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2013 Mustang Cobra Jet dragster pops impressive wheelie, then crash lands

Justin Hyde

At drag strips across America, there's nothing quite like the late model Ford Mustang Cobra Jet -- a purpose-built, limited-edition drag racer designed to give leadfoots all the speed of a race car with the durability of factory assembly. This year, Ford made only 50 Cobra Jets, the top version of which comes with a 690-hp engine for $93,000. One of those 50 made an impressive wheelstand at a Maryland drag meet earlier this month -- followed by a less-impressive crunch into the wall.

Prepped by tuner Johnny Lightning Performance, this Cobra Jet had been impressive in earlier runs at the ABM Nationals in Cecil County, Md., scoring 8.9-second 1/4-mile drags at what seemed to be less than full power. Likely tuned well beyond 690 hp, the Cobra Jet lined up for its final heads-up run when it hangs in the air off the starting line.

A video from inside the car shows the driver yanking the wheel in the air -- a mistake that raised the chances the Cobra Jet would bite in the wrong direction when it landed. Given that a Johnny Lightning Cobra Jet had caught air in previous drag races, a pair of wheelie bars might have cut down on the showmanship but also reduced the chances of having to straighten out a $93,000 race car. The driver wasn't injured outside of a solid hit to his pride.