Twenty-four year-old drag racer Katrina “Kat” Moller died in a high-speed racing accident on Thursday evening at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway while making an exhibition run in her Larsen Motorsports American Dream jet dragster. Moller, from Sarasota, Florida, was making an exhibition pass on a temporary 1/8-mile dragstrip on the famed road course venue’s main straightaway when she crashed and succumbed to her injuries.
According to eyewitness Mark Silver, who was positioned in the spectator area near the starting line, the parachute on Moller’s American Dream dragster failed to deploy at the close of the run.
“She did her normal staging process, then made a full pass. At the 1/8-mile I did see what looked like a small parachute, which is the one that pulls out to deploy the main chute,” Silver explains. “But there was no main chute. After crossing the cones, I saw her swerve all the way into the right lane, then she appeared to hit the right lane wall and kept going. All of the safety personnel and the ambulance went down to the end of the track.”
Although unconfirmed, Moller’s dragster is believed to have struck the wall and/or tire barrier at the turn on the road course at the strip’s terminus.
“It’s so sad that she lost her life,” said Silver. “She did do what she loved to do and she seemed very happy and excited right before she did her run.”
Having grown up around drag racing, Moller began racing Junior Dragsters at the age of eleven. She later competed behind the wheel of a sportsman Mustang, a Super Pro class Chevy Vega, her father’s alcohol-burning Corvettes West dragster, and even her street-legal Corvette. She licensed in a Larsen Motorsports jet dragster in 2013 and began her professional exhibition racing career in 2014.
A former International Baccalaureate student in high school, Moller furthered her studies at the University of South Florida, majoring in Mechanical Engineering while forging her racing career with team owners Elaine and Chris Larsen and their vast jet dragster racing operation. Moller later attended graduate school at Florida Tech.
Chris Larsen, CEO of Larsen Motorsports, expressed his sympathy for Moller’s family in their difficult time, stating, “Kat has been part of our racing family for five years and we cannot begin to express our sorrow. Your prayers in this very difficult time are appreciated.”
“We knew Kat well and were big fans of her personality and her driving skill,” said Wayne Estes, president and general manager of Sebring International Raceway. “Sebring International Raceway and the entire racing community are heartbroken.”
In her final Instagram post made on Wednesday, Moller alluded to her excitement at performing for the crowd at Sebring the following day, commenting “Excited to head to historic @sebringraceway tomorrow night!”
Moller is the second jet dragster pilot killed in an accident on a non-drag-racing-specific circuit in 2018; jet car icon Doug Rose lost his life in August while performing at Michigan’s Norway Speedway in his legendary Green Mamba dragster.