Last night we saw a V8 Miata start itself, a home, and a man on fire. I got in touch with the "idiot kid" who did nearly everything wrong in the face of danger. This is why he tried to blow out an engine fire with his mouth, why he sprayed his engine with water, and just how badly he was burned.
Shawn Prince is 23 years old and is building his first project car, a Miata with a 350 V8 under the hood which he's going to take drifting. Sounds like a great first build. Shawn tells me that "This is the very first project car I have done and all the fabrication needed by myself."
When you learn that, the rest of the video seems to fall into place. It also seems like everything that could go wrong for Shawn went wrong for Shawn. It wouldn't start. It backfired. Then it literally caught fire. Why did he keep trying to start the car while it was on fire?
Well my supervisor at work specifically told me that if the carburetor ever caught on fire, just kill fuel and the spark and to keep on cranking so the fire would get ducked back into the motor so that's what I did and it didn't work. (The fuel pump) was still going momentarily because I was freaking out and I accidentally hit the switch and when I realized it was going I immediately turned it off and tried cranking it again and that's when the starter locked up on me
The fire continued to get bigger, and this is when Shawn dove in head first, literally, to put the fire out. "My adrenaline was going so fast and the fire was going small at the moment so I gave it a couple blows and that didn't work." No, it didn't work. That's when he got the hose.
It initially looked like just his shirt briefly caught fire, but that's far from the case. Shawn has first and second degree burns on his left arm and left leg. I'm not very good at looking at gore, so his left hand is pretty hard for me to stomach
He says the car is actually in pretty decent shape. The 350 V8 should be salvageable and he'll take a look to see if there's any damage on the car itself. But he should be able to finish the build.
I asked him what he's going to do differently in the future, and, well, he has a few key changes that he'll be making to his garage setup:
Well first off, I will have a fire extinguisher or 2 nearby.
Second off I'm going to pull the car outside and put it in the street.
Third, i will make sure the gas tank is in the back of the car
Fourth, I'll have exhaust manifolds on it so it won't be shooting flames.
Shawn's employer doesn't provide health insurance, so he's working to crowd source a little aid to help cover for time missed at work at work as well as his burns. He's a straight-up guy who might be a bit of a newbie at garage work (we've all been there and some of us still are), so if you want to help him out click here.
Hopefully he learns from his mistake and doesn't let something like this happen in the future. I also hope he keeps working on his car and finishes that drift Miata.