What The Hell Is A Jet Dryer And Why Did Juan Man Crash Into It?

By | February 28, 2012

NASCAR Daytona 500 Jet Dryer Crash

*Let me pre-apologize for the terrible pun in the title.

NASCAR is absolutely crazy. For those who think it’s just a bunch of archaic vehicles traveling 200 MPH around a continuous left turn, you’re totally, completely right. NASCAR is fundamentally based on the idea of completely avoiding change. One change they really don’t like is weather. Rain can delay a huge event like yesterday’s Daytona 500 for an entire day to avoid racing on a wet track. Rain and slick racing tires is a dangerous equation for NASCAR drivers.

So what happens when cars are already on the track and it starts to pour? NASCAR’s solution is to bring out something called a jet dryer, a contraption where a truck drives around a jet engine mounted to the back that quite literally and instantaneously boils away any moisture on the track. It also serves double duty by blowing away excess debris on the track left my previous crashes, of which there had been several prior to that moment. These trucks are fully loaded with jet fuel and turn out to be quite the dangerous obstacle for stock cars passing by, as one veteran yet win-less for 397 races NASCAR driver named Juan Pablo Montoya quickly found out last night.

Despite planning to pass the jet dryer at a reasonable speed during a caution caused by the weather and on-track debris from crashes, Juan lost control of his car at the start of a long turn, slamming into the backend of the truck and causing an eyebrow-melting explosion that stopped the race for hours. Very surprisingly, no one was hurt including Juan and the driver of the jet dryer.

**UPDATE** Turns out wet track isn’t to blame for Montoya losing control. Critical parts on his car’s suspension failed at the worst possible moment, causing a right hand turn at the exact moment he was passing the jet dryer.**

So if you ever need to explain NASCAR to a friend, just say it’s a series where 200 MPH cars that can’t drive in rain race around damp tracks littered with jet-fuel laden trucks. I’d watch that. Wouldn’t you?

Take a look at video footage from the race:


Guest on February 29, 2012 at 5:59 am.

OK, I get that you’re trying to be funny, but the facts are all wrong.

The track was not wet. The dryers were out there to blow debris off the track from a prior incident. Juan’s car was not sliding on wet pavement, his suspension/drivetrain broke as he was driving down the backstretch causing his car to lose control in a very unfortunate location.

Chad Waite on February 29, 2012 at 9:04 am.

Good call- checking out some updated sources, it does look like Montoya’s suspension did break. We were reporting off of what the announcers were saying in the video, which they did say the jet dryers were being used to dry the track during that caution.

I’ve made an update on the article to reflect the broken suspension.

Matthew S. Davis on February 29, 2012 at 9:07 am.

Very unfortunate location indeed. 

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