James Kenneth Rambo was living his dream when he launched his Ford Pinto drag racer off the line at Sonoma Raceway on the evening of March 28.
A few seconds later, he lost control and hit a concrete barrier at more than 100 mph. He was living his dream when he died.
Rambo, 75, and his son had built the 1976 Ford Pinto themselves, equipping it with a roll cage, safety harness, and all the other safety systems the rules required, reported the Miamiherald.
Still, launching a human body down an asphalt track lined with concrete barriers using a series of controlled explosions is always a dangerous business.
After the wreck, Rambo’s son told KTVU reporter Paul Chambers that his father had a passion for drag racing, and he cannot believe his father is gone.
Solo Run Ends in Disaster
Rambo, of Napa, California, was taking part in Sonoma Raceway’s regular Wednesday Night Drags program.
He had already made at least one quarter-mile pass that evening before the run which was to be his last.
He was alone on the track at about 6:15 p.m. when at the end of his run, his brakes appeared to lock, sending him shooting into the left-hand barrier at over 100 mph, a spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sonoma Raceway spokeswoman Diana Brennan talked to KTVU after the wreck.
“This wasn’t his first time out here,” she said. “He had some experience with drag racing and had built this race car for that purpose.”
Brennan told the Chronicle this was the first on-track fatality in the 30 years that the track had been running Wednesday Night Drags.