The Florida-based National Jet Racing Association (NJRA) announced its Festival of Fire Series, which will debut Jan. 25-26, 2019 at Palm Beach International Raceway with a pyrotechnic-themed program designed to both entertain and educate.
The brainchild of Melbourne resident and NJRA CEO Chris Larsen, 51, the Festival of Fire is designed to showcase a variety of vehicles powered by jet aircraft engines while providing unprecedented access to the drivers and team members responsible for their remarkable performance.
The competitive portion of the program will feature the jet dragsters of Larsen Motorsports including those driven by two-time IHRA Jet Champion Elaine Larsen, 24-year-old mechanical engineer Kat Moller, 21-year-old Florida Tech student Kat Redner, and 35-year-old Dewayne Hill, an eight-year United States Marine Corp Veteran who spent combat tours in Iraq as a machine gunner and is now a safety and security coordinator.
Jet funny car drivers include the sibling rivalry of United States Army veteran April Crownhart-Swan and her brother Danny Crownhart. Paul Sieli, who served in the United States Army’s Halo Skydiving Team with over 1000 free falls, now pilots his jet-powered Mustang.
Last but never least, check out this triple engine jet truck “Home Wrecker” driven by Jerry McCart. McCart started his racing career behind the wheel of go-karts at the age of 6 and continued with a successful career in motorsports finally fueling his passion in the jet racing category.
More than simply a competition among jet-powered vehicles, the Festival of Fire also will feature various displays, fire-breathing stilt walkers, pyro-acrobats and musical performers all operating under the supervision of a Master of Pyrotainment, a new-era version of the old circus ringmaster.
Before the shock-and-awe of jet-powered vehicles light up the night sky at the Palm Beach International Raceway, the NJRA, in association with Blazing Trails, its non-profit youth education initiative, will host a Friday morning field trip for students from Florida’s Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties.
Among the topics covered will be the science of a jet dragster and how science and math are applied to create vehicles capable of reaching 280 miles per hour in only 5.5 seconds. Among the visuals will be full-size cutaways of jet aircraft engines, demonstrations by working engineers at Larsen Motorsports on how chassis structures are designed and how cars are aerodynamically engineered for stability and airflow.
Participating students will have access to actual jet dragster driver compartments and the custom-made fixtures from which they are fabricated. Finally, Human Factors, Human Centered Design and Bio-Medical Engineers will demonstrate how customization and ergonomic designs are applied to support the G-force affect to the drivers’ bodies as they accelerate. With a focus on S.T.E.A.M. programs, the field trip will conclude with hands-on demonstrations in welding, propulsion and other skills that challenge students to “think outside the box.”
The pyrotechnics begin Friday night with specialty arts, interactive displays from corporations, vocational and technical institutes and a round of jet car racing at 7 p.m. Gates will open Friday at 5:00 p.m. Saturday gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with full rounds of jet car racing at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Founded in 2010, the NJRA was formed to address the need for greater organization, safety, promotion, education and consistency among jet car owners and drivers. With Larsen as CEO, Laura South as vice-president and Mike Mathes as CFO, the organization ultimately evolved into an entertainment and education platform.
NJRA is SFI, NHRA and IHRA accepted.