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Fire: the facts?


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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 06:12

It occurs to me that we've had Nomex and other types of fireproof driving suits for about 35 years now. Bill Simpson and others have ridden it for a goldmine, and to be sure, there have been drivers who have owed their lives to the development.

Of course, there have also been cases where nothing could help... and that sadly will always be the case.

But I wonder just what impact these suits have made? How many cases can you think of where they have, in reality, saved a driver or crewman?

Obviously, the crew tending Jos Verstappen's Benneton at Hockenheim would be among the first you'd think of...

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#2 Kuwashima

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 06:21

[OT aside]
Makes me wonder if a few spare F1 fireproof suits could be sent to the workers battling the bushfires west and south of Sydney at the moment...
[/OT aside]

:(

#3 Buford

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 06:32

Obviously it has saved hundreds of drivers although effective fuel cells have probably saved even more. In the 60's and 70's, nearly every wall hit on the ovals resulted in a fireball. Then the Nomex was the only barrier for driver protection. It came just too late to save Bobby Marshman at a Phoenix practice run and of course nothing could save Sachs and MacDonald if they had it. But in the 80's and since, major fires are rare. I think one of the most amazing examples was Berger at Imola who sat in a huge fire for over 30 seconds before they could get there and beat it down and he only suffered some hand burns. I saw Tom Sneva at a Sprint Car race a couple weeks after his turn 2 flip at Indy in 75 or something. He had blisters all over his upper body he showed us. This came not from fire burns, but his sweat that had boiled inside his suit from the fire all around the outside of the car.

I personally survived two fireballs in the 70's. Now a quarter century later, both stories are pretty funny and demonstrate the inadequacies of the safety even in those days, compared to now. But those stories are rather lengthy so I will spare you the details unless there is a groundswell clammering to hear more, ha ha.

#4 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 09:02

Berger at Imola in 1989 is the only case that I can recall when a driver certainly would have recieved enormous injuries or perished. Diniz could have received serious burns in Argentina 1996

#5 fines

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 14:13

Originally posted by Buford
I personally survived two fireballs in the 70's. Now a quarter century later, both stories are pretty funny and demonstrate the inadequacies of the safety even in those days, compared to now. But those stories are rather lengthy so I will spare you the details unless there is a groundswell clammering to hear more, ha ha.

What do you expect from TNF? Well? :) :D :lol: :p

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 December 2001 - 14:18

Yeah, Buford... let's hear your saga of your brushes with death (or serious disfigurement...)...

#7 condor

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 00:46

How many makes a groundswell?

Is 3 enough? :)

#8 Buford

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 00:55

Well I was expecting something in the range of the Amon stories thread : .

Actually though, it would take some time to type out and I am kind of busy so if there is little interest that's fine. It saves me time I need for other stuff.

#9 condor

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 01:01

Well it has to be said - but the thread title isn't that awe inspiring - so not surprising there haven't been too many posts on this one :)

#10 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 01:16

I use my Momo gloves around the kitchen during the off season

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 01:43

Won't they become poly-unsaturated or something?

I'm sure they will be good stories, Buford, look forward to them.

#12 condor

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 01:50

Buford - might I suggest you start your own thread entitled

I survived a fireball


Now that's very tabloid :) but should get more hits :)

#13 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 01:53

:stoned: Just dont title it "there's a fire in my pants" or we'll have to move it to PC :lol:

#14 Buford

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 02:37

"Just dont title it "there's a fire in my pants" or we'll have to move it to PC "

He He. Obviously you don't know what I do for a living!

#15 Buford

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 02:41

"Buford - might I suggest you start your own thread entitled
I survived a fireball Now that's very tabloid "

Actually it would have to be "I SURVIVED TWO FIREBALLS!!!" Or maybe it should say three because there was a failed attempted rescue once too.

But maybe the best way to get attention in a headline would be

"I AM MAKING A FORTUNE FROM BARE BREASTS!!!"

That ought to do it, eh?

#16 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 02:41

I checked around :love:

#17 condor

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 14:16

Originally posted by Buford

Actually it would have to be "I SURVIVED TWO FIREBALLS!!!" Or maybe it should say three because there was a failed attempted rescue once too.

But maybe the best way to get attention in a headline would be

"I AM MAKING A FORTUNE FROM BARE BREASTS!!!"

That ought to do it, eh?



I think the Fireball title , whether 1,2 or 3 is the better title :)

#18 unrepentant lurker

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 21:48

Lauda I presume was wearing nomex when he had his big crash at the Ring.

As for firefighting in nomex suits, that just isn't a really practical. Firefighters need waterproof suits which nomex just isn't (althogh, I think the lining inside is nomex)

#19 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 05 January 2002 - 21:50

They should make flags out of Nomex. That way you can try to torch them until you have no eyebrows, but no one is really offended :clap:

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#20 HistoricMustang

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 14:53

My apology, but did not want to start an additional thread on what could be a simple explanation.

Any ideas on what is taking place in this photograph?

Henry :wave:

http://api.ning.com/...FIREBIRD021.jpg

#21 Ivan

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 15:00

My sig may help with that one. ;)

Edited by Ivan, 14 September 2009 - 15:01.


#22 Chezrome

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 15:21

Lauda I presume was wearing nomex when he had his big crash at the Ring.

As for firefighting in nomex suits, that just isn't a really practical. Firefighters need waterproof suits which nomex just isn't (although, I think the lining inside is nomex)


Yes Lauda wore nomex, but he was unfortunate in that aspect, that his helmet was torn off in the crash against the barrier, with his nomex-balaclava... at least, I am sure about the helmet, not about the other headgear.

Furthermore, it was not the fire itself that was the most dangerous in that accident but the fumes of the fire... I think. That was what almost killed him.

#23 Chezrome

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 15:22


Oh, and...

I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires!

Is that tsunami enough?

#24 Tony Matthews

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 18:05

Any ideas on what is taking place in this photograph?

Just running a bit rich...

#25 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 18:10

Always use a secondary fuel cap.

#26 ZOOOM

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:44

I thought they outlawed those pressurized refueling rigs years ago...

ZOOOM

#27 Tony Matthews

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 08:02

Oh, and...

I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires! I want Bufords tale of fires!

Is that tsunami enough?

How many more times do we have to say it? Deaf ears, I think, sadly...

#28 stuartbrs

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 08:52

The Pedro Diniz fire had a pretty clever headline attached to it... "Diniz in the oven"

#29 Coral

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 11:24

The Pedro Diniz fire had a pretty clever headline attached to it... "Diniz in the oven"


...not to mention "Don't Fry for Me Argentina". :lol:

#30 Tony Matthews

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 11:39

...not to mention "Don't Fry for Me Argentina". :lol:

Both very funny - I remember the Diniz one from the time.. However, I was less than happy to see, in Jo Siffert's obituary, that he had 'a burning ambition to go motor-racing...' Probably just poor translation or something, but a sad choice of phrase.

#31 Catalina Park

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 08:00

Both very funny - I remember the Diniz one from the time.. However, I was less than happy to see, in Jo Siffert's obituary, that he had 'a burning ambition to go motor-racing...' Probably just poor translation or something, but a sad choice of phrase.

I read one obituary for a driver that died from a heart attack on the race track that said "Our heart goes out to...."


#32 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 08:04

What do you expect when obituaries follow the same cliched format? Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time. You can barely read the typeface through the tear smudged ink.

#33 Allan Lupton

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 09:57

I read one obituary for a driver that died from a heart attack on the race track that said "Our heart goes out to...."

The classic from years ago was said to have been the sermon at the funeral of a locomotive driver who had been killed when the boiler burst, which referred to "our esteemed friend . . ".

#34 Tony Matthews

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:04

:up:

#35 Chezrome

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:09

:rotfl:

Three posts that had me laughing out loud - in such a sad thread!

Is this not worth a thread of it's own? 'Unfortunate things to say about a deceased.'



#36 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:09

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
How many more times do we have to say it? Deaf ears, I think, sadly...


You could have searched for it yourself... but let's just say I think it's more important than bickering about what you should and shouldn't have done...

Buford, unfortunately, has been pushed beyond his limits by forces that don't want him around so we no longer get the benefit of his company or his stories. But they are there in the archives, so let's just enjoy one of them:

Originally posted by Buford
Well I don't know if this qualifies as a "priceless moment". It was rather pricey actually. But Ray Bell has been bugging me to tell my fireball story. I wanted to race anything and everything. My ultimate goal was to race at Indy, but in the 1970s it wasn't like today when they want inexperienced young wild men who go very fast. If they wad up some cars, so what? It's safe now. They won't get hurt probably. Eventually the good ones will calm down and go fast without hitting stuff.

But in my day, you were not supposed to hit stuff, and you couldn't get an Indy Car ride on merit unless you had several years of experience. They didn't want young wild men. I was that for awhile. But I went fast and didn't hit stuff. Didn't help. I did get rides and I was one of the few drivers in the 1970s who raced both ovals and road courses, short of the top rank. But my experience was 90% road racing. It was hard to get rides in oval racing because I didn't have many contacts there, and most of the owners thought road racers were hand kissing, pretty boy, homos. Not real racers at all. In fact, not even real men.

