KENT, Wash. — A 60-year-old drag racing driver became the third person to die at an NHRA event this year when he crashed after crossing the finish line during his semifinal heat at the Northwest Nationals on Sunday.
Mark Niver of Phoenix was competing in the Top Alcohol dragster class in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing series, the top feeder circuit for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series. The parachutes on his car ripped away after they were deployed and Niver couldn't stop his dragster before it slammed into the protective netting at the end of the runway.
The NHRA said it's investigating the accident and extended its sympathies to Niver's family. Association spokesman Michael Padian declined comment when asked for more information about what happened, saying the investigation had just started.
According to a release from the King County sheriff's office, a man driving a dragster was killed in an accident at Pacific Raceways outside Seattle. The NHRA identified Niver in its statement.
The sheriff's office was contacted by the track at about 3:40 p.m., according to its release, and the man had died by the time deputies arrived.
Racing was suspended for about an hour for the deputies' investigation, Padian said.
Messages were left seeking comment from Pacific Raceways.
Niver's death is the second in a month at an NHRA event. Neal Parker, a 58-year-old from Millville, N.J., died of head injuries after crashing his alcohol-fueled funny car during a qualifying round at the NHRA SuperNationals at a New Jersey raceway in June.
In February, a spectator died after being hit by a tire from a crashing dragster at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. The woman was watching a first-round Top Fuel run when Antron Brown's Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster went out of control on the strip and its left rear wheel came off.
Winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series on Sunday were Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel, Tim Wilkerson in Funny Car and Greg Anderson in Pro Stock.