There’s a fine line in drag racing between perfection and disaster; you can walk right up to that line and see epic performance numbers, but the second you cross it, bad things will happen. Graham Lilly, unfortunately, found that line behind the wheel of his 103E model Ford Popular at New Zealand’s Masterton Motorplex. His short wheelbase ride went from rocketing down the track to barrel rolling in terrifying fashion in the blink of an eye.
Lilly’s ride, the Ford Popular 103E, was only available in Britain and Australia during the 1950s. The car was marketed as an economical form of transportation and it was lightweight — the perfect starting point for hot rodders. With the stock 1172cc engine removed and a V8 crammed into the 1,624-pound chassis, these cars became instant pocket-rockets at the track.
During the Masterton Motorplex Nationals, Lilly was pushing his small-block-powered Ford ride deep into the 9.70s at well over 139 mph all weekend. During one of his passes, things went wrong bigtime and Lilly experienced every racers’ worst nightmare. Both Lilly and his opponent got off the line as planned but things went downhill from there for both racers. For Lilly’s opponent, a hood failure caused him to abort his run early and possibly keep this crash from being much worse. Lilly’s Ford made a slight move to the left and hooked hard right towards the wall hitting it head-on before it began to tumble across the track.
Thankfully, Lilly wasn’t injured but as you can see from the footage captured by Pete’s Videos at the top end, this was a violent crash.