08
Sep

The final qualifying session for an NHRA race is usually the most exciting session for action as teams try to bump their way into the field. Things get even crazier at the US Nationals, where a large number of pro drivers attempt to make the 16 car fields in the biggest race of the season. Today during final qualifying for nitro funny car, rookie Todd Lesenko would find out first hand what I’m talking about….

After shooting the previous qualifying session in the staging lanes shooting driver portraits, I would head to the top end to shoot head on shots in the spot where you can see all the action coming right at you.

In this first shot of the sequence (below) you can see some unusual flames coming from the exhaust pipes. That is always an early indication of an unhappy engine. Note the smoke or liquid coming from the engine compartment. That is a VERY bad sign for Todd.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

BOOM! With a massive fireball, the engine of Lesenkos car would let go. Note the body buckling from the force of the explosion.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

The force of the explosion would rip the front body latch off thus allowing the front of the body to come up from the car.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Lesenko would cross the finish line at 4.173 seconds at 284 mph to actually qualify for the race!

As you can see in the below photo, at 284 mph, the wind getting below the body quickly would send the body high up into the sky.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Metal bars fly above the car of Todd Lesenko as he fights for control of the body-less fiery ride from hell. The metal bars were from inside the body that mounted it to the chassis.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

The one good thing about blowing the body off a funny car is the parachutes are mounted to the body so when it flies off it automatically deploys the parachutes.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Another good thing about blowing the body off your funny car is it usually eliminates the fire. Not in this case!

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Without the body on the car the flames would literally be right in the face and lap of Lesenko.

In the below photo if you look close in the cockpit you can actually see Todds eye as he fights to maintain control.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

The fire would go out as he bounced his nearly out of control car to a stop on the track.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Where did the body end up you ask?

About 40 yards off the track over a fence into the spectator area. Unlike baseball however, the fans weren’t able to keep it.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

In his interview following the explosion, Lesenko was actually excited and happy that he qualified for the race.

Of course he was happy, its owner Jim Dunn who is stuck with the 75 thousand dollar repair bill!

I have a Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!


 
Posted in 10 Spot, Crash, Drag Racing, NHRA, Racing, Sports   3 Comments

3 Responses to “10 Spot / NHRA driver Todd Lesenko Explosion”

  1. Anonymous says:

    why dont you mention the great job of driving by the canadian. look at your pics and the front wheels are aimed strait down the track, hes driving that car.

  2. Dyan Lover says:

    Awesome photos as usual Mark. Good for both Todd and yourself for keeping your composure. He driving …you shooting.VERY well done!

  3. […] credit goes to an amazing photographer who covers lot of sports and racing events:  Mark J Rebilas – great […]

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Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!