Scary Fire Story -- Vorra Fallon 250 2009

y2kbaja

Well-Known Member
This was posted on Vorra.net and I thought it was a good read. I have permission from Rick Massie to post it hear as it should make us all aware of how scary a fire can be. Car #124 and #125 are the 4-seat team cars to #24

#24 Rescue Racing Fallon 250 2009

When we left Sacramento for Fallon it was with a lot of anticipation of a great weekend of racing. The entire RR team had prepped the race vehicles each stripped down and every bolt, weld and component checked and rechecked. Everyone had given the max effort trying to make Fallon a 3 car finish for RR.

Maybe the most harrowing driving was done getting from Sacramento to Fallon via Interstate 80. Maneuvering the race trailer with all 3 race cars and gear down the grade from Truckee to Reno took more driving skill I think than the racing. Great job Jim Shipley! I know driving the motor home and the guys towing trailers all said it was white knuckle time.

We all pre-ran the course on Friday AM and shook down some last minute bugs such as fuel filter issues and replacing fuel cell pickup lines with different hoses for 124 and 125. But all in all we were ready as ready could have been to start the race Saturday afternoon.

I am going to let Dave Morton and Jeremy Bangs #124 give their own account of their Fallon race and I will only say congratulations to them for a 2nd place Class I finish. The same goes for Paul Ronald and Jeff Weaver #125 who finished 5th place Class I.


Jeff Hogsdon was navigating again for me in #24 and did a great job for the lap and half of racing. We started 4th off the line and by check 2 had caught everyone and had the #1 position until the lake bed where of course Sam Berry caught us and passed us. Man can that guy drive or what? Our pass on Shannon was just perfect timing as we caught him at the first “either/or” and took the short cut.

#24 was running perfect, all gauges were looking good as we crossed the start finish for lap #2. We thought we were beginning to settle into a race pace just behind Sam Berry that would be fast enough to stay ahead of the pack. We were resolved to knowing we could not beat Sam but if we can keep in his dust we would be in striking distance if a mishap over took him.

Lap 2 we passed Check 1 and started down the pipeline road at 6,000 RPM on the tack and in 3rd gear, around 115 MPH. About the third hump/jump we got airborne and the nose of the truck came up and stayed there for what seemed like 10 seconds of a “wheelie”. Robby Gordon’s got nothing on us. Again all the gauges showed temps, pressures and all components looking strong. The engine temp went up a little about mile 15 but not hot.

Jeff made note that the video tape just ran out and we would change it when we pit for fuel after lap 3. Just about that time the transmission started slipping just before the double XX marking the 4 whoops. As we showed to check the transmission out Jeff said, “we got a fire”. As anyone who has experienced a fluid fire knows it is small until you stop and then it erupts. As we were slowing to get off the track we started dropping the nets, loosing seat belts, pumper hoses and intercom etc all in anticipation of more fire upon stopping.

I have a repelling type helmet restraint system and had unbeknownst to me snapped the breast strap over the top of the seatbelt shoulder harness. When I snapped out of the seat belt harness I notice I could not get loose. This resulted in me not unplugging the air pump and intercom while trying to figure why I was not free. When we stopped as suspected the flames increased 100 fold and now were not just in the engine compartment but coming from any and all openings along the transmission tunnel. Anywhere the transmission fluid had been distributed was now on fire. Jeff pulled the in car fire suppression and it went out for about 2 seconds and then started again. Jeff was out of the car but I was trapped. Now the flames were really inside the car, the seat was on fire and the flames reached the parker pumper I think because all of a sudden my helmet filled with black smoke and I was still trying to get out of the car. Upon inspection the parker pumper filter element was burned and gone completely.

Now I can not see, I reached to turn the battery off and kill the pumper and anything else electric. But a few breaths of the black smoke and I could not move and either it was so black inside my helmet or I was out, I do not know. Suddenly Jeff, 6’3”, 230 grabbed me and out I came.

He says he could not see my face as the helmet was black inside with smoke. He opened up the visor and with fresh air I got my feet under me and we set to the task of trying to extinguish the truck that is now burning in the engine compartment, the transmission tunnel, and cockpit.

We exhausted our 3 hand held extinguishers and the fire just flamed right back up. A couple of racers stopped and lent a hand and extinguishers but in the end it took good old dirt and lots of it to put out the fire. Thanks to both of you guys you helped save the truck for sure. Note able our own team #124 just gave us the thumbs up and kept going. ???? What’s up with that??? I thought we were supposed to give them the thumbs up??? We need a team meeting. Totally out for gas and exhausted Jeff and I just sat there in disbelief and dejected.

