How to react when your car catches fire | Project MR2 Turbo

J.G.
Update by J.G. Pasterjak to the Toyota MR2 Turbo project car
Aug 15, 2022 | Toyota, MR2, Daytona, MR2 Turbo

Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak (insert), MotorsportMedia

To answer your first questions, yes, our Toyota MR2 Turbo caught fire at the recent SCCA Track Night in America event at Daytona International Speedway, and, yes, I’m completely fine and healthy. Or at least no worse than I was before the incident.

So let’s walk through what happened, what being involved in a fire at a track event is like, …

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Comments
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Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/15/22 9:09 a.m.

Well, if someone taught a bear to do ballet, anyway.

Excellent visual, excellent preparation, and an excellent take away.  Prepare for the worst case scenario, celebrate when it doesn't happen.

Again, glad you're doing ok after this.

malibuguy
malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/15/22 9:18 a.m.

the v6 soundtrack alone is worth it

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/15/22 10:03 a.m.

Sorry to hear about the fire, but glad to hear that you're unscathed and that the car will live on.  FWIW, I did both a Gen3 swap and a 1MZ V6 swap on a couple of my past MR2s, and the V6 was magical to drive, even with significantly less peak HP.  Can't wait to read about your progress with the 2GR.

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/15/22 10:14 a.m.

Glad you're ok. 

Is there a race car equivalent of ATGATT?

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/15/22 10:23 a.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

I think it's "ATGATT".

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/15/22 10:45 a.m.

Thank you JG!  And I am glad you practiced bailing out from the car.

We get to learn the easy way reading about your mishap and you got to learn the hard way and were able to write a story about it!

 

Scott

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/15/22 11:23 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

I think it's "ATGATT".

I've always used "Fire burns just as hot at test day" for motivation to suit up...

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
8/15/22 11:48 a.m.

I posted in the original thread but my question wasn't answered: How did flames end up getting into the passenger compartment, or didn't they?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/15/22 11:51 a.m.
kb58 said:

I posted in the original thread but my question wasn't answered: How did flames end up getting into the passenger compartment, or didn't they?

They didn't. But when you have six dudes with fire extinguishers, a small car with open windows, and flames licking around an reigniting, you're not always so precise with your discharges. I spent some time cleaning it up last night in the interior. it responds very well to soap and a sponge or cleaning mitt, but very poorly to anything else, so it's a lot of wiping by hand and insing the sponge and repeating.

 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/15/22 12:04 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

Glad you're ok. 

Is there a race car equivalent of ATGATT?

 

Good question, and on the minds of many of us. Obviously more than just a helmet. Racing fire resistant suit, plus fire protection rated gloves, shoes, socks, underwear, balaclava, and don't forget the HANS.

Definitely cuts into the affordability of a track day, and is one of the reasons I had been just doing autocross.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
8/15/22 12:20 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Okay, thank you for the clarification. It's kind of scary how - depending upon circumstance - fire retardant dust can be as much a health threat as the flames themselves.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/15/22 1:09 p.m.

Hey as long as we're on the subject, lots of the damage is soft bits. Particularly dust boots on various things, like the shift cables and slave cylinder. Certainly those are not bespoke dust boots designed for a single application, are they? Does anyone have a link for "Dust Boot Warehouse: Your One-Stop Shop for All You Dust Boot Needs" or some such thing. I'm finding a few out there, but I have to think that I'm just one proper keyword search away from finding a solid assortment of them somewhere I can look through.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/15/22 1:47 p.m.

In reply to kb58 :

Isn't it?

We need to make a GRM version of this story, too: Picking the right fire extinguisher for your classic

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
8/15/22 1:54 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

An Amazon search turns up a bunch of them in assorted sizes.

Foxtrot3Zero
Foxtrot3Zero GRM+ Member
8/15/22 2:03 p.m.

JG,

So glad to hear you are okay. A few months back I had a great conversation with you and David on the infield go-kart track of DIS at an SCCA Autocross. We were chatting about how much fun TNiA was at DIS (which I had just run that week) and how much you and others helped me take that first step into HPDE. I remember you mentioning it would be fun to take the MR2 out for the next TNiA at DIS if the schedule worked out. Man....I surely owe you some work hours now!! Let me know when the shop needs cleaning or wrenches need turning, I will be there. Very sorry this happened, glad you are okay, definitely taking away lessons.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/15/22 2:05 p.m.
Toyman! said:

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

An Amazon search turns up a bunch of them in assorted sizes.

What are you using for keywords?

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
8/15/22 2:20 p.m.

I used cable dust boots. 

This looks like the best of the bunch. It's an assortment from 1/4 to 3/4. 

Linky

A google search also pulls up some larger ones. 

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
8/15/22 2:23 p.m.

You might also try shift cable boot. 

I have better luck with image searches than I do word or product searches. It makes it a good bit easier to find what looks like it will fit. 

 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/15/22 2:26 p.m.
Toyman! said:

You might also try shift cable boot. 

I have better luck with image searches than I do word or product searches. It makes it a good bit easier to find what looks like it will fit.

I also use this trick when searching for something I'm not sure of the proper name of. Image search your best guess, see something like what you want, find out what the proper name is, suddenly you know exactly what to look for...

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
8/15/22 2:32 p.m.

I'll chime in with my routine:

I practice bailing from the car in a pitch black garage. I do this while holding my breath.

My default set up for the Datsun is bail out the passenger side as you don't have to lower the window net and it's 2 seconds faster than bailing out the drivers side. The F500 has one exit. I condense all the movements as much as possible as I've found this cuts 1.5 to 2 seconds.

