“I was surrounded by fire, and all I could do was stop and get out,” Moss, of Cherryville, North Carolina, said. “I locked up the brakes, cut the fuel off, shut the car down, and I never took it out of gear. It stopped quickly. My World-of-Outlaws-mandated fire suppression system [from Lifeline] went off, but I was personally still on fire.”
Moss quickly unleashed his belts from Hooker Harness, bailing from his ButlerBuilt full-containment seat. He wore a Bell helmet, Hinchman fire suit, Simpson shoes, and Oakley gloves.
“I jumped out and rolled down the track,” Moss said. “Luckily, [fellow drivers] Jordon [Mallett] and Blake [Hahn] realized the severity of the incident and immediately stopped to help me.”
Mallett and Hahn jumped on top of Moss to try to extinguish the fire. A track crew member then emptied a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
About an hour after the fire, Moss realized the extent of his injuries.
“I have burn blisters on my ankles from the intense heat,” said Moss. “Other than that, I have a sunburn-type burn to my knees and hands. The Hinchman fire suit held up very well. The outside turned colors, but the inside was not damaged. The fire did not burn through. The Simpson leather shoes did not burn through, either.”
Surprisingly, the car from Maxim Racing incurred little damage, with most of the damage confined to the fuel line.
“The fuel line came loose from the fuel pump, which is situated between my legs in the cockpit,” Moss said. “It ignited fuel immediately, maybe from the heat of the brakes.”
Lance Moss said he had learned something from his experience.
“We know now to make sure we check the fuel lines to make sure they are tight,” said Moss. “After feeling the heat on my head and neck, I will be buying a head sock [aka balaclava] as soon as I can.”
In addition, while his fire suppression system went off, Moss questioned the positioning of its nozzle to spray the agent, in this case Novec 1230. He did admit that it bought him some time.
“I am going to change to a system that has lines where you can put the nozzles wherever you want,” Moss said. “I want it to spray me — not the tail tank, not the motor — I want me to be wet so I have more time to get out. Lot of drivers are talking about multiple nozzles.”
Novec 1230 is stored as a liquid but dissipates as a gas once the system is activated. Lifeline USA Brand Manager Brandon Marshall cautioned racers on nozzle placement for its Lifeline Zero 360 SFI 17.3 Sprint Car fire suppression system.
“If the nozzle were to be aimed at the driver or the upper body, it could impede the driver’s egress from the race car, or the driver’s ability to drive, which in the worst-case scenario could cause a wreck,” said Marshall. “The nozzle, where it has been agreed to be mounted [with the World of Outlaws], is positioned to create a barrier between the fuel and the driver when fire occurs.”
This weekend, Lance Moss races at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, for its three-day ASCS event. While he questioned whether he might race, he finished 19th on Thursday in the A-main.
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.