On October 28, 2012, Antwaine Hobbs found himself on the wrong end of what could have been a complete disaster. In fact, photos of the ravaged coupe might have you thinking that things couldn't possibly have gone any worse. But we're looking at the big picture here. Yes, the chassis is a total loss and with it goes far too much blood and sweat for most to even fathom, but there's no sign of tears here. The reality is, Hobbs was able to walk away virtually injury-free. He was able to go home that night and kiss his wife. He's able now, after a few months of reflection, to look back and share his story with us.
In his words:
"You spend a couple of years and a countless number of hours, including time away from work and family, to build this machine. Then, for it to be snatched away from you in no more than a second, it sounds like a bad nightmare, right? Well, it's reality for me. The week started off as usual, rush, rush, rush, to get prepared for the IFO Baytown race. Got the car prepared and on the dyno with Tony Palo behind the laptop, as usual. After a few pulls, we made an easy 944 hp at 38 psi. Finally, race day is here! We get the car off the trailer and walk the track. We're ready for the first round of qualifying. I'm staged, both bulbs, light drops to green, and I'm off. Car felt great in the first few gears, and the eighth mile was a 6.0 at 133 mph. I knew by the eighth that this felt faster than I'd ever gone before. Now I'm passed the eighth and going down the home stretch when I see white smoke from my tire and I'm loosing traction. I lost control and tried to save it by spinning and didn't quit make it. I hit the wall at 131 mph, and I had no clue what had actually happened because it rang my bell. Fortunately, I walked away and I'm currently the third-fastest 67mm car in the country, as well as the quickest FWD car in Texas and the South Central region with a 9.04 at 159 mph.
"Initially I was just sore and it really hadn't sunk in that I'd lost so much. The car did crank the next morning, but that's all I did to it. Then the slow teardown began while salvaging every little thing possible. I didn't skimp on any safety equipment, and that's the only thing that saved my life. The next car will have way more time in safety and chassis work than this car because I understand now how important it all is. Next time you see the car out, it will be on a new platform with plenty of new innovative ideas. Just to name a few: a new Forced Performance 72mm, most of the fabrication will be done by Michael Morris at MAKK Performance, and an all-new revamped engine and ignition harness from Rywire.com. Additionally, a new Sheepey Inc. forward facing manifold and drag wheels from Balek Industries. I had a setback, but I'm not done at all...so stay tuned."
HT: Give us a rundown of exactly what caused the white smoke and the loss of traction.
Hobbs: The head lifted, causing extreme pressure in the cooling system. I had hard aluminum line with rubber couplers keeping them together. Well, the rubber coupler gave way from the pressure and water landed right on my front driver's side slick. The white smoke was the water hitting the slick and the hot brakes, and that caused steam. Car instantly pulled left and hit the wall, then slingshot back across the track. I tried my hardest to swing the car around, and the emergency opening at the track ended my spin.
HT: When the initial puff of white smoke showed up, do you remember what you were thinking?
Hobbs: In a short time, several things went through my mind. First thing I said to myself was, "What the f*** is that?! Oh well, keep going." Then I thought I'd blown the motor-oh well. Split second later and I'd rather not say because, well, I'd just rather not.
HT: With the loss of traction so late in your run, did you recognize what was happening, or was it just a complete blur?
Hobbs: I was pretty focused initially, but I didn't understand why I lost traction. The car went down the first 1,000 feet perfectly straight, so it was just strange. I just knew I needed to do something and it better be fast to save the front end.
HT: After the spin, once the car finally settled, what did you do? Do you recall track workers pulling you out, or were you able to get out on your own?
Hobbs: The first words out of my mouth were, "How did this happen?" I was slightly dazed (more like a concussion), and I didn't realize how bad it was until the workers ran up to me. They honestly seemed to be untrained. The reason I can say that is because of what my profession is (firefighter). They tried opening a crushed door when there was a good, untouched passenger door. Just needed a little TLC to open it. I still had sense enough to point at another racer (Tim Masker) who ran over to help. I motioned to him to open my passenger-side door, which he did, and then I climbed out that side.
It would have taken those guys five hours to pull me out (lol), but I'm grateful they tried. Always "try before you pry." EMS asked me to get in the ambulance, which I didn't want to do. They asked me all the questions I ask my patients, and I answered them and began to become frustrated. They wouldn't let me go after I'd answered what they required of me. Technically, by law, they should let me sign refusal of treatment and off I'd go. One medic told me I couldn't leave because my blood pressure was 150/90. I yelled and said, "Wouldn't your BP be up if that just happened to you?!" Then I stormed out of the ambulance. Honestly, I was more worried about the wrecker tearing up the good parts after I realized I had all my limbs.
HT: You're already building a new car for drag competition. Do you think the accident will affect you at the lights the next time you line up?
Hobbs: I'm sure the people watching my every move will be worse. No, it won't. I'll just drive like I always have. Driving is what I like; it's what I'm good at it, and it's fun. All the safety equipment will be in, and I'm not concerned. That situation will not happen again. I think the new cool phrase to say is, "I'm about that life." Trust me, I was about it way before Kanye said it!