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"Hero to Zero" or "Surviving my First Fire"


disasterman

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disasterman

Racing at Blackhawk for the first time, NASA GTS 3. Kind of dangerous track with lots of trees and other hard stuff that is very close. Started 2nd in class, worked up to first, second overall and then.........coming onto the front straight, just past pit entry.......KABLOOEY! Actually just sounded like a lot of parts rattling around, not that exciting.....but....my crewman on radio, who was right there, calmly pointed out "you are on fire, I repeat, you are on fire, pull your exinguisher now" in a very nonchalant, calm manner. The cabin immediately filled with smoke as I moved off line and coasted up to the turn one flag station for some fire retardent relief. Pretty funny that I remember using my turn signal indicator as I moved off line. I waited until I slowed a bit before I pulled the fire retardent handle, which I could not see. I felt the spray on my legs and lap. Within 20 yards of corner station, I disconnected my net and pushed it out the window, I did not even consider bothering with the door. I unclipped my haness when I figued I was far enough off track and close to stopping in case I got hit from behind, there was a massive cloud of smoke from the oil fire. I climbed out within a few seconds, it took two attempts, my Hans was caught so I ducked a little lower and stepped out into the sunshine. I was glad that every time I get out of the car, I do so with my Hans and helmet on to practice my "duck & exit".

 

I wear a Stand 21 helmet and used to run with the visor and open face. I switched to the lense and race with it down after reading the Espenlaub article in Grass Roots. Although there was no fire in the cabin, it did provide me with a little relief breathing and keeping the oily smoke out of my eyes.

 

Although the cabin was not on fire, only choked with smoke and kind of hot, the car was in flames underneath the entire chassis. The starter and NASA officials on the starting platform said there were huge flames coming out from the side and behind the car and that the heat was intense. The official NASA photographer said he may have some photos as he was on the stand as well. The Blackhawk corner worker was on the car as soon as it stopped, the fire truck seconds behind. Great job and much appreciated, saving the car.

 

What happened - engine let go and punched out the pan near the turbo, resulting in the ignition of 7 quarts of Amsoil.

 

We got the car home and cleaned the extinguisher powder off.

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Sterling Doc

Jim, thanks for posting this over here - good reminder to us all about good preparation & safety equipement.

 

Maybe you can broaden your disaster restoration business to include cars!

 

For those who are interested, Jim had pictures up on his Rennlist post.

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disasterman

I posted at the good doctors suggestion. I appreciate the fact you remember what we do at ISC. The disasterman name, though seemingly appropriate for my track exploits actually is what I do for a living, Disaster Restoration in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and wherever there is a hurricane or disaster.

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Jim,

 

Being just behind you when you blew I got at least a few quarts of oil on my windshield. But I degrees.

 

Folks, just want you to all know what an incredible job Jim did bringing his wounded 951 home as safely as possible for all concerned - himself, fellow racers and the corner workers. The smoke & flames that were coming from the bottom of the car were intense. I have video that I'll upload later this eveing and will post the link on this thread.

 

Well done Jim.

 

Added video link:

 

Here's the video I spoke of earlier -

If you want to skip most of the race (including my off) and go right to Jim's smoky exit - advance to about 3:30 of the video. Dan Huberty might have of had a better vantage point and hence a bit better video of the incident.

Edited by Guest
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mcmmotorsports

All the more reason my next car will have an on board fire system and enough of my racing with my visor up.

 

Glad you are ok.

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Here's the video I spoke of earlier -

If you want to skip most of the race (including my off) and go right to Jim's smoky exit - advance to about 3:30 of the video. Dan Huberty might have of had a better vantage point and hence a bit better video of the incident.

Edited by Guest
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disasterman

Roy, I am going to have to charge you for that Amsoil! Wait until you see the photos, I got an advance look. Ted was on the tower as I went by and took photos on approach and after I went by. I was shocked see the extent of the fire.

 

I also want to comment that I could not ask for a better group of people to spend the weekend with and race against.

 

Thanks!

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cstreit911

I wanted to thank you for having the presence of mind to pull way off line when you realized what happened. I could see the oil path leading down the straight and you could see that you moved over as soon as you could keeping the oil off the race surface. Definitely helped prevent a second incident. Hope the car comes back together quickly!

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Good point about practicing your car exit w/ your helmet/Hans all on and in place... also good that you ahd the presence of mind to think about getting hit before getting out of the car.

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Sorry about your loss and glad you're ok.

 

You can PU a 944NA motor cheap and run GTS1!

 

John, We're not letting Jim out of GTS 3 midwest. Great competitior and way too much fun - though, he's kind of getting kinky with that Amsoil stuff. He likes to put it on his car as well as others.

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John Graber

Just trying to get him back in action on the cheap. You know these GTS1 cars cost nothing so I thought it was a good option. Plus I thought all you MW GTS3 guys were moving to SM...

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Just trying to get him back in action on the cheap. You know these GTS1 cars cost nothing so I thought it was a good option. Plus I thought all you MW GTS3 guys were moving to SM...

 

 

Just the opposite. Yes, it was sad to lose Kyle and I know if he chooses SM he'll be a force. GTS 3 MW is growing very nicely. Next month at Autobahn we should have at least four cars and by the end of the season we'll be looking at a grid of 7 or 8 cars.

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disasterman

I do not know how long this is going to take. When the engine comes out a number of improvements are slated so it could add 60 days to the project.

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