A Mustang GT350 had a major engine failure at Roebling Road Raceway in Georgia, sending a bunch of oil out of its oil filter adapter housing—oil that eventually touched something hot, and turned into a massive fireball. Here are some photos of the blaze and the aftermath, which can best be described thusly: holy shit.

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According to the guy behind the wheel, Joe “HiPo Joe” Charles, a snap ring in his Mustang GT350's oil cooler thermostat failed while he was driving hot lamps around Roebling Road back in April. The failed snap ring caused a plug to be pushed out of the oil filter adapter housing, sending loads of oil out of the engine. Joe thinks that oil touched the catalytic converter, and turned into a huge fireball.

But the fire wasn’t the only terrifying bit; perhaps just as terrifying was the fact that Joe, who was at the time traveling 100 MPH, lost all brakes. Joe says in his Facebook post:

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The heat from the flames must have been very intense as the brake fluid boiled and the brake pedal went to the floor. So now I’m still running 100+ MPH on fire with no brakes.

So Joe tried pulling the park brake:

With no hydraulic brakes I tried to use the emergency brake. I knew that I couldn’t yank it up because it would lock the rear wheels causing me to lose what little bit of control I had. About 20% through the travel of the lever, the cable snapped.

With no brakes, Joe popped the car into first, dumped the clutch and prayed. Luckily, the car rolled to a stop “less than 30’ from corner station and the fire extinguishers.”

Joe told me over the phone that he’s lucky he was on a track, where a safety crew could get to him quickly. He wasn’t hurt at all in the incident.

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As for the car—which had a full Kooks exhaust, JLT cold air intake, and a custom tune from HP tuners—Joe said Ford bought it back from him only 90 days after the accident. Joe asked me over the phone to stress that “Ford has been very very very good to [him].”

Here’s just the text from Joe’s Facebook post:

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It was the last session of the day, I had no idea it would come so close to being my last session ever…

On April 30, 2016 I was running a track event in my 2016 GT350 Mustang at Roebling Road. Being my second track event in the car I was slowly gaining confidence in the car and more especially myself. This was the most capable car I had ever driven on track and she was fast. I spent most of the day creeping up on my abilities behind the wheel and was nowhere near the capabilities of the car.

He went on:

The forecast was hot and muggy so the organizers of the event announced that drivers of streetcars wouldn’t have to wear long pants. So I wore my standard everyday shorts and t-shirt along with my helmet and gloves.

I had been on the track about 15 minutes of the last session when I experienced a catastrophic engine component failure. This caused a massive oil leak. The oil ignited on the exhaust. If this wasn’t bad enough, the oil fire caused the main fuel line to rupture. At this point, the bottom of the car was fully engulfed. The fireball was two lanes wide and trailed behind the car at least 25’.

I had just exited the last turn onto the front straight when all hell broke loose. I was following a BMW and had just been given a “point by” to pass. I checked my mirrors and initiated the pass. As I’m accelerating pass the “yielding” BMW I was able to go from 3rd gear into 4th gear. This would have me running 125ish MPH as I was about to merge back in front of him. When I checked my mirrors again I saw the large fireball.

Joe’s post continues:

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My first reaction was “Oh no, what’s happened to the BMW?!?”. Before I could even finish that thought I realized that the flames were coming from me. My very next thought was “Oh fuck, I’m on fire.” I knew I needed to get off the track, but the pit wall was to my right and the “racing line” and other fast cars were on my left. I lifted and started trying to slow the car down.

The heat from the flames must have been very intense as the brake fluid boiled and the brake pedal went to the floor. So now I’m still running 100+ MPH on fire with no brakes. By now I’m past the pit wall and I’ve made my way on to the grass running along side the track.

One thing all racers know is to get off the racing line as soon as possible when there is trouble. Another thing HPDE guys know is there will always be fire extinguishers at corner stations and I was quickly approaching the one at T1.

With no hydraulic brakes I tried to use the emergency brake. I knew that I couldn’t yank it up because it would lock the rear wheels causing me to lose what little bit of control I had. About 20% through the travel of the lever, the cable snapped.

Sometime during all this, I had turned the car off. So I’ve got zero brakes and no power steering. By now I’ve also got fire in the cabin and I’m still hauling ass burning like a meteor on reentry. I did the only other thing I knew to do. I put the car in first gear and dumped the clutch. Some how I was able to get the car stopped without losing control less than 30’ from corner station and the fire extinguishers.

The corner workers were yelling for me to get out of the car. They didn’t realize just how badly I wanted out of the car! LOL Normally if you have an incident on track you are instructed to stay in the car until the safety team arrives on scene. One of the few exceptions is a fire.

I got out of the car and raced to grab an extinguisher and started fighting the fire myself. The safety crew got to me within seconds and quickly got the fire put out. I walked away without a scratch. I never felt the heat from the fire. I am certain that I had someone riding with me keeping me safe. It wasn’t my time to die.

Ford and my local dealer Prater Ford have been very good to me. My 2016 GT350 is being replaced with a 2017 GT350R. This has been one hell of an emotional roller coaster and I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

Good god that’s a giant fireball.

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h/t: Hooniverse