If it hasn’t already been said today, it probably bears repeating that for all the great advantages that nitrous oxide injection provides to drag racers, it should never, ever be taken lightly…regardless of how careful you are or how much experience you have in handling and using it.
Over the weekend, veteran Pro Modified racer Gary Courtier and the fans on hand at the Capitol Raceway in Maryland for the Northeast Outlaw Pro Modified Association event witnessed the potency of nitrous oxide first-hand, when Courtier’s beautiful 1968 Chevrolet Camaro suffered a massive nitrous explosion at the half track mark, igniting a relatively small fire that quickly became a raging inferno.
Courtier quickly got on the binders and brought the car to a halt alongside the guardrail, and by then, the flames had already grown beyond anything the onboard fire suppression system was going to successfully put out. Courtier jumped from the burning race car, and in what we can only imagine is one of the most helpless feelings in the world — could only watch as his race car burned before him, without any means to tackle it himself.
The Camaro burned for well over a minute before track safety personnel were able to tap it out with fire extinguishers, but the damage to the Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built machine was already done. All told, the fire virtually destroyed the entire hood, front end, and windshield, and did considerable damage to the roof and doors. Fires of this magnitude also typically cause a lot of destruction inside the cockpit, as well, not the least of which is the entire wiring system and other intricate electronics mounted on the dash and the firewall.
The Courtier team certainly has a long road ahead of them before returning to the quarter-mile, but most importantly, Courtier was able to climb from the red-hot race car without injury. It should also be noted that this incident occurred in the final round, and Courtier actually won the event, as opponent Ed Burnley shook the tires early and shut off, allowing Courtier’s burning race car to cross the finish stripe first.
Credit to TheRacingVids for the footage