Three cars became a giant, nightmarish wall of fire at a Washington short track Saturday, which the Seattle Times reports track announcers said was “one of the scariest” in its 63 years. The Times reports that everyone was OK, and the driver who had to be hospitalized was at work the next day preaching in a local church.
The Times reports that this all happened at the Toyota 100 over the weekend, a Super Late Model race headlining with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event at Evergreen Speedway. The track has six configurations—several ovals, a drag strip, a road course and a figure eight—and the Super Late Models were running on the outer 5/8-mile paved oval.
The wreck started when a driver’s engine blew into the first turn, dumping oil on the track and picking up the cars of both Rev. Jeff Knight and a driver named Tyler Tanner.
Knight, Tanner and the racer with the blown engine, Trenton Moriarity, crashed in the first turn. The three cars burst into flames that kept on spreading, making for the kind of scene you don’t want to see at any track—let alone a local one that could be less equipped for such a disaster than major racing circuits:
You can hear the rather panicked commentary from track announcers in this video, telling spectators to stay off of the fence and away from the flames:
The track posted a video of the wreck on Facebook the next day, captioning it:
It was a scary night at Evergreen Speedway in the Toyota 100 Super Late Model race as Trenton Moriarity, Jeff Knight and Tyler Tanner were involved in a fiery crash in turn 1. All drivers walked away with minor injuries. Thank you to the drivers for helping eachother [sic] and our amazing safety crew at Evergreen Speedway.
The Times reports that Evergreen had one of its biggest crowds of the season, around 3,000, at the track for the K&N race when the wreck occurred. Here’s how the wreck went for Knight, according to the Times:
Video of the crash had more than 100,000 views by midmorning Sunday on Facebook. Knight estimated that the cars were traveling at about 120 mph when Moriarty’s engine blew.
Knight, 47, said he was “speechless” when he saw video of the fireball around his car. He said he tried at first to fight the flames “then Tyler pulled me out. He got me by the shoulders.”
Knight said, “A driver’s worst nightmare is fire.”
The crash delayed the race by 35 minutes and officials shortened it from 100 laps to 75, according to the Times. Knight told the paper that he hoped to have the car repaired by September, because the crash scared his daughter and he wants to show her that he can finish a race safely.
Knight was the only one of the three drivers involved to require hospitalization, the Times reports. He went to a nearby hospital Saturday night and doctors there consulted burn specialists elsewhere, according to the Times, which also reports that Knights worst burns were on his neck and that the fire singed his nose hair and eyebrows.
But Knight, a preacher at the local The Rock Church in Monroe, Washington, was up for work the next morning. He told the Times he “felt that [he] needed to tell people [he] was the same Jeff coming out of the fire as going in, just a little more grateful.”
Well, yeah, that sure does sound like something to be grateful for.