Just three weeks ago, Drag Week star Tom Bailey and engine builder and co-pilot Steve Morris were out galavanting around Fort Myers, Florida enjoying the fruits of their labor — and a little ice cream — in the world’s quickest street car. But drag racing has an innate ability to take one from a place of joy and tranquility to the lowest of lows in seconds, and Bailey’s season debut at the NHRA Gatornationals spanned that very spectrum.
Bailey and his 5.7-second, 250 mph, twin-turbo Camaro were invited by the NHRA to take part in a street car exhibition with Rod Tschiggfrie and his wild Oldsmobile in front of a relatively crowded house (crowded for being in the midst of a pandemic) at the Gainesville Raceway.
Bailey went 5.97 in testing before encountering mechanical woes and a bent wheelie bar on the first pass of a best-of-three match race with Tschiggfrie. But a warm weekend in sunny Florida turned hot for Bailey in the second stanza, when an injector O-ring failed, burning a cylinder and igniting on the hot exhaust piping. As you can see in the onboard video footage, the rapid rise in temperature under the nose also caused the fuel cell to over-pressurize and burst. Bailey quickly — but in a manner of calm we all should admire — got the “Sick Seconds 2.0” Camaro stopped in front of the NHRA Safety Safari and climbed from the car as the fire grew from visible smoke to sizable flame.
A damaged racecar isn’t the way anyone wants to begin a new year, but with the same composure he displayed while on fire, Bailey also used to accept the situation and the work he and Morris have ahead of them to clean, repair, and repaint their world record-holding machine.