That’s the amount of time it took for fire to engulf Mike Jones’s Late Model Stock car. It’s also the amount of time it took for his dad to rescue him.
Dean Jones showed up to Virginia’s South Boston Speedway on Father’s Day weekend to watch his son race. Saturday nights at the track weren’t unusual for Jones, but this particular race was special for the family.
Halifax Insurance, Jones’s business, was sponsoring the race. To top it off, his son Mike would be one of two drivers leading the field to green.
The season had been promising for Jones’ son, who had avoided any serious wrecks and was a consistent frontrunner.
“Mike moved up from the Limited division to the Late Model this year,” Jones said. “He’s been running in the top five all year and we haven’t had any major incidents on the track.”
Unfortunately, the Jones’ hopes to visit victory lane ended abruptly that night when Mike Jones collided with the inside frontstretch wall after contact during a heated battle with Matt Bowling.
Perhaps by fate, the Jones team was pitted right in front of where the No. 39 machine eventually skidded to a stop.
“Our pit stall was right in front of turn one,” Jones said. “I heard an impact and I saw his car when it ricocheted off the wall. It was sliding down the track right in front of me.”
From that point, Jones simply reacted.
“My first instinct was to run and see if my son was okay,” Jones said. “And then I saw the flames.”
Bright pops of orange shot up from underneath the hood of the car while ignited fuel leaked down the track.
Jones didn’t have proper attire or equipment to deal with the blaze, but that didn’t stop him from scaling the wall and running to his son, who still hadn’t climbed out.
Jones was the first person to reach the car.
“I was just in shorts and a t-shirt,” Jones said. “I jumped the wall and went straight to his car. I had reached in to unbuckle the harness and that was already undone, but something else was caught.”
Wires from Mike’s earpiece and mic had gotten entangled with his Hans device. It took only a handful of seconds to untangle his son and pull him from the car, but for Dean it felt like an eternity.
“It seemed like minutes,” Dean Jones said. “I think several people said it took five seconds from the time that he had stopped for me to get there, and it was like 13 seconds total from the time he was out of the car. But it seemed like a lifetime.”
Jones suffered a few minor cuts from the rescue effort.
“Fortunately, the good Lord had his hand in the situation and Mike came out unscathed and nobody else got hurt,” Jones said. “Looking back at the incident, it’s a little emotional because you realize how quickly things can happen, how quickly you can lose someone you love.”
As a result of violating the track’s policy of entering the racing surface during a race, Jones has been placed on probation for the remainder of the season. However, that was a small price to pay in order to save his son from being severely injured, or worse.
-Story by Melissa Strahley, Speed51.com Deep South Editor
-Photo credit: TM Racing Videos / YouTube