No Chute, No Brakes, Fractured Back


Admin & Resident Techie
Staff member
Oct 18, 2005
Ft Worth Tx
There has been an ongoing discussion in the sportsman pits about shut-down safety. Alot of cars are going way faster than technology has allowed the safety systems to keep up with.

In this case, the manual parachute deployment system failed, the automatic system failed, and he also says that he had poor braking as well. I'm told the injector had handed in his lap, the supercharger and fuel cell landed about 15 feet from the car.

Not how we planned the weekend to go. The chute deployment system failed and to make matters worse so did the brakes. Besides the car being destroyed Marc was able to walk away with a lower lumbar fractured spine. Thank you to everyone that messaged, called and came by to check on us. Happy Father’s Day!

The Carusos

The pictures show the car resting in a net. I am confused on this.
Those nets are super stretchy, like a volleyball net. See the hole in the water barrels? Those keep you from hitting the mountain. Notice many are gone. That's because they went flying and he hit the mountain.
Those nets are super stretchy, like a volleyball net. See the hole in the water barrels? Those keep you from hitting the mountain. Notice many are gone. That's because they went flying and he hit the mountain.

Ok, I get it now, the net snapped back with the car in it.

It sure proves that there is insufficient stopping devises at the very end. The kitty litter did nothing to slow the car and there was a bump at the entrance to the kitty litter that made the car go airborne.

What do you think his speed was when he hit the first net?
If I had to guess, was probably lucky to get down to 175-150 by the time he got into the sand. He went 5.87 @ 245. Aerodrag will kill it down to 200 pretty quickly, and if he had any brakes at all, should have been able to scrub another 30 or 50 off even with stone cold carbon brakes.

Edit- Ellen says that it's been indicated to have been around 135ish, possibly up to 150 based on the onboard data recorder. It bottomed out the accelerometer at -12G's.
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Looks like he steered to the center of the net. I actually think that system stopped him pretty well. Hitting on an angle though would have been bad (twisting impact) though if he came in at an angle, there is a good chance of flipping. Very lucky!

I mean that's a LOT of bad luck...except for the outcome

Erica Enders (Pro Stock/Pro Mod) and Jeff Arend (Funny Car) had quite the discussion on Ellen's post.

Jeff Arend said:
Lever on almost every car I drive. The big secret is to grab the brake like you have no chutes right after you deploy them and then when you feel them hit you can let off the brake. When you are going 250-300mph you are going about a football field a second! It’s too easy to get complacent cause you don’t want to have to get pushed off the track, but I would rather get pushed off the track then get pulled out of the sand!

Erica Enders said:
On my pro stock car, I have a button on my wheel with a back up lever on the roof. I think the button is necessary in that car because you can go from shifting high gear to the button. PS cars have no downforce and with the lack of track prep...they can get out of hand in a hurry. Having the button allows you to deploy quick in an emergency situation. The downfall to this is solenoids fail, humans make mistakes (turning the air bottle on), air fails, electronics fail. In 15 years of PS racing I’ve only had 6 all cases I just reached up and pulled the lever. Some people panic and forget this but it’s a must to have it as part of your procedure. You can NOT wait.

Now in the pro mod car...we built a brand new car with the spring launchers. Yes, they are a pain to repack but I think it should be a rule. At 260mph there is no time for error. From the time I let go of the transbrake button, my hand is on the lever. No air, no buttons...just pull the lever and the chutes come out.

Two cars, two opinions. I’d rather have a system we know won’t fail. We also need to revisit the automatic deploy deal NHRA has. I do not understand why that failed (also) on Caruso’s run. Terrible circumstance but we have to learn from all of this. Every rule is in place because someone crashed or got hurt. The object is to make this as safe as possible so the people behind us don’t have to deal with what we do. It’s time that NHRA starts being proactive, not reactive. I know my opinion doesn’t matter but I can tell you that in the 9 weeks that pro mod isn’t car is having a bunch of safety stuff added (that isn’t required) because I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll quit before I drive something that is no longer safe. Just my two cents

Jeff Arend said:
Erica Enders out of curiosity since I have never driven a pro stock or pro mod, if you knew that the chutes were not going to come out, could you still make a full run and stop with just the brakes at a normal length track? Most of the problem I see is that if you hit the button or lever and the chutes don’t come out it’s going to take a second or two to react and that could be 600-1000’ of shutdown you just lost depending on what you are driving

Erica Enders said:
Jeff Arend All 6 failures were in my pro stock car with an air launcher. All 6 times, I hit the lever and stopped the car. You have to have the mental capacity to do so. However, I would NOT make a run in the PM I said, 260 is hard/impossible to overcome with just brakes. Which is the reason that I have spring launchers and a lever on a brand new car. Again, just my opinion.

Jeff Arend said:
Erica Enders Thanks for your answer. In a 5.60/260 Nostalgia Funny Car or 300+ NHRA FC, if you are on your game you can stop either at a normal length track with no chutes and just the brakes but you can’t be wasting any time doing it. IMO if you can’t stop a car with just the brakes that are on the car now, then you need bigger or better brakes!
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