New Jersey State Police investigators issued their report on the fatal crash of Nitro Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta this week. Investigators determined that catastrophic mechanical failure caused a fuel-fired explosion in Kalitta's Funny Car during qualifying at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. The report noted that the rear portion of the car body separated, deploying the damaged parachute system. Surprising was that Kalitta's blood alcohol level was found to be .02, 25 percent of the state's legal limit. It is illegal to race in New Jersey with alcohol in your system and also goes against NHRA rules.
The report, which can be found at NJSP.org, claims that Kalitta's car went through the lights at 300.7 mph and even though the engine blew it continued to run and power the car. Without chutes, all Kalitta had was a mechanical brake to slow the vehicle. Ultimately, the car became airborn, hit a pole, and slammed into the boom from the ESPN camera truck.
Kalitta died of multiple injuries incurred during the crash.
From the report: "Evidence discovered in Kalitta’s lane revealed that he had applied mechanical braking and maintained steering control of the vehicle throughout the 2235-foot-long “shutdown” portion of the racetrack. Post crash examination of the vehicle further revealed the clutch system to be locked, maintaining engine power to the rear wheels. Witnesses and audio recordings reveal the vehicle’s engine firing throughout the shutdown portion of the racetrack, which further reinforced the fact that the vehicle’s engine was still providing power for some period of time."
More: "Post mortem toxicological analysis of blood obtained from Scott Kalitta during his autopsy revealed the presence of Ethanol at a level of 23 mg/dL. This level converts to a BAC percentage of .02% BAC. This level, 25% of the legal limit for intoxication in the State of New Jersey, remains in violation of NHRA rules (Section 1.7, I., B.1.) as well as N.J.S.A. Title 13 Chapter 62 New Jersey State Motor Vehicle Racetrack Regulations."
Upon entering the “run-off” area and impacting the pea gravel, Kalitta’s race vehicle took flight at a speed of approximately 125 MPH. The vehicle sailed over the western retaining wall and its right front tire rubbed the concrete wall before the vehicle impacted the western “catch net” support post. This (8.5" diameter x 7' high) hollow steel post was protected on its northern and southern sides by the concrete barrier by its position within the barrier, but extended above the wall with no attenuation."
The entire report can be viewed at www.njsp.org/news/pr091708.html