you get at a novelty store. I'm not trying to be funny saying that; it just seemed that way to me when I saw this.
Words fail me at this time, to try to describe my feelings about witnessing death by videotape. Call me morbid, but I had to see this for myself. I had to see why the chute doesn't deploy.
Now, the investigation begins as to what happened...