View Full Version : Bricktown Drag Racing ends in a death

07-11-2005, 12:59 PM
I wonder if the death at the drag racing event this weekend will dampen organizers attempts to bring it back next year.

"Accident claims boat racer

By Aidan Tait and Jesse Olivarez
The Oklahoman

A 31-year-old Crockett, Texas, man died Sunday while participating in the inaugural Ozarka Bricktown Nationals drag boat racing competition, Oklahoma City Police said.

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David Skalicky died from injuries he suffered when he fell from his flat-bottom drag racing boat, Sgt. Mike Klika said.

He was taken to the OU Medical Center after emergency personnel at the scene attempted to revive him.

Kevin Baker, a spokesman for Oklahoma City Bricktown Water Sports, had no comment on the accident late Sunday.

Skalicky was one of two finalists in Sunday's Blown Glass Flat competition, an open- boat division where drivers reach speeds of 150 miles per hour in the quarter-mile course.

Skalicky rode in an open-air boat with no seat belt. Drag boat racing regulations require a canopy for boats that reach speeds exceeding 170 mph.

As Skalicky reached the starting line, his boat began oscillating from left to right before taking a sharp right turn that threw him out, witnesses said.

"When he hit the water, I knew it," said Shane Kluver of Clinton, who came to the event with his wife and children. "I kept saying out loud that he was all right, but he laid in the water for a long time with no movement."

While tumbling towards the water, Skalicky struck the left side of the boat, headfirst, witnesses said.

The contact forced the helmet from his head and it fell into the water, and he landed in the water face down, where he remained motionless until rescue boats positioned at the far end of the course reached him a few minutes later.

"In the crowd, everybody panicked," said Jim Dula, who was sitting 100 feet from where the accident occurred. "His helmet was floating 50 feet away from him, he wasn't moving, and everybody in the crowd was yelling 'Go get him!' I thought I could have swum out there and got him."

Race starter Gary Gray said Skalicky's boat performed a "chine-walk," where the chines -- metal pieces on the bottom of a boat -- hit the water at an odd angle and force the boat off course. The boat veered slightly to the right and then rocketed back to the left before making the sharp turn that sent Skalicky careening into the water.

The incident happened before the boat even reached top speed.

"Unfortunately, it was a slow-motion crash," said Gray of Hutto, Texas.

Gray has manned starting boats for the Southern Drag Boat Assocation for three years and has known Skalicky for close to a decade.

"I was the last person who talked to him, and it kills me," Gray said. "Before every race final, I ask the driver for his boat number and to give me a thumbs-up when he's ready. When he gives me the thumbs-up, I tell him 'Good luck.' That's what I told him."

While Gray's location prevented him from witnessing Skalicky's fall, he saw the boat continue moving without its driver after the accident.

A large group of fellow boat racers linked arms and surrounded the medics to prevent spectators from crowding the area, Kluver said. The announcer released no official information to the public and racing resumed shortly after the incident.

"I got a hint about what happened," Dula said. "The announcer said, 'We'll be back to drag boat racing in about 15 minutes, because that's the way he would have wanted it.' That's when I knew."

Skalicky was the first drag boat racer in his family and had been the SDBA points leader in the Blown Glass Flat division heading into Sunday's final.

He recently received his teaching certificate from Sam Houston State University and was an agriculture teacher at a local high school, Gray said.

"He was the person to beat in his event," Gray said. "He was a real heavy-hitter, and he was a religious drag boat racer."

Marcus Kinsey won the race by default, but the Marble Falls, Texas, native informed the crowd that he would donate his winnings to the Skalicky family. "