Fire is one of the scariest risks at a race track – and the risk is highest during a pit stop. By regulation, a single crew member is required to be at the ready with a fire extinguisher (among other safety measures).
During a routine pit stop for the #68 GTLM Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, the refueler had difficulty getting the fueling hose to de-couple from the car. Jiggling and shaking it, the fuel hose came loose and fuel spilled and ignited – engulfing the refueler and the right side of the car. The crew member with the fire extinguisher was watching the whole sequence and immediately hit the refueler first and then moved to the car. After several seconds, other people with extinguishers moved in and blanketed the scene with chemical to put out the fire and the driver jumped out of the car. Kudos to all for the quick reactions – particularly the crew member on station during the pit stop with the fire extinguisher “just in case”.
The fire quickly produced a plume of smoke above the pit box, triggering a league of safety workers to converge on the scene and curious spectators to see what had happened. It was over in a matter of seconds.
The car suffered no damage, but was covered in chemical dumped and sprayed to put out the fire. No time to make the car more pretty during the race, so the driver got back in the car and returned to the action.
This photo shows the car returning on a subsequent pit stop but it later retired with an hour to go. It isn’t as sharp as a panning shot would usually be, but it caught me by surprise and I was happy to get a shot to tell the story.
Camera Settings – 1/160, f/3.5, ISO 100, 100mm – and sympathetic lightening in post-processing.