An incident at Oswego Speedway (NY) Saturday left one driver with non-life-threatening injuries after a frightening fire erupted at “The Steel Palace.”
In Saturday’s 350 Supermodified feature, Vern LaFave and Dalton Doyle battled for the win over the closing laps. LaFave ultimately won the race, but the duo made contact entering turn one following the checkered flag, turning LaFave into the wall.
A fire immediately erupted, and just as immediately Oswego’s fire and safety teams extricated LaFave to safety and worked to extinguish the fire. ‘
In an interview with Syracuse.com, LaFave detailed the harrowing ordeal.
“I could immediately feel the extreme heat and I knew I had to get myself out of there as quick as possible,” LaFave told Syracuse.com. "I had a problem getting my belts undone, but when I did, I got up through the top of the cage and just fell backwards into the fire surrounding the car. Fortunately, a member of the Oswego safety crew stepped into the fire and dragged me to safety,"
LaFave is currently being treated at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse for burns suffered in the incident.
“I’ve got second and third degree burns on my hands and arms and I’m scheduled for some skin graft work this Wednesday,” LaFave said. "But I was wearing a topline, two-layer firesuit with fireproof underwear. I had a new Simpson helmet, along with gloves, sox and racing shoes and without that I wouldn’t have made it.
Oswego Speedway posted a statement on its Facebook page Sunday, offering well-wishes to LaFave during his recovery.
"We are very happy to report that 350 Super driver Vern LaFave is recovering from the injuries he sustained in last night's accident,” the statement read. “LaFave is in good spirits, and told the team at Syracuse.com that he has to give all the praise to the Oswego fire crew. They are the best in the business, took a real bad situation and did a great job getting things stopped.' Our Oswego Speedway family wishes Vern well on his road to recovery."
LaFave also offered a cautionary warning to young racers while thanking his car builder, Mike Muldoon, for building a safe vehicle.
"I just want to take this time to remind all the young drivers in the area to get the best fire equipment available,” LaFave stated. “Because many times it could be a matter of life or death.”
Speed51 extends its well-wishes to LaFave and his family, and wishes him a speedy recovery.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Stacie Pryor video