Driver walks away unharmed after terrifying drag racing explosion

A 16-time drag racing champion has had a lucky escape after his car exploded and crashed on Sunday.

Drag racing legend John Force was completing a run at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Arizona Nationals event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsport Park in Chandler, AZ, near Phoenix, when his car's engine blew up. The explosion forcibly removed the bodywork from his car and sent the 68-year-old spearing off course and into the path of his opponent Jonnie Lindberg.

Fortunately, both competitors walked away from the crash, though Force was sent to hospital for checks before being released later that night.

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The car Force was driving achieves 10,000bhp, and is a part of the 'Funny Car' category of drag racing. While the category's origins lie in production-based cars, this has since been phased out in favour of fibreglass bodies. The engines run on a mix of methanol and nitromethane, with twin-parachutes deployed at the end of races to slow the cars down.

Force's shocking moment was distinctly similar to another crash that Force had in 2007. In that instance, Force broke two legs and an arm. The experienced American racer credited safety improvements for his ability to walk away after Sunday's crash.

His daughters Brittany – who had a dramatic crash herself earlier in February – and Courtney both raced on, with the latter taking the victory in the Funny Car category.

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