This one has already made the rounds on NASA Northeast racer and two-time Super Touring National Champion Eric Magnussen’s Facebook page, but it’s worth publishing again as a Yokohama Move of the Month for the message it delivers: Practicing your emergency exits is vitally important. Doing them with your eyes closed is more important than you think. Red flags are serious command flags to be obeyed.
As Magnussen decelerated into Turn 1 on the Lightning course at New Jersey Motorsports Park, his car burst into flames at 130 mph. Magnussen pulled the fire handle on the dash, brought the car to a stop, unbuckled and exited the car. From eruption to exit is about 12 seconds, and emergency workers arrived 30 seconds after the fire broke out.
“The fire started around Start/Finish,” Magnussen said. “I smelled fuel for about a second before it ignited.”
Powered by a GM LS engine, Magnussen’s E46 M3 is fitted with a larger driveshaft and a modified pinion angle. The driveshaft had rubbed a hole in the plastic OEM fuel tank, which had become slightly loose over the years. When the fuel spilled out, flames from the tailpipe on deceleration ignited the fuel.
Just the week before, Magnussen was coaching in a competition school, and he demonstrated for the students what a fast exit looks like. While his car was still rolling in the paddock he stopped the car and was out in five seconds.
When the fire broke out, Magnussen’s visor was open. He closed his eyes and still was able to get out quickly despite struggling to get the door open a second time and a window net that was melting to his gloves. Magnussen suffered burns to his nose, but nowhere else thanks to proper safety equipment and ample training. We’re all relieved it wasn’t worse.