Drag racer killed during NHRA eliminations at Pacific Raceways

Mark Niver, a veteran Top Alcohol Dragster driver on the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, was killed in a racing accident at Pacific Raceways on Sunday during the NHRA Northwest Nationals.

Niver, 60, of Phoenix, died after after making a semifinal run down the quarter-mile strip. Niver, who had defeated Shawn Cowie in the elimination race, had deployed his parachute to slow down his dragster at the end of the track. However, the chute snapped and the car zipped past the shutdown area and into the fenced sandpit area, a last-resort safety-net zone. After the dragster was stopped, Safety Safari crews rushed to the scene and pulled the driver from the wreckage. He soon died from the injuries.

The Sheriff’s Office was called by the track at about 3:40 p.m. By the time deputies arrived, Niver had died.

The Sheriff’s Office major accident detectives and NHRA officials are investigating the accident.

In response to the tragedy, no trophies were handed out by the major division winners. It was third death on an NHRA national event this year, and the first NHRA-sanctioned drag-racing fatality at the track. Niver’s most recent NHRA national event victory came at the Kent event two years ago, a season in which he also won the national event in Topeka. Niver was runner-up earlier this year in Topeka in his last final-round appearance.

“I want to make sure everybody realizes that Mark Niver was a great competitor,” said Cory McClenathan, who won the Top Fuel win on Sunday. “He built every component in his race cars. I raced against Mark 20 years ago in Top Alcohol Dragster. This has to be about the family and what they’re going through and not about us, because this whole circle of people that travels around is our family. He’s a great individual, he always had a smile on his face, and he was a fantastic person.”

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