A Mustang GT350 had a major engine failure at Roebling Road Raceway in Georgia, sending a bunch of oil out of its oil filter adapter housing—oil that eventually touched something hot, and turned into a massive fireball. Here are some photos of the blaze and the aftermath, which can best be described thusly: holy shit.
According to the guy behind the wheel, Joe “HiPo Joe” Charles, a snap ring in his Mustang GT350’s oil cooler thermostat failed while he was driving hot lamps around Roebling Road back in April. The failed snap ring caused a plug to be pushed out of the oil filter adapter housing, sending loads of oil out of the engine. Joe thinks that oil touched the catalytic converter, and turned into a huge fireball.
But the fire wasn’t the only terrifying bit; perhaps just as terrifying was the fact that Joe, who was at the time traveling 100 MPH, lost all brakes.
It was the last session of the day, I had no idea it would come so close to being my last session ever…
On April 30, 2016 I was running a track event in my 2016 GT350 Mustang at Roebling Road. Being my second track event in the car I was slowly gaining confidence in the car and more especially myself. This was the most capable car I had ever driven on track and she was fast. I spent most of the day creeping up on my abilities behind the wheel and was nowhere near the capabilities of the car.
The forecast was hot and muggy so the organizers of the event announced that drivers of streetcars wouldn’t have to wear long pants. So I wore my standard everyday shorts and t-shirt along with my helmet and gloves.
I had been on the track about 15 minutes of the last session when I experienced a catastrophic engine component failure. This caused a massive oil leak. The oil ignited on the exhaust. If this wasn’t bad enough, the oil fire caused the main fuel line to rupture. At this point, the bottom of the car was fully engulfed. The fireball was two lanes wide and trailed behind the car at least 25’.
I had just exited the last turn onto the front straight when all hell broke loose. I was following a BMW and had just been given a “point by” to pass. I checked my mirrors and initiated the pass. As I’m accelerating pass the “yielding” BMW I was able to go from 3rd gear into 4th gear. This would have me running 125ish MPH as I was about to merge back in front of him. When I checked my mirrors again I saw the large fireball.
My first reaction was “Oh no, what’s happened to the BMW?!?”. Before I could even finish that thought I realized that the flames were coming from me. My very next thought was “Oh fuck, I’m on fire.” I knew I needed to get off the track, but the pit wall was to my right and the “racing line” and other fast cars were on my left. I lifted and started trying to slow the car down.
The heat from the flames must have been very intense as the brake fluid boiled and the brake pedal went to the floor. So now I’m still running 100+ MPH on fire with no brakes. By now I’m past the pit wall and I’ve made my way on to the grass running along side the track.