A sad day recently literally erupted on the track for the owner of this 2017 Long Beach Red C7 Z06.
The Corvette had just 14,000 miles and no power mods, only cooling mods and suspension mods for track duty. He had used it for 20 track days over the past 11 months, describing his ownership experience as “just like an ex-girlfriend. It was great while it lasted but there were signs she was a psycho from the beginning.”
During what would turn out to be his final track session with the car at Laguna Seca in late May, the owner – who ultimately posted in-depth about his misfortunes on Corvette Forum, where he’s known as dllhg – says he first noticed smoke in the cabin seven laps into his first session, with the temperature outside just 65 degrees.
The smoke escalated very quickly, and dllhg writes that he began to search immediately for a good place to pull over, deciding on a spot between turn 5 and turn 6 in “a nice dirt patch.”
It was so smoky inside the cabin that he says he had a hard time breathing. After immediately undoing his six-point harness, he couldn’t get the door to open and had to use the manual lever. Upon exiting the vehicle, he spotted small flames dropping below the car in the right rear.
The track tow arrived in minutes and the driver extinguished the small fire probably five or six times, dllhg says, but then suddenly the cabin erupted into flames.
“I yell[ed] at him to pull back and that the car was gone at this point,” dllhg says. “I didn’t want anyone getting hurt – had ¾ tank of fuel.”
As you can see in the accompanying photos, the car soon turned into a healthy ball of fire. “Fire dept arrived very quickly,” he posted. “Fire started in right rear and moved over to the left rear when it really got going.”
He describes it as “a very surreal experience” watching the car he had invested so much time and money on “just burn to the ground.”
But he says he’s “grateful to be okay,” though his lungs were sore for a few days. Still, he kept telling the firefighters “it’s just a car – replaceable.”
Speaking of replacements, dllhg says he doesn’t plan on getting another Corvette and listed a few possible choices on the forum.
As for the cause of the fire, dllhg says the firefighters don’t think it was fuel nor a bad aftermarket battery. He believes it might be related to the trans line in the right rear as 2017 and older cars have a small flex section with no heat shielding (2018 and above do have heat shielding, by the way.) “Thanks for the afterthought, GM,” he jokes.
After another Corvette Forum member texted him some photos of that area when he had his car totally taken apart, dllhg came up with a theory. “Lots of heat up in there from exhaust … maybe the line got brittle and finally sprung a leak? Differential seems less likely. On the left side was a trans cooler. I’m guessing once the fire got bigger it jumped over there … won’t ever know for certain.”
Fortunately, dllhg did have a track insurance policy, though he says he had to leave his custom wheels on the car because he didn’t have the stock wheels to replace them with for insurance. “Luckily I did not have my brand new set of same exact wheels and brand new tires on yet,” he posted, noting that he sold them a few days after the fire at a $1,500 loss to another member – “a nice guy and needed the break.”
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