Nitro Initiation Completed!

There is an old saying in drag racing which goes like this.   There are only two types of Funny Car racers: 1) Those that have had fires and 2) Those that are going to have fires….

For Edmonton’s Todd Lesenko during last weekend’s NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals that rather proverbial notion became very true. 

The talented and up-and-coming rookie racer suffered two truly harrowing incidents while racing at drag racing’s biggest event for the first time in his career. 

Todd Lesenko delivered one of the wildest incidents in NHRA U.S. Nationals history last Saturday.

The first while racing the Jim Dunn Racing/Grime Boss Funny Car was a very wild and fast moving top end explosion during Saturday’s final qualifying session.  That virtually disintegrated the Dodge Stratus body with which he had just qualified (#15 at 4.173 secs).  Incredibly, Todd then had a similar and equally frightening incident while racing during round one of FC eliminations on Sunday. 

After he and the entire Jim Dunn Racing team worked hard into the wee hours of Sunday morning making extensive repairs, the car again detonated – this time at about half track which completely destroyed the team’s other Chevy Monte Carlo body.  As bizarre as fate can be, Todd still managed to win the round as the now barren and flaming chassis crossed the finish line first (5.24 to 5.82) versus #2 qualifier Jack Beckman who had smoked the tires earlier in the run.

The damage was so severe that the team could not make repairs for the next round.  That decision was made because of a couple of harsh realities, more time was needed to determine the root cause of why it happened (again) and also the simple fact that the team had expired its supply of parts (aka: FC bodies) for the weekend.

“We actually seemed to have the car running pretty well,” Todd said.  “We had made some upgrades and it was making more power then it ever has before.  I’m not really sure what happened in both incidents.  It’s frustrating to qualify and then win a round at such a prestigious race and then not be able to continue.”

“I don’t feel good about what happened to the car this weekend but it is the nature of the game in this class and just part of racing nitro.  I’m feeling a bit beat up and sore.  It’s a little bit like after training camp in football – it will take a couple days for me to recover.”

For the team, the cost easily exceeded $100,000 in damage.

 Todd’s incidents at Indy are without doubt some of the most bizarre set of circumstances in the history of the NHRA U.S. Nationals event.  If you can take away a positive from it they both went viral on-line and the media exposure went international – which earned Todd a legend of new fans and got his valued sponsors some serious exposure.  And because of it Todd’s name will be permanently etched in the annuals of the event’s fabled history. 

I believe that it’s also safe to say that in time you can be assured that the Indy 2012 experience will also make Todd even more determined and more resolute about his future in the fuel FC class.

It didn’t go exactly as planned — but Canada’s Todd Lesenko certainly got the attention of the drag racing world last weekend.

For more information on Todd Lesenko and his 2012 racing season campaign visit:

Photos and Posting by:  Bruce Biegler