#124 came by again and we jumped into the back seat headed for the main pit. They had a gear bag full of parts and such so we could not belt in and hung on for dear life. I must admit it thought it ironic to have escaped death by fire only to loose it in the back seat of #124 trying to catch Shannon.

Short race for us in #24 but long story and maybe the moral is two fold. #1. carry a shovel and #2. make sure your navigator is bigger than you!

I have been ordering new parts all week and can not wait to get back to Sacramento on go to work to get it ready for September. It appears that a transmission hose blew and it was the fluid on the exhaust that keep the fire going and starting every time again after we put it out with the extinguishers.
 

DuaneH

Well-Known Member
good read.....sorry to hear about your vehicle ........ glad to hear about you! Way to keep your wits as much as you did!
 

Tipracer

Well-Known Member
fire sucks...it is the only thing I am ever really worried about, and it is also the hardest thing to prepare for...good job getting out with your skin still attached
 

RFS Motorsports

Well-Known Member
Sorry to hear about the fire. What is important is that you got out of there. Sounds like Jeff really kept his cool and made the outcome a good one. You guys will race another day.
 

Wendell #527

Well-Known Member
Makes me think hard about when my wife is co-driver. I weigh 230 and I don't think she could have got me out. If that would have been me and her in that situation I probably would have died. Good story that should make all of us racers think. My kid is only 11 and he needs a Dad! I think I'm gonna practice getting in and out of my buggy more. There's more to it than some people think with the R3, parker pumpers, intercom, the hood latch, and all that. Thanks for the post.
 

harleys dad

Well-Known Member
Real glad you were not hurt(except wallet) and didnt lose the whole truck. I had a fire in my early days racing class 11, found out real quick that the extinguisher was a waste of time, good ol mother earth (DIRT) was the only way to put it out. Nearly burned the back off the Vw trying to put it out with fire extinguishers that racers stopped to give me. Didnt help with the gas fire like I thought it would.
 

Tyler7

Well-Known Member
that had to be way scary good to here that you guys got out ok and will race another day!
 

flyinbronco

Well-Known Member
Sounds like they dodged two bullets that day. First surviving the fire and then riding in the race car unbelted. Shame on you guys. I remember a racer being killed at the 500 a few years back when he caught a ride with another racer to the next pit and the truck rolled ejecting him. Better to wait for the chase crew next time.
 

monsterjamman24

Active Member
Sounds like they dodged two bullets that day. First surviving the fire and then riding in the race car unbelted. Shame on you guys. I remember a racer being killed at the 500 a few years back when he caught a ride with another racer to the next pit and the truck rolled ejecting him. Better to wait for the chase crew next time.
They probably didn't know they would not be able to buckle in by the sounds of it.
 

kim

Rescue 3
I have a repelling type helmet restraint system and had unbeknownst to me snapped the breast strap over the top of the seatbelt shoulder harness. When I snapped out of the seat belt harness I notice I could not get loose. This resulted in me not unplugging the air pump and intercom while trying to figure why I was not free.
WOW! Glad to know that you are your co-driver are safe. To me the above highlighted sentence is key. I really hope your story serves as a reminder to all race teams out there to not only train with your crews on the proper way to strap you guys in but also for the drivers to always, always recheck before the checkered flag drops.

Good job by your navigator keeping calm in that situation. And yes, a shovel is a must! Even a collapsible one you can pick up in military surplus stores.
 

tcm glx

Well-Known Member
Man, sorry to hear about the fire, but i think the teamwork between you two paid off. Moral of the story, do a few test runs of getting the hell out of your vehicle fast before race day... make sure to know what to disconnect and do it fast!
 

Sparky

Well-Known Member
Been in a burning race car - twice! Those are the scariest moments of your life. Glad you both got out OK! It gives you a whole new appreciation for Nomex and Carbonx.
 

frankh

Well-Known Member
Here our incar when we pulled up.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-jDOFNSjJs"]YouTube - tt24 fire at a vorra race[/ame]
 

y2kbaja

Well-Known Member
Your a class act Frank. Thanks for helping a fellow racer!
x2 on the class act. a little high on the camera angle, must have been pulling wheelies the whole time.

Actually class act to all that stopped. Harwell, Hines, I can see Steiger stopped, everyone that stopped. Thanks.
 
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