Funny Car driver Ron Capps was left with a headache and sore knees Sunday following a violent explosion that shattered the body of his Skoal Racing Camaro Funny Car. Capps was racing his teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round of the ...
Funny Car driver Ron Capps was left with a headache and sore knees Sunday following a violent explosion that shattered the body of his Skoal Racing Camaro Funny Car.
Capps was racing his teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals when an intake valve retainer broke, triggering the blast.
"The explosion lifted the top half of the motor off and it went into the firewall and pushed that up over the roll cage," Capps recalled. "There was no warning. The engine gave a little quiver, but that was it.
"I couldn't see anything at first. The firewall or whatever it was had my head pushed against the cage at an angle. My first reaction was to go for the 'chute, but I couldn't reach it. Then I went for the brake and couldn't reach that either because of the debris around me. I did find the button to my crew radio and got my index finger on it. Then I started screaming at Todd (Okuhara, assistant crew chief), 'I need help! I need help! I can't steer it. I can't stop it.
"The explosion was the worst that I've ever been through," he continued. "I could see the guard rail out there and I knew I was going to be hitting it sooner or later. I knew that Lefty Grice and the Safety Safari would be there when I stopped . . . and they were.
"My knees hurt and I was really worried about how bad they were. They still hurt, but the NHRA emergency services said they weren't broken." The crew, meanwhile, was busy checking the chassis for damage and removing what remained from the engine. When Capps returned to the pit area, his first question was: "Did it hurt the chassis?"
Fortunately for him, the next race doesn't take place until Oct. 25-27 at Las Vegas.
Capps returned to his Carlsbad, Calif., home Sunday evening aboard team owner Don Prudhomme's private jet.