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11/16 2018

JET CAR RACER KAT MOLLER LOVED GOING FAST, DIES IN CRASH AT 24

Jet car racer Kat Moller loved going fast dies in crash at 24

For the past five years, Kat Moller had been part of the four-car Larsen Motorsports jet car team.

 

Qualified pilot who also liked John Force, chicken fingers killed in accident at Sebring on Thursday

BY:  STEVEN COLE SMITH

Katarina Moller liked chicken fingers, French fries, Batman, drag racer John Force, and cats – actually, she loved cats – but the thing she loved the most was going fast. And you can’t go much faster than in a jet-powered dragster.

For the past five years, Kat Moller had been part of the four-car Larsen Motorsports jet car team, led by veteran jet car racer Elaine Larsen and her husband, Chris.

Thursday, making an exhibition run at the self-sanctioned, eighth-mile drag strip that Sebring International Raceway fashioned on the road course’s front straight, Moller was killed when she crashed her American Dream jet dragster. Reportedly the front of her car struck the box in the center of the two lanes that holds the timing equipment at the end of the eighth-mile, sending the car into the road course’s turn one wall.

This is the second fatal crash involving a jet dragster this year. Jet car legend Doug Rose crashed his Green Mamba into a barrier while performing at Norway Speedway, a paved oval track, last August. Rose, who was 80, died at the scene.

Moller racer

Sebring International Raceway holds drag races on Thursday nights from 6 to 10 p.m.; $20 to race, $5 to watch. The cars must be street-legal. The Larsen jet team, including Moller, have appeared there previously in exhibition-only runs. The team was scheduled to appear next at the 37th Annual Citrus Nationals at Palm Beach International Raceway on November 24th.

At Sebring, the makeshift drag strip has the cars stage beneath the Michelin bridge coming out of the final road course turn, and typically uses an old-school hand-drop to start match races. The eighth-mile length leaves plenty of room for street-legal cars to slow before making the turn off the track just prior to the turn-one lefthander at the end of the straight – less room for a jet dragster.

“We knew Kat well and were big fans of her personality and her driving skill,” said Wayne Estes, president and general manager of the track. “Sebring International Raceway and the entire racing community are heartbroken.” She was a fan favorite, tirelessly signing hero cards and visiting with the crowd, especially small children.

The Palm Bay, Florida-based Larsen team, which has run an aggressive January-through-December schedule this year, builds and maintains their own cars and has a commendable safety record. Like many jet cars, theirs are powered by 5,000-horsepower General Electric J-85 engines, which were used in a number of aircraft, including the T-38 Talon and T-2 Buckeye during the engine’s long production run, which ended 30 years ago.

Moller image

“Kat has been part of our racing family for five years, and we cannot begin to express our sorrow,” said Chris Larsen, in a statement Thursday night.

Next to Elaine Larsen, Kat Moller was the most experienced driver on the team. Following in her father’s footsteps – he is Tom Moller, owner of Corvettes West, a highly-respected body shop in Sarasota, Florida, which is Kat’s hometown – she began racing in junior dragsters at age 11. She moved up quickly to a sportsman Ford Mustang, then her father’s alcohol-powered rear-engine dragster. Her brother, Tommy, races drift cars.

Even while competing, Kat managed to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

On Wednesday, Kat tweeted: “Excited to head to historic @sebringraceway tomorrow night! #respectthebumps.

Road course racers have longed used #respectthebumps on Twitter, reflecting the fact that Sebring’s mostly concrete surface is the roughest track on the IMSA circuit. Any investigation of Kat Moller’s crash is likely to address the effect the front straight surface may have on a car moving as fast as her car was.

There is no question, though, Kat Moller was more than qualified to race the American Spirit – when she started out, she was the youngest jet dragster pilot in the world. In a 2013 interview published in the Tampa Bay Times, Elaine Larsen said she knew Kat was a pro from the start. “When you see her in real life, she’s this sweet, innocent little girl. Then you see her in a race car, and nothing could be further from that. She’s brutal.”

“I just love the speed,” Kat said in a video posted on her Facebook page, alongside a video of her proudly showing off the little gingerbread house she made. “It’s exciting. There’s nothing else like it. I just want to keep going faster.”

Katarina Moller was 24.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/378800000334912302/eb102c5528080ab2115f45ad72a6ef33_normal.jpeg

Kat Moller@KatMollerRacing

Excited to head to historic @sebringraceway tomorrow night! #respectthebumps #Repost https://ift.tt/2PsNPhW 

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10:44 AM – Nov 14, 2018