But anyway, I did race some USAC Midgets and some stock cars. In 1979 I got a Sprint Car ride. It was my 9th year of racing and I was semi well known among the car owners in both oval and road racing. I had a piece of crap car, a cross spring front about 10 year old chassis. This was long after they all had gone to 4 bars. But it did have a killer engine. Damn near as good as even the very best guys. When I could get it straight, it pulled nearly everybody. But it wouldn't turn.

So my first time out was at a primarily horse race track at a fairgrounds. It had wooden inside guard rails, a single level armco on the outside. Really hillbilly. My car owner told me to just ride around behind the field and get used to the car. We did not have to make the feature or anything. This was a shake down run and the car was just finished being put together a few hours before. I only had 3 or 4 hot laps plus my 2 qualifying laps, so when my heat race came up, the first lap was going to be my 5th or 6th lap I ever had in a Sprint Car at speed. I had no idea what I was doing or anything and qualified slowest. I could have been on the pole but requested to start at the rear because I was supposed to just toodle around. Unfortunately, when I clicked down the shield an unexplained force always drove the cars and I never really had any control over it. Whatever happened though, I didn't know how to toodle. I really only had one speed, flat out.

So I was under orders just to drive around and get the feel of the car and not try to pass anybody and definately not hit anything. My car owner was aware the first time I drove a Midget, I passed about 15 cars down the inside on the first lap, including a lot of well known experienced drivers, and then hit the wall big time coming out of 4 on the first lap. Mel Kenyon told my dad, "When he blew by me I said to myself, that kid is never going to make that turn. What surprised me was he almost did!" So anyway, theoretically I had learned from that, my only crash in 8 years of racing. So this time I was determined to do what I was told and I was smart enough not to try to actually race the most dangerous of all race cars, after 5 or 6 laps experience. I was going to be good. Until I clicked down the shield and the push truck sent me off.

So there were 9 cars starting the heat race on a half mile dirt oval. I was 9th. We got the green and drove a lap and I was being good, but the guy in front of me wasn't. He was all over the track. An accident ready to happen and it was going to take me with him. I was running low, everybody else was running high, up on the cushion. I was afraid to go up there yet, but my low line was hooked up. This was a non-wing race. Everybody was sliding around trying to find traction. I had good traction and a great engine and I was having to back off to keep from passing this nut in front. So I passed him, I had to. Another lap and the next guy wasn't much less squirrley that the first one so I had to pass him too. Well that continued lap after lap until I had passed 7 of them. I couldn't help it. They were all too slow. Plus I was an experienced Sprint Car driver by this point. I had 13 or 14 laps in now!

So I am in 2nd and that makes the feature, and it was easy. The leader was a full straightaway ahead, I only need to get into the top 4 to make the feature, I was there. Time to just toodle around for the last 3 or so laps. But then the first guy I was worried about did hit something so we had a yellow for awhile. At the restart then I was right behind the leader who was pretty good I thought. I was happy to just follow him home and hope my car owner would not be too pissed off because I finished 2nd in my first race and made the feature, and passed guys when he told me not to. I would just explain I couldn't help it, they were too slow. Problem was now, the leader was too slow.

I was running all over him on the straights and in the corners he went high and I went low and I actually had to lift coming out to avoid passing him or running wheel to wheel down the straight. I was trying to be good. But lifting to keep from winning is something I could only do once. So we get the white flag, I follow him around the 1st corner, ran nearly side by side down the back straight, then lifted early going into 3 to let him ahead. But he thought we were racing (and I guess so did everybody else there but me) so he went in hard and slid high. I came out low and stood on it and we ran side by side to the line with him nipping me by about a foot at the line. So the race was over, I finished second in my first race. But the story hasn't even started yet. Unfortunately it is getting very long which is why I don't tell many stories. I can't do them short.

Before I could get back to the pits, well that's the story, starring the fireball. Anybody actually care or has this all been too boring already?

OK well I'll finish before I go to bed. We crossed the line nearly dead even and then I backed off to about half throttle. The guy to my right moved ahead in his lane a couple car lengths and then unexpectedly cut left in front of me and backed off. Sprint Cars have no mirrors. I had three choices. Stand on the brakes, go left but there wasn't much room and he might pull more left, or go right. But if I go right, the whole track is open, and I can try the high line. Good idea. When you have only had 18 laps in a Sprint Car, 9 miles total, one more corner is a sizeable increase in your knowledge base.

So I went into turn one hot up high for the first time. But I had backed off on the straight so I wasn't going as fast as I would have been normally. I thought I had a big margin for error. I cocked it sideways and blipped the throttle and it began to slide up toward the cushion. I did some steering and throttle stuff and nothing really happened. It kept on sliding. OK no problem, when I hit the cushion I will skillfully nail the throttle and stabilize the slide, just like the real Sprint Car drivers do. But I went right over the cushion into the loose dirt and despite trying everything I had to try twice, it kept right on sliding toward the single row Armco.

Now I am just looking at the photos I have of this. Behind this very low guardrail is a white picket fence and behind that is a row of pickup trucks with people sitting all over them. No cable enforced crash fencing, no nothing. There is nothing to keep some maniac Sprint Car driver from hitting that rail, flipping over or through the horseshit picket fence, and slaughtering 20 or more people. Looking at this photo, well this is madness. And then I hit the wall. And it got worse.

I didn't hit hard but the right rear wheel climbed up the barrier and lifted the rear of the car. The engine reved and I backed off and it died and it went all silent. My brain had never had this experience before so it had no opinion on what was happening. I did notice however white, black, white, black, white black, in my vision just before KERRRR-BANG and it hit fully upside down on the roll cage and a sharp pain went through both my shoulders. And what I didn't know was there was fuel spewing out all behind which ignited into a 10 yard holocaust of burning fuel all down the track and enveloping the back of the car. I was too busy wondering if I had broken my shoulders when the white, black stuff started again and then KERRR-BANG I landed real hard on the right side and slammed my left knee into the steering column and it hurt. And all down the track and behind the car, but not up to the cockpit yet, was a major race car fire. I was the only one there who was missing the show.

Next time, unless you tell me to shut up. The hillbilly "rescue" or how not to handle a major race car fire and a "trapped" driver.

Thanks guys. Ok I will try to finish this but this is the good part. So I came to rest on my right side with the tail downhill toward the infield and the roll cage toward traffic. There is supposed to be a big ball bearing in a shaft that goes in the fuel filler area so if the car turns over the bearing rolls down and shuts off the opening to keep fuel from running out. But we didn’t have that. The car was old but had just been totally rebuilt, just finished earlier that day. That part was ordered but had not come in. I had been driving like a road racer, not a Sprint Car driver (which had worked because the low groove was giving more traction than the cushion and nobody else was trying it). But my brake disks were glowing red hot and when it turned over, the fuel ran out and hit the disks and it blew up. You can’t see a methanol fire in the daytime, but at night, it makes a very pretty fire. Fine and all unless you are in it.

But I wasn’t and didn’t even know it was on fire. But from the infield and grandstand, it looked like the whole track around the car, and the whole car was enveloped in this huge fire. The grandstand was screaming (they tell me) “Get him out!!!” “Get him out” and the announcer said, “Say a prayer.” But inside the car I was going though a multiple of thoughts all at the same time. One brain track (the loudest one) was screaming at me and calling me every name in the book and new ones. I was soooooo pissed off. Another brain track was trying to remember what had happened during the crash. Another was analyzing what had caused it. Why did it never take a set and just kept sliding? Another was already trying to think of an excuse. Another was wishing I really WAS dead. Another was trying to determine if I was hurt and decided no because everything wiggled. But then I had to decide what to do now. If I had known there was a good possibility of burning up I might have said, “OK what the hell. It’s better than facing my car owner and everybody else after this fiasco.” Hero to zero in seconds and I still wasn’t sure why.

But my brain flashed on what had happened to Jan Opperman a couple weeks before. He had flipped with the cage pointing to traffic. He had started to get out, and somebody hit him right in the cage. He suffered major brain injuries and never recovered. Was a virtual child needing full time care the rest of his life. So I decided to stay in the car until the 5 or 6 cars behind went by. I was hearing the engines go by on both sides hoping they were all slowed down enough to miss me. The race was over after all. Not everybody crashes on the cool off lap. Only me! But I didn’t know about the fire, and what it looked like to everybody else. People were running across the infield to the scene, but there was no crash truck, no fire extinguishers, no nothing. If there was going to be a rescue, it was going to take a hero. Somebody who just said the hell with it, I’m going in.” And in the racing world, there is always a hero around when you need one. In this case I didn’t, but I was the only one there who didn’t think so.

I can’t do this short. Next instalment… the arrival of the hero, and the Keystone Cops fire brigade.

So I heard the cars go by and it was time to get out. I didn’t know there was a fire. It was all behind and below but it was moving my way. A guy in street clothes arrived at the rail and waited for the cars to pass. Seeing there was nobody else, he decided it was going to have to be him. So he jumped the wooden inside rail and ran through or around the flames and up to the cockpit. Inside the car I had just popped my belts and reached up to the cage to pull myself out when I felt hands grab me under both arms and starting to drag me out of the car. It banged and tangled my knees and feet but he just yanked and dragged me along the ground what seemed like a long way. I was totally pissed off already and this now was the ultimate indignity. I was furious.

He stopped dragging and I sat up but he tried to push me down saying “Stay down.” But I was having none of that so I stood up. But my shield was totally covered with mud and I couldn’t see a thing. I reached up with both hands to pop my shield, but it was brand new and wouldn’t pop. It was stuck, and I had triple layer fireproof gloves that were too thick to get under the corners enough to get the shield to release. So I was bending over at the waist trying to pop the damn shield and people were arriving and everybody was asking if I was all right, and telling me to lay down. So I am fighting them off and I really was pissed off about all of this and I finally got the shield open and I stood up and looked back at my car. It was a total shock. There was a big fire on the track where the fuel was running down, and the entire back of the car, and now the cockpit area was enveloped in the fireball. The guy had drug me out at the last possible instant, though I could have done it myself with no help.

So I stopped being pissed at the hero now that I understood the magnitude of the situation, but now I start freaking out because there are no fire extinguishers or crash crews. Everybody out there were infield spectators and a couple guys were trying to throw dirt on the fire. Oh this is just great! So I am trying to break free from the people asking if I am OK and where does it hurt and all that and go throw dirt on the fire. But they are grabbing me and trying to push me down. And then I look to my left to the infield and here comes two big fat firemen in regular rain coats and firemen hats. They both have big fat bellies and one has a cigar in his mouth. They are lugging fire bottles but not moving very fast. When they arrive at the infield wooden 4 foot or so fence, well it might as well have been the Great Wall Of China. No way these fat guys were going to get those bellies and the heavy fire bottles over that fence anytime soon.

Next time…. Fat guys with fire bottles.

Trying to finish. So the fat firemen set out to scale the fence. Both put down the fire bottles and kind of slithered on their bellies like reptiles until they both arrived on the top of the fence and kind of got stuck there for what seemed like a long time (when your race car is burning and these are the saviors!). It was like two beached whales with their arms and legs waggling about but no movement of their bodies. I was going nuts and all these people were surrounding me and bothering me. Finally they get to the other side and drag the bottles over. They waddle a few steps toward the fire below the car, but a full lane away, and start messing with trying to pull the pins. But they can't. So they are struggling and finally the guy with the cigar gets his pin pulled but instead of then approaching the fire, he points it and pulls the trigger from about two full counties away! And the bottle goes pfffft with a little white spurt that goes two feet and that's it.

With half the fire fighting effort now over, and the other guy still trying to pull the pin, the hero guy, the same one who pulled me out of the car, runs over there, grabs the extinguisher from the fat guy, there is a short struggle, the hero wins, turns toward the car and ran right up to it and rather quickly put it out.

I finally got away from my rescuers and we turned the car up on its wheels. It didn't seem damaged at all. It was black and was covered with white powder. The paint on the tail and the leather upholstery was somewhat singed, but not anywhere near what it appeared it would be. The flames had been burning up above the bodywork kind of like lighter fluid on your finger. It didn’t burn the car much at all.

Well I walked back and my car owner asked if I was OK. I said yes. Then he started excitedly saying stuff like “Boy you were really going!!! You were blowing them off. Did you win it? I couldn’t see." I said no. Then his face changed and he seemed to remember what happened after that and he said “What the hell happened?” I told him what I knew. Then the car arrived on the tow truck and we all started looking it over. A big crowd formed of course and everybody was telling me what they saw and how scary it was. This is when I really began to piece together what had happened. I didn’t know. I kind of missed the whole thing. It seemed to have been a bigger deal to everybody else than it was to me.

After awhile my car owner said, “I don’t think it’s hurt. Do you want to put it on the trailer or run it in the feature?" I jumped at the chance to redeem myself and said I wanted to run it. But people all around were just shaking their heads and acting incredulous I would go back out there. Tonight anyway. But ultimately we decided not to run because the fire powder probably got in the injectors and we didn’t want to blow it up. And it did have suspension damage we found later so we couldn't have run it anyway.

Well we put it back together and raced it again several times. But it never handled after that first time. And my car owner kind of hurt my confidence. Apparently, after reflection, I should not have said I wanted to go back out right after the flip. A lot of people began to say I was “Too brave for his own good.” And every time my car owner strapped me in, his hands were shaking so much he could hardly do it. Eventually he succeeded in making me nervous.


That's one story, originally told over about five posts (as you could discern)... now for another:

Originally posted by Buford
My first time in a USAC Midget. Well actually second time but the first time was on dirt and this time was a fast paved half mile. The car was fast and in practice I was in the top 5 of times. The owner kept changing the car based on my observations and we had 3 or 4 hot lap sessions that day (which is rare) and each time I went out it was faster but felt different. I told the car owner maybe he should stop changing the car because I did not know where the limit was and he kept moving the bar.

The car owner was pissed because they did not want to let me run even though I had a license because I was a road racer and they did not want road racing sissy boys out there with the real men. My car owner had to threaten to quit and never race again if they didn't let me drive. So then when I was as fast as the very fastest with only 15 laps in the car he was totally stoked and believed he was going to smoke the bastards with his unknown sissy boy road racer. So he kept making adjustments and they were the right ones.

I started in the rear of the race by request due to lack of experience. I intended to get comfortable with the latest changes and then try to pick them off one at a time for as far as I could get. There was about 16 to 20 cars ahead. Coming out of turn 2 after the start I nailed it and the little bugger took off like a rocket sled and totally caught me out. The fuel injection pill change and gear change he had made had a resulted in a tremendous difference. I was on the inside and mainly a passenger as I blew by cars like they were a picket fence. I had an old shield which had tiny scratches and it was a night race with poor lighting and I was going in and out of different levels of lighting which was flaring up on my shield and giving me a strobe light effect. I was in a surreal world of blur and motion.

I passed the whole field up to about 5th place and arrived at the corner on the inside way too fast. I braked like a mother, got it turned. started drifting high and had tremendous push. But I got it around and nailed it coming out and drifted higher and higher while trying to muscle the front around and then I nailed a triple row Armco with tremendous force, blacking out my vision but not knocking me out. When my vision came back I was a story high in the air looking at the flag man who was up on a tower at the level I was now on. The car came down on the nose, did not flip but bounced to the tail and then back down and the engine caught and I was driving again, now on the yellow. But I was in a total LaLa land of non understanding of where I was, who I was, and what the thumping noise was to my right rear that was irritating my ass off.

As we rounded turn one on the yellow I could see a few race cars ahead and decided I must be a race driver and this must be a race but something was wrong. I shouldn't be here if I did not know what I was doing. I saw the pit opening and I thought I better go there but did not know where I would go after that. I saw my yellow van which I recognized and figured that was probably where I was going but when I got there I had no brakes so I smashed into the back of the trailer at about 15 or 20 MPH. I got out and people ran up and they were asking if I was OK and I was saying yes and they were talking about the accident but I thought they were talking about the trailer accident. Nobody asked my name which I couldn't have answered or where I was which I didn't have a clue. My car owner was blaming himself for changing the car so much and screwing me up. It took a full half hour to regain my senses.

Later Mel Kenyon told my dad "When he blew by me I said to myself, no way that kid is going to make that corner. What surprised me was he almost did!"


No fireball... but I guess you don't mind?

Another:

Originally posted by Buford
On the matter of nearly hitting corner workers, in the 70's they often had no barriers in front of them at all. One time I was just at a race spectating and a guy I knew who had a Mini Cooper became ill and asked me if I wanted to drive his car in the race. I always had my helmet and suit bag with me for just such a occurance and although I had stopped racing Minis at that point and was racing other people's cars on both ovals and road courses, I was an experienced Mini Cooper driver. I had no practice but the Chief Steward was a friend of mine and knew my record so he waved the 5 lap minimum rule and I started at the back. It was a last minute deal.

Well it is surprisingly similar to the USAC Midget story above. I stood on it at the green and from the back blew past most of the rows of cars that had started in front, on the inside of the track. I couldn't have done that if they had fanned out but they stayed in their rows and left a whole lane open. I was a pretty maniac starter and sometimes started at the back just for fun and to see if I could break my all time record of passing 23 cars on the first lap at Blackhawk Farms which was 1.8 miles. I would lay back and get on it early and time it just right so I would be in position at the back just as they threw the flag but going 50 MPH faster and would just swoop by row after row.

Well this time I had gotten about 3/4 up the field before the braking area for the first turn which was a right hander. This was a pretty good car I was in too so I had hopes of passing everybody before the lap was over and go from last to first in one lap which I had never seen done and I was enough of a show off and egomaniac to try it.

But when I hit the brakes, the guy had rubber brake lines, not aeroquip and one blew out and the pedal went right to the floor. There were still 7 or 8 cars in front of me and to my left and they were braking and already turning in and I was going to cream some of them. I was going at least 100 MPH, probably faster when the brakes blew. So I turned right and put it sideways in the grass on the right side of the track and I was headed right for the corner workers who were up on a little hill. They saw me coming and scattered and I hit a fire bottle and flew over the hump and got up in the air still going sideways. I was heading toward the track and the cars there saw this Mini flying in the air toward them and all went off the track to their left and I came down and slid up to the track and across it in the area they had cleared for me. The tires gripped and I had already gone down a couple gears during the slide so I dumped the clutch and the front wheel drive snapped me forward just as I reached the outside of the track and I took off now in about 5th or 6th. I looked in my mirrors and there was nothing but dirt and spinning cars behind me.

Now it gets really stupid. I saw the 5 or 6 cars ahead and I completely forgot what just had happened and took off after them. I know that sounds impossible to believe you could forget something like that but I did. There were cars ahead, I was in a fast car and I knew I could catch them, and I just had that in my mind. So the slide across the grass and flying in the air and sliding across the track stuff that had just happened a few seconds before was forgotten and I chased them through a left hand kink that led to the braking area for a big right hand sweeping carrouselle corner. I was making up the gap and charged into the braking area, nailed the brakes and oops, gee I forgot! Same thing happened again, now 10 or 15 seconds later. I was going to cream the cars ahead so I turned right, put it sideways and headed right for the corner workers again.

Again they saw me coming and scattered but this time there was no hill to launch over. But once again I was now headed back toward the track and the cars who were in the first third of the corner. They saw me coming right at them sideways on the grass and turned left and went off the track and I slid onto in the the area they cleared out, the tires grabbed, I hit the throttle and launched forward and looked in my mirrors and again saw nothing but dirt and cars spinning everywhere.

I was now in the lead. I had cleared out the entire field behind me. They were all in the dirt, backwards or just catching up from the same thing at the first corner. But this time I remembered I had no brakes. I felt there might be some repercussions about all this so I decided I better figure out how to slow down for corners without scattering corner workers and knocking everybody off the track. The thought of actually pulling over and giving up the race never crossed my mind. So I developed a technique of backing off early, banging down through the gears, and turning it sideways and drifting into the corners at a 90 degree angle. I did it every weekend on the dirt tracks so it was no problem. But it was slower. So before the first lap was over the cars started arriving and passing me because I was now slow and they were all flashing me the bird and shaking their fists and being mean to me, which I sort of understood.

So I drove the whole race with no brakes and got a finish and pulled in and chugged up to the paddock place in first gear and shut it off. The crew and guy who owned the car had no idea what had happened. I told them I had lost the brakes on the first corner and they found the broken hose right away. They said "You drove the whole race with no brakes at all. That's incredible! We knew something was wrong but we had no idea it was that!" I said. "Yeah, but I think there may be some pissed off people here in a minute so I'll see you later." So I scrammed and because everybody thought the usual driver was in the car they all came over and yelled at the guy who owned the car and he just stood there and laughed.


Now you new blokes can understand why Buford isn't wanted around here... stories like this must be lies, mustn't they? Another:

Originally posted by Buford
Well I had the same thing happen at the same place on the same track another time too. I was in a very fast FP MG Midget. This car had almost all the tricks. I went into turn one in practice, again the first time I drove the car, but not on the first lap. I was on the far left at the end of the straight with a right hander coming up. In the Mini I had been on the far right passing cars and was going to have to find a tiny hole in the cars lined up on the left ready to turn in the Mini incident. So it was a simple manner to turn right into the grass.

In the Midget though I was at full speed and it was not coming off a start so I had run the whole straight as fast as it would go. I hit the brakes and the left rear wheel cylinder blew out and the pedal went to the floor. But I was too fast and too far away to turn right into the grass and slide. This time if I was going to slide it was going to be sideways off the outside of the turn and I was afraid it would dig in and flip because I was just going too fast. I had seen that happen a short time before to somebody and he got hurt. So I just flew off going straight ahead and didn't do anything but hope.

There was a grassy area for a ways and I crossed that fast. Behind that was tall grass, higher than a human. I would say about 7 feet tall. I had never seen anybody go into that tall grass before and had never walked over there to find out how deep it was and what was behind it. When I entered the tall grass I put my head down and closed my eyes and braced for the head on impact of whatever I was going to hit. I heard all kind of grass mowing down noises and stuff hitting me on the helmet and chest and some minor banging and it finally came to a halt. I opened my eyes and looked up and I was deep into a forest. At least ten trees deep and they were big trees. I had come through the tall grass, mowed down some small sapling type trees, but amazingly went right through a bunch of big ones on a plot that just missed some on both sides and ended just short of hitting one head on. You couldn't have done that if you tried. It was pure luck.

But then I was lost. I got out and the grass had popped back up so I was alone and rather lonely. I was pretty disoriented but I knew the path I had come so I started hoofing it back pushing away the tall grass and following my entry path. It was like fighting your way through a jungle. Half way back I met a couple corner workers heading in lugging fire bottles. Their faces were ashen white and they were really happy to see me. We went back to the car and others arrived and everybody was amazed I had gone into the forest and missed all the trees! Nobody had ever seen anybody go into the forest before, and like me, didn't even know it was out there. It was so far off they couldn't get a tow truck in, so we pushed the car back and I eventually got in and started it up and backed it through the jungle.

This one had a happy ending though. They replaced the wheel cylinder and rebled the brakes and I won the race that afternoon. No harm, no foul. Just another wacky and lucky escape from loony land.


Edited by Ray Bell, 16 September 2009 - 11:14.


#37 Tony Matthews

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:24

Thanks Ray. I miss Bufords contributions, and yes, I could have looked, but it didn't occur to me, and as others were asking I assumed, wrongly, that he hadn't mentioned such episodes...

#38 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 12:15

More than once, actually...

This thread is the same as some of the above, but with pictures!

#39 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 00:44

Ray - and Buford - my thanks! Just read this in my office, and the boss had to walk down to see why the hell I was lughing as hard as I was!

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#40 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 21:03

Our luck's in...

Buford has been doing some scanning and sent pics of the corner where the long grass hid his departure. The first is of the corner when the grass wasn't so long:

Posted Image

Check how far it is back to those trees he spoke of. And then there's this one from the time he raced the Spridget:

Posted Image

#41 Andrew Hope

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 21:27

Where is Buford these days? I remember coming across stories of his in the last few years of reading these forums as a guest and I loved all of them, no matter how outlandish or impossible they might seem. Does he still post a lot and I'm just not reading the right threads?

#42 philippe7

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 22:08

Posted Image


Look at that car #45......never knew there were Renault 8's racing in the US ! Wonder if it was a Gordini version ...


#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 22:26

Originally posted by andrew.
Where is Buford these days? I remember coming across stories of his in the last few years of reading these forums as a guest and I loved all of them, no matter how outlandish or impossible they might seem. Does he still post a lot and I'm just not reading the right threads?


He's not posting...

He put himself into exile from the forum because a couple of people here tried to call him a liar. They're welcome to contact him and apologise any time they like.

#44 Andrew Hope

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 23:42

That sucks. He's one of the most entertaining characters around here.

#45 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 00:21

And a man who'd 'been there and done that'...

A shame a couple sought to disprove that and disqualify him from his past.

#46 RStock

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 00:57

And a man who'd 'been there and done that'...

A shame a couple sought to disprove that and disqualify him from his past.


It's a damn shame .

Buford never struck me as the type that gave a damn about what someone thought of him . He should come back and just ignore the assholes .

#47 TrackDog

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:32

It's a damn shame .

Buford never struck me as the type that gave a damn about what someone thought of him . He should come back and just ignore the assholes .




Word!




Dan

#48 JtP1

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:10

Surely the real difference that fire proof overalls and other protection have made is not so much in fatalities, but in reducing what would be serious injuries to minor or non existent injuries and that drivers now walk away from what were once serious accidents.

#49 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:12

There was a bit more to it, though...

First, he got banned from Readers Comments. He tells it this way:

"I was banned from RC and got sick of being attacked by weenies where there was no moderator action taken until I responded and then they blamed me."

So there was selective moderation he feels was aimed at him. I gather that the moderators got all sorts of complications when Buford came in on a thread there, it caused them a lot of grief, so they moderated against him rather than taking on the rest of the populous.

He also points out:

"You might note the forum lost Don Capps, who quit over this same issue of moderator harassment of me.
So they got two of us "old timers" over the same issue."

He hastens to add that Twin Window wasn't one of the moderators who gave him trouble. I can also verify that Twinny was mortified to know what was going on behind the scenes with the people who were trying to prove Buford to be a liar.

#50 PCC

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 14:42

I think Buford is a racer, who approaches a BB thread exactly the same way he used to approach a corner in a sprint car. And as his own stories above show, that will make you both friends and enemies. He's completely nuts, of course, but that's only one of the reasons I miss him.