The video starts off innocently enough; with a two-seater Roadster in the left lane and what appears to be a ’67 Camaro in the right lane competing at Florida’s Lakeland Dragstrip. The tree drops, the pair launches, and about 15 feet out the Roadster’s engine erupts into a ball of flame. A nitrous backfire caused the initial barbecue rolling, but that’s just the beginning. As the cameraman tracks the Camaro, the Roadster continues to simmer, eventually letting loose with a huge explosion that sends pieces of body panels flying everywhere. A series of similar explosions follows, each subsequent “BOOM” providing the fire with more fuel. The track crew does an admirable job of emptying a couple of extinguishers into the stubborn blaze, while a ridiculously-brave bystander wearing nothing more than a tee-shirt and shorts risks life, limb, and leg hair to help extricate the driver from the car.
The one-of-a-kind, two-seater ’37 Ford Roadster, driven by Mike Oldham, was featured here on Dragzine last December.
This incident is a great example of why going overkill on fire suppression systems is a good idea. If you’re running any type of power-adder, you need to have a fire system onboard in your drag car. The high pressure of nitrous oxide injection feeds the flames in the event of a solenoid failure, while the high-pressure and high-volume fuel pumps in blown and turbocharged entries are capable of pumping out your fuel tank in a matter of minutes. A fire system should consist of a minimum of four nozzles, two in the engine bay and two in the driver’s compartment. Secondly, be prepared. The driver in this instance walked away from the accident, but there are others who have not been so lucky in the past. You should know and practice your escape plan from your racecar, from every possible exit point – because accidents can and do happen.