Dragracer recounts terror

Pieter de Wit had just one thought running through his mind when the parachute tore off his jet-powered dragster at Perth Motorplex this year: “How am I going to stop this car?”

The dragracer, who was travelling about 350km/h, desperately reached for the emergency chute, but in 5½ seconds it was all over.

“I don’t think you have time to think about anything else but stopping,” he said. “When I went into the sand trap, I actually closed my eyes and I didn’t open them again till I was in hospital.”

The South African-born driver was racing on the quarter-mile drag strip in front of thousands of people on February 16 when he had problems with the car’s parachute.

The dragster ploughed through the sand trap and burst into flames, leaving him with third-degree burns, a broken nose and fractured knee.

Looking over the charred remains of the $100,000 car yesterday, de Wit said the accident had not dampened his enthusiasm for the sport.

“I’ll be back, but for now I am concentrating on getting healthy,” he said. “When I look at the car or I look at the footage, I realise I am very lucky to have walked out of it.”

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