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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Al Hanna's Bad Evening, 1981

By James Morgan

Hanna vs Burgin as the crowd watches intently. Photo by James Morgan
Hanna vs. Burgin as the crowd watches intently. Photo by James Morgan

I think I've posted one of these pics before but figured I would share the blurred sequence along with my memories of the event. It was the first round of a typical New England nighttime show. Hanna, Burgin, Hawley (Chi Town), Etchells, Segrini (Super Brut Omni), Tom Anderson (Wemett's Arrow), Rick Johnson (Custom Body Omni) were in attendance. Second pairing of the first round had Al Hanna matched up against Gary Burgin.

Al Hanna takes a hard right as something breaks. Photo by James Morgan
Al Hanna takes a hard right as something breaks. Photo by James Morgan

After hellacious side by side burnouts that brought the crowd screaming to their feet, the pair staged up for battle. At the launch, both cars steamed away from the start line and looked good, then about 300 feet out, in an instant Hanna took a hard right (almost like something broke) and contacted the rail hard.

His front end smashed, Al bounces off the guardrail and gets control. Photo by James Morgan
His front end smashed, Al bounces off the guardrail and gets control.
Photo by James Morgan

The back end of the car went up in the air as the speed was scrubbed from about 100 to zero in an instant. The car made a slow spin while depositing pieces on the track and stopped with the front end facing towards the spectator stands near the starting line. Al sat in the car for a few seconds and seemed pretty animated in his disgust at the incident.

All of a sudden, the 'Raider catches fire. Al got out OK. Photo by James Morgan
All of a sudden, the 'Raider catches fire. Al got out OK. Photo by James Morgan

Then without warning, woomph, the car lit up. Well anyone who doubted "Big" Al Hanna couldn't get out of the small escape hatch in a hurry had their doubts removed. In an instant of flurried activity, Al extricated himself from the burning car. The Safety crew arrived to douse the flames and after a lengthy cleanup the show continued. That's how I remember it anyway.

James
james@motorsportunderground.com
www.motorsportunderground.com

 

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