Nitrous oxide is both a wonderful thing and a fickle thing: get it right and you’ll be like a kid in a candy store — get it wrong and you’ll be fetching parts of your car off the race track. While it’s far more common in drag racing circles to see nitrous oxide backfires and explosions through the intake manifold and carburetors/throttle bodies, it also can expel itself in grand fashion through the exhaust under the right circumstances. This can result from a number of different scenarios, including a lean or rich fuel mixture, filling the combustion chamber with nitrous prior to startup or too much nitrous for a given engine rpm, or, in the case of a diesel engine, perhaps from leaving partially combusted fuel in the chamber that reignites on the initial exhaust stroke.
Regardless of the reason or the cause, it’s nothing to take lightly, because a backfire through the exhaust can be as dangerous as one that blows the hood or the scoop off, as diesel racer and enthusiast Jesse Warren proved at the Ultimate Callout Challenge earlier this summer.
Warren, who operates Warren Diesel in Pennsylvania, made the trek out west to Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City, Utah for the Ultimate Callout event in his 1,000-plus horsepower, 6.0L Ford F-350 pickup, but ended up with more than he bargained for when the truck backfired through the exhaust while he attempted to crank the engine over, creating a massive explosion that clearly scared the daylights out of everyone within earshot.
If you look closely, you can see an entire section of the exhaust tubing become a projectile as it exits stage right and bounces off the concrete guardrail — luckily missing the man standing directly next to the truck when it goes off (he might have been short of hearing for a while, though). The man behind the camera, from Toxic Diesel Performance, summed it up well with his calm and collected “whoa” and “dang”.