You may have heard the saying, “fire is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.” Humans have harnessed fire in the form of the internal combustion engine and made it do some pretty amazing things, like deliver more than a thousand horsepower to the tires of this particular Vortech YSi-blown C6 Zo6 Corvette. But when it breaks loose from its shackles, it has no mercy – as we saw just a few days ago, when it consumed a nitrous-equipped Mustang at the dragstrip while the safety staff scrambled, ineffectively trying to stop it.
In this video, shot at the SlipStream 1/2 Mile Invitational by our friend Jesse Kleiber (better known on YouTube as BigKleib34) on March 25-26 at a disused Pennsylvania airstrip, we see a supercharged C6 Z06 Corvette trip the beams at more than 180 miles per hour, then burst briefly into flames on the return road. The driver, clad only in a helmet, T-shirt, and jeans, gets out, opens the hood, and chases what’s left of the fire with a hand-held extinguisher.
We’re not sure what caused the fire in the first place – it could have been a failed oil or fuel line or connection – but the only reasons this story has a happy ending (defined as “the car didn’t burn to the ground, and nobody got hurt”) are because the fire happened on the return road instead of the run, and because it more or less flared then went out on its own. We’re going to give props to the driver for having a fire extinguisher on-board, which is very useful for putting out small, lingering fires before they have a chance to grow. On the other hand, we’re going to issue a big thumbs-down for dressing for the drive, instead of the crash.
180 miles per hour is no joke, and engine failure or even a blown-out oil filter can put you in your own gravy in an instant. Having the few extra seconds of protection offered by SFI-rated apparel could mean the difference between life and death, and installing a built-in fire suppression system is a relatively small investment in keeping a car like this from becoming a total loss should a serious fire start.
We’ve also seen enough drivers walk away from their burning cars to know that in the heat of the moment (pun not intended) your only thought will be to get yourself out; practicing what you will do in case of fire will keep you from watching helplessly as you wait for the safety crew to arrive. None of this takes precedence over your personal safety, of course, but many fires that eventually kill race cars start small, and the right plan can prevent a lot of damage
- Key off/master switch off to stop electrical fires and keep the fuel pump from feeding the fire
- Shut off the nitrous supply if you’re running spray
- Employ your fire extinguisher if you carry one (which you should) – as the driver you will ALWAYS be the first on the scene of the fire!