Motoramic

Drag racer blows car up in fireball twice in one weekend — and wins both times

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

At last weekend's U.S. Nationals drag race meet in Indianapolis, Funny Car driver Todd Lesenko had a scary moment Saturday when his 7,000-hp engine blew off the Chevy Impala body in a ball of fire and fiberglass, sending parts 50 feet in the air. Lesenko was uninjured, the car won the heat and the race team had a spare body for Sunday's race -- where another fireball smashed a shell again.The video below showing Lesenko's first explosion also highlights how much he had to steer the car to keep it from crashing into the wall. His car is moving about 280 mph when the explosion takes place:

Lesenko's team switched their Grime Oil car to a orange body, made repairs after a night of wrenching, and lined up on Sunday to race for a spot in the finals -- when, halfway down the track, the car does as it had the day before. Some spectators took home a free souvenir:

Despite the explosion a few feet from his head, Lesenko was again not injured and able to shuffle his car across the finish line. Because his competitor's car had failed first, Lesenko won the race, but lacking a second body for the car, the Jim Dunn race team was forced to concede Lesenko's spot. Mark Rebilas, a photographer who covers NHRA and caught both of Lesenko's explosions, says he can't remember the last time a Funny Car engulfed itself in fire twice in one weekend.

Lesenko and Jim Dunn Racing have another contest this weekend in Charlotte, N.C. Maybe they should bring two extra bodies.

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