A scary scene unfolded at Georgia’s Senoia Raceway on Independence Day during a race for the Bombers division. The situation ended with one driver going to a local hospital to be treated for second and third degree burns to his forehead, hands and legs.
Bobby Arnold was the early leader in the Bombers feature. He quickly pulled out to a big lead in his white No. 39 machine, but it appeared that something broke in the rear of his car on lap 6, which resulted in him spinning out and backing into the turn two wall. Just a few seconds later, the fuel cell cracked open, which resulted in Arnold’s car being engulfed in flames, according to a report on Senoia Raceway’s website.
“It happened right there in front of me,” said Scott Sherrer, a Hobby Stock driver who was waiting to run the next feature in his car at the exit of turn two. “He came to a stop almost right in front of us. I don’t know if he tried to refire it, but there was fuel leaking out of the back and the fire started in the back of the car, shot up and completely engulfed the car. Everybody, including myself, were yelling, ‘Get him out!'”
To watch the video, click here and skip to the 1:50 mark.
Arnold, from Newnan, Georgia, was able to extricate himself from the burning race car, and was transported to an Atlanta area hospital.
Sherrer estimated that it took Arnold a little over 10 seconds to escape his race car.
“This is an educated guess but I think probably 10 or 12 seconds,” Sherrer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He wasn’t in there very long, but he was in there long enough because the fire was that intense. But that really is just a guess. It might have been just a bit longer, but I really don’t know for sure.”
Sherrer, a former volunteer firefighter, explained that Arnold had to get out by himself because it was almost impossible for anybody to get close enough to Arnold’s race car.
“Nobody could get to the car,” he said. “There was a number of people trying to grab fire extinguishers. They were just trying to do whatever they could to make a difference, but it just happened that quick.”
Arnold’s car was almost completely destroyed, according to Sherrer.
“I’ve been racing for probably 15 years and that’s the worst fire I’ve ever seen,” said Sherrer. “As far as the flames go, when you can’t see a majority of the car because it’s all in flames, then that’s bad.
As of the writing of this story, Arnold was undergoing a skin graft procedure, according to his mother, Dede Mitchell Bright on Facebook.
“He’s an extremely lucky young man to have gotten out of that thing because of how bad it looked,” Sherrer said. “He’s extremely lucky to be alive.”
Speed51.com will hope to have an update on Arnold’s condition in the coming days.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Deep Dixie Racing