NHRA driver Cruz Pedregon was a guest on The Jim Rome Show today. In a race he won at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week, Pedregon endured one of the scariest moments of his racing career when his funny car did a high speed wheel stand.
He recalled the moment from before the race started.
“It was business as usual. We’re trying to win. In drag racing, it’s a little bit like golf—not a physical, but a lot of mental. You’re in there. You’re staging. You’re calm—at least somewhat calm. I hit the throttle and these cars have 10,000 horsepower so anything can happen. But I’m going down through there, I didn’t see my opponent Robert Hight on the left and all of a sudden I just felt this weird sensation and I saw clear blue sky and I thought, well that’s a wheel stand and it’s going to slam down and I’ll be able to see. But the problem was when I was suspended in air I didn’t have perspective of where I was on the race track. And I felt like I was pinned up looking at the sky for way too long and I was thinking, man, I could have sworn I was just in a race just a few seconds ago. And now I have no control or anything. I’m just like a piece of meat riding along in a 300 mile per hour race car.”
For perspective, Pedregon described how long the wheel stand lasted.
“I was doing a wheel stand at 250 miles per hour for about 900 feet. If you imagine a city block, that’s a long time to be up in the air like that.”
He also talked about what was going through his mind at the time both his front wheels were off the ground.
“I thought for minute, ok, this was probably going to hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. I have a daughter.”
As far as logistics of getting the car down on the ground, Pedregon was nervous for the landing.
“That’s the biggest fear I had. Where am I going to land? Where I am going to be pointing? Am I going to be pointed to the wall? I have to get elbows up and start doing some driving. When it landed I was amazed that I was still going straight, number one. Number two, my win light came on of all things. I even thought, oh, shoot, we got a win out of this thing.”
When it was all said and done, Pedregon did win the race and he felt pretty lucky about escaping any real harm.
“Of all the things that could have happened, I actually dodged a huge bullet during the whole situation.”