BUT that may not be possible; I also practice the things I'll do if the car is one it's side (left or right) as well as upside down.

NEXT

I have the  car is on fire check list; step one and two are fuel pump off pull the fire bottle (I'm transitioning to automatics). Note I have race cars with carbs so I could drive 1/4 mile to a turn station if I wanted to.

Notice driving to a turn station is not a priority; if the fire is anything but minor I'm bailing..........screw the car let it burn to the ground. Burns are some of the worst injuries one could ever imagine just ask anyone who's been in a burn unit.

DId I mention screw the car?

NEXT

If you have the gear wear the gear; I wear every scrap of gear becuase you never know. Also unless you have a compelling reason not to, get a full face helmet (I'll get back to this)

NEXT - you never know.

My fire was in our sports racer; we had the track to ourselves for a private test day. In retrospect this was really really stupid; no course workers, no ambulance, nothing, this could have been really bad.

Going into Spring Mtns fastest corner (about 130 mph) the Yamaha 1000 engine shat itself. The oil atomized and then ignited. The car had a bit of ground effects so I got to see the flame travel up the sidepod and then pour out the front fender. Fortunately I'd practices turning everything off while driving as well as doing a dummy run pulling by the fire bottle. The oil had also lubed the rear tires so I was also catching a 130mph slide whole doing all this. Practice helped a lot.

The fire lasted all of 3 seconds; I've had way scary moments racing motorcycles bit I wouldn't want to repeat it.

Finally a put a decade ago a friend's Vette burned to the ground; from the time it caught fire (the car being him saw it) to the time it was fully engulfed was 20 seconds. He was wearing an open face helmet and when he open the door the fire burnt the tip of his nose as well as his left check. Fortunately they were minor burns. He immediately bailed out the passenger side. In the 2 seconds it took to leap out the passenger flames were rolling over the door sill.

Note: Yes I'm trying to scare you; becuase the only thing you should be grilling trackside is burgers and hot dogs.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/15/22 2:33 p.m.

Ooh this helps. Yeah I kept including the word "protective" in there and I was mostly getting footwear or those thing that go on the floor to let you drive/walk over cables.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/15/22 4:02 p.m.

Really good post, filled with practical and important things.

- ATGATT, especially in a car with cage/harnesses

- practice your bailout

- redundant safety design when making car modifications

- keeping your personal affairs in order in the paddock (wallet and phone, emergency contact, etc.)

kaybat
kaybat New Reader
8/15/22 4:40 p.m.

WOW. I left before that happened, glad your OK!

earlybroncoguy1
earlybroncoguy1 Reader
8/15/22 5:52 p.m.

When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

 

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/15/22 7:30 p.m.

Pretty sure my mid-engined cars and my chem cabinet are getting these"

Blaze Cut

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/16/22 9:10 a.m.

Usually I'm the safety-conscious guy, but I don't know.  The full racing ensemble for a TNIA?  I kind of feel like that malfunction could have happened on I-75.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/16/22 10:29 a.m.

As somebody who just replaced oil and fuel lines in a mid engine car that gets super hot in the engine bay, this has me freaked out a little.

What heat wrap do you recommend? Something from DEI?

 

Also good job on the top speeds on the straight in that thing. Given the mods, that was very impressive based on my memory of these cars from years ago.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/16/22 1:32 p.m.

How most people react.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/16/22 2:32 p.m.
Jerry said:

Usually I'm the safety-conscious guy, but I don't know.  The full racing ensemble for a TNIA?  I kind of feel like that malfunction could have happened on I-75.

And yet we drive cars on I-75 with seatbelts, low-flammability interior materials, chassis designed for occupant protection from the structure of the car all the way down to the way the switchgear is designed...

 

Well, most of us anyway.  The rest have motorcycles, and the smart motorcyclists are decked out in safety gear smiley

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
8/16/22 8:54 p.m.

In reply to Jerry :

Dress for the crash not the ride.

There have been 5-6 stories of fires on here and two of the three biggest were track day incidents.

If you have the gear why not wear it? 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/17/22 12:21 a.m.

It has one less motor as of this evening.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
8/17/22 2:27 a.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

How most people react.

How I react when the (immediate) world is on fire:

ralph63
ralph63 New Reader
8/17/22 7:54 a.m.

glad you're OK.  Can't wait to read about the V6 swap!

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/17/22 7:06 p.m.

There are a couple MR2 builds on this forum in the project section that might want to vulture on some of the turbo parts if that aren't going to be used. Did I miss if that stuff was going to be listed for sale?

CrashingTiger
CrashingTiger New Reader
8/17/22 11:06 p.m.

Silly stuff can cause fires.  Glad you're ok. I've had some near misses. My best one was when I was racing Baby Grands (think Legend cars but with stock car style bodies). I accidentally let the starter wire get pinched between two stainless braided oil lines. Eventually the wire rubbed through and shorted on the stainless braiding then melted through causing oil to spray everywhere. Lots of smoke and briefly shot fire everywhere but fortunately didn't keep burning. I felt really s-m-r-t when I figured out what caused it. 

Randy_Forbes
Randy_Forbes New Reader
8/17/22 11:45 p.m.
Then cops came, a scuffle ensued, and I was thankful that I had merely been involved in a car fire.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Really glad that things turned out as well for you as they did, and you never know, your incident__and letting all of us be warned by it__may prevent one of your friends and readers from a worse fate.  So thank you!

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