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NHRA Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence survives major crash Sunday at the Texas Motorplex

by Mike Haag | Posted on Sunday, October 15th, 2017

ENNIS, Texas – NHRA Top Fuel driver and points leader Steve Torrence was involved in a spectacular crash that destroyed his Capco Contractors dragster on Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex.

The incident occurred in the second round of eliminations when the left rear tire on his 10,000 horsepower dragster exploded at 320 miles per hour and sent him slamming into the left concrete guardwall.

Torrence, who is battling this season for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship, was racing against Richie Crampton when the incident occurred just as he crossed the finish line.


“The Lord was looking out for us today,” Torrence said.  “I felt the tire go.  The car went left and then right.  After that first hit, though, when it knocked the front end off, I was just along for the ride.”

Steve Torrence. NHRA photo

The 300-inch wheelbase dragster and chassis, which was built at Morgan Lucas Racing, was shorten and left in pieces.  When the car finally came to a stop, Torrence was still strapped into the cockpit but was uninjured.

Torrence actually won the race on a hole shot with a 3.724 at 302.62 mph pass compared to Crampton’s 3.711 at 325.53 mph run.  The margin of victory was .0056 seconds (approximately three feet).  Torrence had to use a back-up car in the third round for his matchup against Brittany Force.

Between the rounds his crew assembled an unpainted back-up car but it wasn’t quite strong enough to hold off Force in the semifinals.  Torrence ran 3.728 at 323.35 mph while Force went the distance in 3.685 at 327.43 mph.

Steve Torrence. NHRA photo

“I’ve said it all year long,” Torrence said.  “I wouldn’t trade these Capco guys for anyone.  To get the back-up car assembled and to have it run 3.72, you don’t know how incredible that is.  The only thing better would be if we’d won the round, but give credit to Brittany, she did her job.”

Force went on to defeat Shawn Langdon in the finals and move into second place in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel driver standings.  Torrence will carry a 53 point lead over Force when the Countdown resumes Oct. 27-29 with the 17th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas.

“I can’t say enough about that Morgan Lucas chassis,” Torrence said.  “The car did exactly what it was supposed to do in that situation.  And what it’s done as a race car speaks for itself.   I’ve got no apprehension about this new car.  It’s a clone of the one that crashed.  My guys will be massaging it for the next week getting back like we want it for Vegas.”

Torrence, who is both a cancer and a heart attack survivor, is chasing history this year and trying to become the first driver of a single-car team to win a Top Fuel championship in the current Countdown Era.  A victory on Sunday would have been his ninth this season (17th career) and first-ever win at the Texas Motorplex.

Quotes and statistical information provided courtesy of Dave Densmore

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 35 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 18 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.