BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 5) — Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan figures he has a score to settle with Bristol Dragway. Last year when competing at the seventh annual Thunder Valley Nationals, McClenathan survived one of the scariest accidents in drag racing history when his 330-mph dragster literally folded in half at top speed before spinning around wildly in a shower of sparks, impacting the retaining wall, and sliding all the way up the racetrack.

The spectacular accident, made all the more dramatic because it happened Friday night, which accented the sparks and the fire, has become a staple of ESPN2 videos. It was played in heavy rotation on numerous national news channels and McClenathan — who was uninjured in the incident — was a guest on countless morning news shows.

“As far as getting attention for our sponsors, I’d say last year’s wreck ranks right up there with anything I’ve ever done,” McClenathan said. “But with all due respect to the Coughlin brothers and the people at, who are sponsoring us this race, I’d rather just win the trophy to get the media coverage this time through.

“It’s something I’ll never forget. The run was pretty normal when all of a sudden I was 20 feet in the air looking straight down at concrete. I really thought we’d been hit by the other car. I knew I was in trouble. I was on autopilot at that point. I just made sure my arms were secure and waited for the impact I knew was coming.

“It was a huge hit and it jolted my body hard. There was lots of fire and sparks going all around me. I was just along for the ride at that point. I know I wanted it to stop so I could get out. The adrenaline was definitely pumping.”

The wreckage soon came to a stop and McClenathan was out of the car before the Safety Safari workers even arrived at the scene. He was transported to a local hospital for a check-up but was released that evening. Following a yeoman’s effort by his team to prepare a back-up car, McClenathan made it back for Sunday’s eliminations.

“The story ended there because we lost in Round 1,” McClenathan said. “I thought it was awesome that my guys responded like they did. It was a big deal for me personally to get back in a car and make a pass. It put the accident behind me.

“Of course I’m getting a lot of questions about it again this week but that’s okay. I love Bristol Dragway. It’s a great track and the people there are awesome. I won’t think about the wreck when I get in the car this year, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t mind it at all if the track threw me a bone this time around. It owes me.”

Prior to the spring NASCAR event at Bristol Motor Speedway, McClenathan unveiled a special one-off dragster for this weekend’s event. To get more NASCAR fans to give NHRA a try, McClenathan fired up the 7,000 dragster during pre-race ceremonies, which earned a large roar from the capacity crowd. Normally, McClenathan drives the Fram dragster.

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