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article imageCrash kills veteran NHRA driver, 2nd death on NJ short track

By Kim I. Hartman     Jun 12, 2010 in Sports
Englishtown - A veteran drag racing driver was killed when his vehicle crashed during a qualifying round at the National Hot Rod Association SuperNationals in New Jersey on Friday. His parachute failed to deploy at the finish line traveling 249mph.
Drag racer Neal Parker, 58, of Millville N.J., died of injuries he sustained in an accident during his qualifying run friday for the Top Alcohol Funny Car National Hot Rod Association SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Parker a veteran drag racer from Melville, N.J., died after his dragster's parachute failed to deploy to help slow the vehicle down. The car drove through a safety net at the end of the race track and crashed in the raceway's shutdown area at a high rate of speed according to a statement released by the NHRA.
According to a NHRA release, Parker "crashed at a high rate of speed in the shutdown area.''
Parker wasn't able to get his car slowed down and he went off the end of the track and into the sand trap, knocking down a couple of layers of the catch netting and according to NHRA VP of competition Graham Light, into the water barrels at the end of the catch area.
Parker crossed the finish line in 5.732 seconds and was going 249.90 mph when his parachute failed to deploy.
"On behalf of everyone at NHRA and Raceway Park, we are deeply saddened and want to pass along our sincere condolences to the entire Parker family,'' the statement read.
Crash scene of top NHRA veteran driver Neal Parker.
Crash scene of top NHRA veteran driver Neal Parker.
Screen shot CBS3
This is the same race track where two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Scott Kalitta was killed in June of 2008 in a high speed crash also in the shutdown area at the end of the track. That accident prompted the NHRA to shorten the race tracks from the traditional quarter-mile length to 1,000-foot.
Parker's death while competing in the Top Alcohol class -- drag racing's version of a "triple-A" -- is the second fatality at an NHRA national event this season. A spectator was killed in February when a tire came off the Top Fuel dragster being driven by Antron Brown and struck a woman near the grandstands at Firebird Raceway outside Phoenix.
Mr. Parker was pronounced dead at the raceway. NHRA officials and New Jersey state police are investigating.
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