A DRAG racer reached speeds of over 130mph before his car flipped over 11 times and burst into flames, an inquest heard.
Kasey Dixon-Grainger, 23, died of multiple injuries suffered in the horror crash at the York Raceway track in Melbourne last August.
An inquest at Hull Coroners Court on Monday ruled out any suggestion that the track was at fault, but did raise questions about whether a fractured mechanical joint was responsible for the crash.
The safety of Kasey’s car and its suitablility for the race were also brought into question.
The court heard that Kasey, a motor enthusiast with six years racing experience, was on his second run of the day when he lined up against competitor Sandra Hughes.
Miss Hughes said that Kasey had ‘left her standing’, with his heavily modified Ford Cortina reaching a top speed of 132mph as it crossed the finish line.
But Kasey’s car appeared to veer to the right after crossing the line at the end of the straight quarter mile, before flipping end over end and setting alight.
Paramedics described struggling to see Kasey inside the car at first, before realising that his seat had become completely detached from the vehicle and that he was curled against the car door.
Despite attempts to resuscitate him, Kasey was pronounced dead at the scene.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Kasey’s father Paul, said: “I immediately ran across the track towards the car, I was halfway up the track when the car burst into flames, from there I could see it was all pretty chaotic.”
“I looked at him and feared the worst,” he added.
After the police released Kasey’s car, Mr Grainger, an experienced mechanic, inspected it himself and found a vital ‘rose joint’ connection between the car and its axle had a fatigue fracture.
He said that he was 99.9 per cent sure that this was the cause of the accident.
“I can’t prove it becaue of the condition the car was in when it was given back to me, but the rose joint is the prime suspect,” he said.
Neither the police’s vehicle inspector or the collisions investigator Ian Charlton initially cited the fractured rose joint as the probable cause of the crash but after Mr Grainger raised the issue, both admitted it was a possibility.
However, collision investigator Mr Charlton was also concerned that Kasey’s car seat had not been fitted using all six safety attachments and that his safety harness was not as secure as it should have been.
He said; “The fractured rose joint could result in loss of control, so this is one possible explanation, but without forensic examination we can’t say.
“The insecurity of the seat and safety harness must still be considered as a factor in the incident.”
The inquest also heard that Kasey’s car had a wooden floor which breached the rules of the drag racing club.
The trackday scrutineer Andrew Outhwaite admitted that if he had known about the wooden floor he would not have passed Kasey’s car as fit to race.
Coroner Geoffrey Saul returned a verdict of accidental death, but asked an inspector to work with the International Organisation of Professional Drivers and the Pennine Drag Racing Club, which organised the Melbourne event, to see whether vehicle safety tests could be improved in the future.
After the inquest, Kasey’s parents, who live in Cleveland, paid tribute to their ‘happy-go-lucky, outgoing and friendly’ son.
Mr Grainger said: “Racing was his main priority in life, everybody loved him at the track.
“He knew the risks and was quite happy to take them, as we all do.”
His mum Tanya, also a drag racer, said that in a way it made it easier for the family to witness the fatal accident.
She said: “It was watching him drive off and never coming back, rather than me being sat at home and hearing about it from someone else.
“The support from the drag racing community has been fantastic and we’d like to thank them for that,” said Tanya who added that a memorial fund is being set up in Kasey’s name to raise money for the sport.