18
Aug
Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

During the quarterfinals in the top dragster category at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota drivers Don Kritzky and Montee Green would be lucky to escape serious injuries when both lost control at speed. Continue on to see the dramatic sequence!

In the 25 years I have been covering drag racing I have never seen a two car crash. During the quarterfinals of top dragster at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN that would all change with a wild and violent crash in a class not known for many incident.

Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway would be a frustrating day with numerous rain delays along with multiple oil downs that took racing late into the day with temps that barely broke 60 degrees.

I have been doing this long enough to know when things might get crazy. A cold track surface, periodic light drizzles and the aformentioned cold temperatures was all I needed to observe to stick around the top end a little longer after the top fuel and funny cars ran.

While the cold temperatures can make things more difficult for the racers, it can also benefit them as nearly every track record would be broken on this day. The cold temps are great for me as a photographer as the large 600mm lens I use to get the action up close can be severely distorted by any heat waves on the track in the up to quarter mile of pavement between me and the cars. With the low 60 degree temperatures and heavily overcast conditions I had perfect focus all the way to the starting line.

Ok lets get to the run.

Below, NHRA top dragster driver Monte Green (left) would get out of the groove and begin to lose control while leading Don Kritzky during the quarterfinals of the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Being sideways in a dragster usually doesn’t end well…

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

At this point I thought Green was going to roll his beautiful dragster….

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Somehow Montee would get the car back on all fours aimed almost straight. Problem over right?

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Wrong.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

His dragster now past the point of no return begins to spin out….

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Unfortunately, dragsters going near 200mph don’t spin….

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

They flip.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Montee Green would end up rolling his dragster all the way over as his opponent Don Kritzky would cross the finish line to take the win.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Sadly for Kritzky there would be no celebration as he began to lose control after avoiding Green as he came across the track.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Sparks fly from the car of Monte Green as he slides upside down while Kritzkys car loses traction….

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Resulting in a near slow motion right turn as Green began to barrel roll behind him.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

As Kritzky went through my view of Greens rolling car I did something that was weird to do…

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

I stopped photographing a dragster flipping side over side to see what the other car was going to do. Part of me thinks I made that decision because the car already crashing was far from me so I was safe, this much closer car in the process of losing control was a wild card and I had know idea if it was going to do something that might compromise my safety.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

At this point it looked like he had it saved and I had followed the wrong car…

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Don Kritzky almost had it saved but sadly he would run out of track….

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

And nail the right lane wall very hard. (Note his helmet hitting the roll cage)

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

The hard impact knocked Kritzkys head back and nearly into the top of the roll cage.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

With the car badly damaged he would no longer be a driver. He was a passenger…

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

As the car made a slow roll.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

With how close the car had gotten and the large lens I was using I just couldn’t keep the car centered in all the shots so I would lose focus…

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

The below photo is not cropped at all. Thats how big the car was in my viewfinder as it slid past.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Going away the car would impact the left lane wall breaking the rear end from the rest of the chassis.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

The car would roll onto its side as the rear end exited stage left.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Just when I thought the crazy incident was over, almost on cue, a giant fireball explosion would erupt from the destroyed car as Kritzkys nitrous bottle would explode.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

It was like a scene out of a war movie with raining pieces of debris, smoke, sparks and fiery explosions.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Monte Green begins to take off his safety gear as his nitrous bottle shoots off to the right like a blue missile.

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 600mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

After what seemed like 30 minutes (it was more like 6) NHRA would announce that both drivers were ok and talking with the Safety Safari crews!

Whew!

Here is ESPN’s video of the accident.

Pretty crazy stuff!

After getting back to the media center and downloading my images I was shocked to see how far Don Kritzkys head moved around the cockpit of his dragster during the crash.

In these 3 images zoomed in on the drivers compartment you can see Don Kritzkys helmet hit both sides of his roll cage as well as potentially hitting the top of the cage. He was lucky to escape with just a fractured pelvis.

In these 3 images zoomed in on the drivers compartment you can see Don Kritzkys helmet hit both sides of his roll cage as well as potentially hitting the top of the cage. He was lucky to escape with just a fractured pelvis.


 
Posted in Crash, Drag Racing, Minnesota, NHRA, Racing, Sports   1 Comment

One response to “Top Dragsters take twin tumbles at NHRA Brainerd”

  1. […] maybe better suited for the “Good Views” category, this photoblog from sports photographer extraordinaire Mark Rebilas chronicles a side-by-side Top Dragster crash at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals last year. […]

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