Typically NASCAR races have highlight reels that include an amazing maneuver by racer briefly drafting and pulling ahead to victory on a pivotal turn. This year, the Daytona 500 was riddled with problems with the first being all of the rain they received. The Daytona race was postponed all the way until Monday night prime time for the final part of the Daytona 500 race. One of the biggest highlights of Monday night’s February 27th, 2012 race was the fiery explosion.
Everyone that watches NASCAR races these days has seen the infamous jet dryers going around the track. These jet dryers were popular in the Daytona 500 because of all the rain so that the race could go on with a dry surface. The jet dryers are also used to clean off debris off the track and are used for that because they have such a powerful burst of air.
If you’re wondering why it’s called a jet dryer it’s because it has a real jet engine powering the air flow. The temperature of the air exhaust can reach around 1,100 degrees which speeds drying times. A typical jet dryer hold around around 200 gallons of fuel and burns just about that much in an hour. According to Gizmodo, “During one race in April of 2007, the crews at MIS burned an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of jet fuel to dry the track.”
The Daytona 500 had one of those perfect, or unperfect depending on how you look at it, moments happen where a car out of control smashed into the side of a jet dryer busting open it’s fuel tank spilling 200 gallons of jet fuel all down the NASCAR Daytona International Speedway. With one small ingintion of fire the incident turned into a stream of blazing hot fire that literally cooked away the racetrack in mere seconds.
The Daytona 500 fire all started when Juan Pablo Montoya’s #42 car had a suspension piece break off his car veering him sideways down the racetrack sliding uncontrollably into the jet engine of a jet dryer cleaning debris off the NASCAR track in caution. According to NASCAR this event led to a 2 hour and 5 minute red flag during the Daytona 500.
While Juan Montoya was fine besides a banged up foot that hit his clutch in the crash, the jet dryer driver, named Duane Barnes was transported to Halifax Medical Center. Mr. Barnes was later released in okay condition after being thoroughly examined. The jet fuel cleanup was the most painful process for NASCAR fans as they had to endure red flag wait time that went the length of a feature movie.
NASCAR described the intensive process taken to clean the Daytona 500 fire from the track, “We had to respond to the incident, deal with the driver of the jet truck, the driver of the race car, had to suppress the fire, then applied quick dry or oil dry to soak up any of the excess fuel that was still there,” he said. “Following that, we watered the track. We soaped the track. We then watered it again to clean up any soap. After that we applied street bond to make sure any excess stone or anything that was showing from the fuel leak was covered. We then dried it with blowers, with one of our sweepers, and then we actually ran a jet dryer over it. It was about a 10- or 11-step process.”
You can watch some of the most popular YouTube videos below of the jet dryer fire explosions and the entire cleanup process below. There are multiple different views and commentaries that will let you see how amazing of a NASCAR explosion this really was and how much it took to clean up the unfortunate events of Juan Montoya.
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You can also watch an exclusive interview done by ESPN of Juan MOntoya on the jet dryer crash that created the memorable Dayton 500 fire explosion: