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Watch the moment a 300mph dragster’s parachute fails to deploy

Perhaps the scariest moment a driver could experience is if the brakes fail, so think how terrifying it would be if your car was a 300mph dragster?

For veteran racer Gary Densham, he won’t need much of an imagination because that’s exactly what happened during a qualifying race at the Circle K Winternationals in Pamona, California.

The 69-year-old was taking on Jim Campbell in what should have been a high-octane spectacle. But Campbell’s dragster in the right lane blew up after just 300ft, leaving Densham to speed off into the distance.

The good news is that Densham set a personal best of 4.050 seconds over a quarter mile and came eleventh overall, passing the finishing line at 307mph. The bad? Travelling at 307mph and trying to slow down without the help of a parachute.

As you can imagine, the highly modified Dodge Charger dragster is seen carrying a significant amount of speed as it hits the sand pit at the end of the run before coming to a dangerously abrupt halt in the safety net.

Densham was somehow able to walk away from the crash without any help. He was checked over by National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) emergency service officials before walking over to his wife Joanne to give her a hug.

“It’s hard to tear up a perfectly good race car. We don’t know what happened,” Densham said in an Auto Week interview.

He added: “When it don’t stop, it don’t stop. These cars are going awful fast, and when the parachutes don’t work, the brakes aren’t quite enough in a case like this. That’s the way it goes.”

NHRA dragsters can have upwards of 10,000 horsepower and can out-accelerate a jet fighter with ease. Not the sort of car you want the brakes to fail on, then.

Just to give you an idea of how insanely fast these cars are (and how terrifying it would have been for Densham), here’s an onboard video of a dragster blasting from 0-300mph in less than four seconds.

Video: Gary Densham parachute dragster crash


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