Nitro Jam Countdown #5: Spectacular Spills
Nitro Jam Media
Dec 14, 2011
Everyone knows that drag racing is a dangerous sport.
When you mix volatile fuels, high horsepower engines and speeds approaching and sometimes exceeding 300 miles per hour, there is little margin for error. It takes a special person to conquer the quarter-mile in a machine that is always on the verge of out of control and when things do go wrong, the results are often times spectacular and terrifying at the same time.
From Mike McIntire’s wall-slapper at Grand Bend to Jay Turner’s 200 mph slide across the finish line, Nitro Jam saw its share of breathtaking moments in 2011 and that collection of spills comes in at No. 5 on our countdown of the year’s top stories.
McIntire has always been known as one to push his car to the limit. And why not? With one of the fastest Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Cars in the field, McIntire has used that advantage to pile up nine final round appearances over the past two seasons and a pair of top five points finishes. But at the Grand Bend Motorplex earlier this year, that pedal to the floor mentality resulted in one of the most spectacular rides of the year.
Lined up alongside John Dunn in the opening round of competition at the Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, McIntire was a little too anxious against his opponent and left the line a tad too early handing Dunn the win. Off the line the “McAttack” machine quickly began to shake the tires and made a hard turn toward the left side retaining wall. While he was able to save it the first time, the 1969 Camaro bodied funny car decided to make a second trip toward the wall and this time “Mac” wasn’t so lucky.
The car slammed hard into the wall, climbing halfway up the concrete barrier before returning to earth with a vicious thud. From there the car stayed in the throttle, taking another near-tumble halfway down the track, getting up on the right-side tires and taking out a few cones before finally slowing and crossing the finish line with all four wheels on the ground.
McIntire climbed from the car under his own power and had hopes of returning to action later in the weekend, but a back injury kept him out of competition for the remainder of the season. It was an incredible ride, but one McIntire would like to forget.
And McIntire wasn’t the only driver to have a brush with the wall in 2011. Ron Maroney in the “Nanook” Fuel Altered slapped the concrete in Tucson and several other near-misses kept fans on the edge of their seats. Throw in a few funny car bodies blowing sky high and wild near-misses including another from the “master of disaster” Bill Evans who once again put the “Black Pearl” Pro Fuel machine up on two wheels all in the name of victory and you had one wild year on the Nitro Jam tour.
Dunn crossed the finish line twice in Palm Beach - once with the car and the other with the body
But none of those incidents have anything on Jay Turner’s wild ride at the 2011 Mardi Gras Nitro Jam in Baton Rouge.
Sitting aboard a 1,500 horsepower, nitro-powered, flame-throwing motorcycle would be enough to qualify Turner as a bit of a daredevil, but after his accident in Louisiana Turner might just qualify as one of the toughest men in racing.
One moment Turner is barreling down the Louisiana strip in the fastest bike class in the world, running the second quickest lap of the session to place him in the final later that night, the next he is sliding on his back toward the wall at over 150 miles per hour, bracing as best as he can for impact. It was a terrifying moment for the fans and an even scarier moment for Turner.
“All I could think about was how bad this was going to hurt,” Turner said following the accident. “Everything was smooth and great until the handlebars came off the bike in my hands and my body rose up. As soon as that happened the wind caught me and suddenly I was in for the ride of my life.”
For what seemed like an eternity Turner slid on his back just past the finish line, eventually curling into a ball moments before impact with the left side retaining wall. In a cloud of smoke Turner slapped the wall, eventually tumbling to a stop a few hundred feet from where the incident began. Further ahead of him his bike slammed into the sand trap, leaving nothing but pieces and a frame to clean up.
One of the scariest moments of the year occured in Baton Rouge when Turner went for the ride of his life
“I slid for as long as I could on my back and I wanted to try something else so I curled into a ball and rolled,” Turner said. “It all happened so fast it didn’t even feel real. When the handlebars came off the left side was still hooked to the bike via the brake line and that is what pulled me off the bike to the left.”
Within seconds of coming to a stop Turner was surrounded by one of the best safety teams in the business as the International Hot Rod Association’s Safety First crew tended to him on the track. After a few tense moments Turner was helped to his feet and he walked to the ambulance under his own power all to the thunderous approval of the Louisiana fans. He was a little shaken, but he was alright.
That alone makes for an incredible story, but Turner wasn’t done just yet. That evening Turner obtained a new bike and returned to competition the following day, making two more passes just one day after his incredible spill.
“When I was in the ambulance I knew I wanted to come back. I knew I had to get another bike and conquer this track,” Turner said.
*Throughout the month of December we will be counting down the top 10 moments from the 2011 Nitro Jam season. Check back often as we celebrate a memorable season of racing and be sure to visit NitroJam.com and become a fan of Nitro Jam on Facebook today to follow all of the action of the fastest show on earth!*
2011 NITRO JAM COUNTDOWN
#10 Fast Fuel
#9 Bennett Bullet
#8 Monster Debut
#7 Nanook Nation
#6 USA Proud