Corvette fire: how can a car just burn down in front of the fire department??

Jeffrey schmidt drives the burning callaway-corvette C7 GT3-R to the fire department at the ADAC GT masters, but they don’t put out the fire – why no one is really to blame

This shocked many: jeffrey schmidt stops with his burning corvette C7 GT3-R from callaway competition at the sunday race of the ADAC GT masters at the lausitzring 2021 directly in front of the fire department. But instead of extinguishing the fire, the firefighters do not intervene. Instead, schmidt extinguishes his car with a fire extinguisher almost by himself.

It’s chaotic scenes as the corvette pulls up in front of the fire truck. The firefighters are completely surprised by the situation. They can’t believe their eyes at first, then everything seems very uncoordinated. The firefighters look for their helmets, the truck turns 90 degrees to get level with the burning corvette, but no one really seems to know what to do.

Instead, it is jeffrey schmidt himself who extinguishes the corvette with a fire extinguisher from the vestibule of the media center about 50 meters away, which an unknown person has brought to the scene of the incident. When the fire is almost extinguished, sports officials rush in with more fire extinguishers. The fire department itself does not intervene until the end.

"When you park in front of the fire department, you actually expect a little more help", says jeffrey schmidt. His teammate marvin kirchhofer puts it more clearly: "it’s unbelievable and indescribable what happened today."

DMSB initiates investigation

Only a short time later, one of the most curious announcements ever made by the race organizers followed: "the stewards are investigating the firefight in connection with the fire at the #77 schmidt/kirchhofer car."

First of all, it is a sign from the German Motor Sports Association (DMSB) – as a message that they are taking action on this issue. Of course, there is no result of the investigation that will be published in the notice board.

As things stand, the only possibility would be to punish the race director because the fire department falls within his area of responsibility. But that would not have helped anyone.

Why the fire department acted so unhappily

That a race car is on fire for more than a minute directly in front of a fire truck naturally looks unfortunate, to say the least, to any observer. But why were the firefighters apparently completely unprepared and totally overwhelmed by the situation?

This is where the spectrum of tasks comes into play. Because the crew of the fire truck is primarily a task force, which is intended for the case of fires in the pit building, or is called to missions and goes out. In such cases, it’s not a matter of every second.

This also explains the apparent helplessness of the team. The fact that a burning race car comes rolling along has simply not been foreseen for these firefighters in the training so far, because that falls within the scope of the sporting officers.

Theoretically, it would have been better if schmidt had stopped at a trackside post. But surely no one would have acted differently if they had just spotted a fire truck in this situation.

The DMSB will now deal with this issue. It is likely that the training for the emergency crews will be revised. Of course, there will be no quick conclusions on this issue.

Disaster for callaway competition

Of course, this is all very little consolation for callaway competition. The bewilderment was written all over the team’s faces. managing director ernst wohr was still staring at the world hours after the race, stunned and distraught.

"Imagine if jeffrey had still been sitting there because the door wouldn’t have opened. Then we would be talking about completely different things here!", says a team member to ‘motorsport.Com germany’.

It is still unclear how serious the damage to the corvette C7 GT3-R really is. An initial visual inspection revealed mainly damaged carbon parts, which are replaceable, and a caked-on footwell. But how much of the engine compartment and possibly the chassis was destroyed by the fire still has to be investigated.

The same applies to the reason for the fire. It broke out near the left front wheel, where the exhaust manifold of the left cylinder bank runs along. "I noticed on the way into the oval that there were small clouds of smoke coming out of the wheelhouse on the left side. Nothing big or wild", recalls schmidt. " a second later, there were suddenly huge stinging flames through the hood in front of the windshield. Then I knew: now it’s serious."

The exact cause has not yet been determined. But the fire must have been fed by a flammable liquid – gasoline or oil – otherwise it wouldn’t have spread like this within a few seconds.

the only positive news: jeffrey schmidt survived the fire unharmed. He was checked through at the medical center, but is completely okay. For him, the greatest danger was not the fire, but the onboard fire extinguisher: "It’s a gas fire extinguisher. This gas is poisonous and I almost lost consciousness. I had to get back on my feet outside."

Only after this breather he saw that the car was still on fire and no one was putting out the fire. With presence of mind, he took the initiative himself: "i snatched the fire extinguisher out of someone’s hand and saved the car the best i could."

How it goes on with callaway in the ADAC GT masters, will have to be seen. The public’s favorite is not on roses financially. After two costly total losses at the 2019 finale, the corona crisis followed. The 2021 commitment only came about at the last second. There are two and a half weeks of repair time left until the vehicle has to be at the sachsenring.

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Christina Cherry
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