Usually when a pristine supercar sells for an eye-watering figure, it’s destined to spend its time locked away in a billionaire’s private collection. Just look at things like the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR that sold for $143 million last year; do you think many people have seen that at track days or parked outside Monaco’s luxury hotels? But really, how bad could it go if you take a priceless supercar out onto the track? Well, in the case of this Ferrari 250 GTO, it turns out things can go quite badly.
At this weekend’s Goodwood Revival event in the UK, all manner of historic motors were out on track parading around or racing against one another. One such race was the 2023 Lavant Cup, which took place on September 9th and saw a fleet of million-dollar Ferrari’s race against each other.
The half-hour timed race featured a pack of vintage Ferrari 250s, including a 250 LM, the one-off 250 GT SWB Breadvan and a 250 GT Lusso — it was really quite the site to behold.
All was going well for the first 15 minutes, with the cars racing closely and putting on a pretty good show. But then, disaster struck ex-F1 racer turned commentator Karun Chandhok, who was at the wheel of a Ferrari 250 GTO. While running in fourth, a fire sparked under the body of his car, forcing the former HRT F1 driver into a spin that ended on the grass.
In an interview with festival organizers, Chandhok said he was “pinching” himself before he got behind the wheel of one of his “absolute dream cars.” But he explained that the mood shifted when he saw flames out his rear view mirror, as Goodwood reports:
“So part-way around, I was just thinking to myself, ‘how cool is this? I’m in a GTO at Goodwood!’. Then coming out of Lavant onto the straight – I was in second and cruising – I heard a bang and the back wheels locked up. As I turned I saw flames, so I got right off the track safely, to minimize oil going down and get out of the way.”
According to event organizers, the fire was caused by a “hole in the engine.” While the car’s owners haven’t yet identified the cause, they explained that an internal failure caused a “hole in the side of the sump,” which sparked an oil leak. When the oil reached the hot exhaust, it caught fire.
The oil leak on the track below coupled with the engine locking up is what caused Chandhok to spin, but his quick maneuver over to the side of the track meant no other competitors were caught up in the incident.