NASCAR & Auto Racing

Police formally blame mechanical failure in Kalitta's crash

TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey State Police says massive engine failure at slightly more than 300 mph triggered a crash that killed top Funny Car racer Scott Kalitta in June.

Investigators say a "catastrophic mechanical failure" caused a fuel-fired explosion in Kalitta's Toyota Solara before the quarter-mile finish line during a qualifying race at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

The state police says the rear portion of the vehicle's fiberglass body separated, deploying the damaged parachute system. The car then crashed into a pole and a boom truck that held a TV camera.

The report says the 46-year-old died from multiple blunt trauma injuries.

The crash happened during the final round of qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals.