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Big Blow-ups


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#1 David Beard

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Posted 09 March 2003 - 15:31

This is a Vanwall piston and con rod in a right old state, apparently presented to Tom Wheatcroft on his 65th birthday. (Sorry about the poor quality..it was in front of a mirror inside a glass case.)

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What did Tom do to deserve it? Was he driving?
Anyone else care to describe any dramatic internal combustion engine catastrophes?

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#2 Simpson RX1

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Posted 09 March 2003 - 23:36

Race Of Champions, Brands Hatch c. 1984.

I was sitting at Paddock Hill Bend, when there was a noise that sounded like a bomb going off, and a small black dot came into view above the trees coming out of Dingle Dell; a few moments later, a very sorry looking Spirit coasted towards Clearways.

The black dot.........a rod and piston that had made an escape for freedom!!!!

#3 Mark Ballard

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Posted 10 March 2003 - 00:33

I was at Mallory Park a few years ago to watch a mate of mine race his historic Formula Ford.
As we were walking back to the pits from the hairpin we heard a really loud BANG.

A Ford in one of the other races had let go in a really big way on the start finish straight, with part of the engine (I think it was the flywheel) leaving the engine and embedding itself in the pedestrian bridge! See below for photos.
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Mark

#4 dolomite

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Posted 10 March 2003 - 00:41

1981 British GP, I was watching the race at Stowe. In the early laps Didier Pironi's Ferrari engine exploded directly in front of me with sufficient intensity to set fire to the grass at the side of the track.... Pironi somehow managed to limp back round to the pits, leaving a smoke trail that the Red Arrows would have been proud of.

#5 petefenelon

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Posted 10 March 2003 - 16:03

Originally posted by David Beard
This is a Vanwall piston and con rod in a right old state, apparently presented to Tom Wheatcroft on his 65th birthday. (Sorry about the poor quality..it was in front of a mirror inside a glass case.)

Posted Image
What did Tom do to deserve it? Was he driving?
Anyone else care to describe any dramatic internal combustion engine catastrophes?


The first time I ever saw an expensive one - and the first time I realised motor racing was expensive was as a kid at Aintree back in the mid-seventies. Kim Mather toasted an FAtlantic (or possibly F2 - can't remember precisely) BDA pretty comprehensively down the Railway Straight, and wandered back to the paddock very philosophically with the words "oh well, that's another X grand down the drain" (where X was about seven or eight, IIRC). Very undramatic. Then again, Kim always seemed fairly loaded compared to other clubbie drivers of that era...

#6 TODave2

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Posted 10 March 2003 - 20:36

I seem to recall that Piquet's engine blow up in the final laps of the Belgium GP in 1984 (Zolder) was big enough to split the engine block in half...

Mind you, that's a hellava lump of metal to split and maybe time has exaggerated the size of the blow up....

#7 2F-001

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 13:41

Another Mallory story... Formula 2 race in, er, must have been '73 I think... one of the works Marches had the engine let go on the front straight: it was claimed that a piece of block/piston/whatever went through the press-box window.

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 19:49

Originally posted by Mark Ballard
.....A Ford in one of the other races had let go in a really big way on the start finish straight, with part of the engine (I think it was the flywheel) leaving the engine and embedding itself in the pedestrian bridge!


With damage like that, it reminds me of that 1963 Warwick Farm meeting where Geoff Russell's factory Cortina had a clutch explosion... there was peppering of the bodywork from the inside all around the car in line with the clutch! I caught a finger as it arrived above the spectator area... used it for a bottle opener for many years.

The biggest I recall was Bob Jane's ZL1 Camaro engine when it lunched itself on the straight at Warwick Farm.

#9 John B

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 20:31

Piquet had another big one at Hockenheim, 1983 while trailing Rene Arnoux in second place...the sports report I heard described it before mentioning the winner.

One of the Penske Indycars had a spectacular blowup with early in one of the late 1990s seasons....I'm thinking it might have been Tracy during a test session. I think that one was made into a poster...could well be on the Net somewhere.

The Roush NASCAR team must get some sort of award for last weekend....three of their team cars (Martin, Busch, Burton) blew up, plus a customer for Ricky Rudd/Wood Brothers!

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 21:20

Of course, there was that Maserati mess made behind Frank Gardner's 'left ear'ole' back in 1965 at Lakeside.

The crankshaft, which Frank latterly explains had been 'just sitting around crystallising' broke and bits went everwhere on Lakeside's main straight. Something took out the gearlinkage at a point beside the engine somewhere, and the clutch was unusable with the crank broken, so the momentum of the car kept it all turning until he got it pulled up at the end of the straight.

From memory, the eruption was just as he was about to cross the line to start the second lap, so the engine was churning over and over for a good 300 yards before he got off the circuit.

#11 TODave2

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 22:43

Originally posted by John B
Piquet had another big one at Hockenheim, 1983 while trailing Rene Arnoux in second place...the sports report I heard described it before mentioning the winner.


The only thing I remember about that one was that there were a fair number of flames and Piquet jumped out with his bum very nearly on fire.

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 22:50

I meant to mention, in relation to that Mustang pic, this article should be re-read...

http://www.atlasf1.c...s=&postid=17917

#13 2F-001

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 01:02

An incident which i thought, at first glance, was going to be World's biggest blow-up turned out to be nothing of the sort. It was at Fontana when Alex Tagliani spun away his lead (and a good chance of a first win) then tried to spin the car back into the right direction. The wheelspin created more smoke than I can describe. Sorry, that's a bit off-thread...