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What caused Parnelli's fire in '64?

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  • What caused Parnelli's fire in '64?

    Me and my uncle are arguing about the cause. He says a the cap sparked it, i read the exhaust did.

    Anybody know?.


    Tj
    Sam Hornish Jr. 2006 Indianapolis 500 and IRL Champion. :D

  • #2
    I always assumed it was sparked by static electricity. I don't believe that there was any spillage involved. In the films you can see that the explosion doesn't take place until after the filler/vent cap has been slamed shut. Almost instantly the top of the fuel tank blows sending the filler/vent assembly straight up as Parnelli starts to pull out. They were lucky no one was hit by the assembly as it sailed through the air. While some level of static electricity is always around it only seems to cause ignition during refueling once in awhile. Once in awhile you will see the same thing on a gas station surveilence video camera when someone catches their fuel tank on fire. I always assumed that somehow a static spark was generated during the closing of the filler caps. Once closed the explosion blew the top off. The reason I thought the spark was generated on closing was that there was no fire during the entire 75 gallon (potentially if empty) refueling before the fire. And the man who pulled out the hose was not burned at all so whatever happened was very sudden at the end of the pit stop.

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    • #3
      At the time it was widely reported that it was a spark from the cap... how would one know that it wasn't static electricity? I guess we are lucky that Todd harris wasn't around back then... no tellin' what he would have said.

      "Ooh woo, I'm a Rebel just for kicks, now
      I been feeling it since 1966, now..."

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      • #4
        And we're lucky Robin wasn't around then.... The race would have been DOOMED!!!!!!!!!!!!

        ZOOOM
        "Doc, just set them fingers sose I can hold the wheel"
        James Hurtubise, June, 1964

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Zooom
          And we're lucky Robin wasn't around then.... The race would have been DOOMED!!!!!!!!!!!!

          ZOOOM
          A lot of people thoought that after the `64 race.

          "Ooh woo, I'm a Rebel just for kicks, now
          I been feeling it since 1966, now..."

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          • #6
            >>"They were lucky no one was hit by the assembly as it sailed through the air."<<

            I think it must have hit a piece of pit equipment before it flew too far. I was leaning on the chain link fence right at Parnelli's pit shooting that stop with my 8mm turret camera when the cap blew. What a mad scramble.

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            • #7
              I had a bird's eye view of the pit stop from Tower terrace just aft of Parneli's pit.

              There was a shorter exhaust pipe on parnelli's car that year, the typical exhaust guard was on the tail pipe, but was about 2 feet longer than the end of the tail pipe. As Johnny Paulson was pulling the fuel nozzle out of the tank, a flash happened and from my elevation you could see the dimm flame. Paulson proceeded to close the cap and it blew almost instantly, deforming the tank as well. The cap went up 20 plus feet I'd estimate.

              The rest is in the pictures.

              I would say that the shorter exhaust, with a mild tail wind, blew the heat out the front and ignited the drippings from the nozzle. It could have been much worse.
              "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
              body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
              "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"
              >

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Whosyer-Sparkplug
                At the time it was widely reported that it was a spark from the cap... how would one know that it wasn't static electricity? I guess we are lucky that Todd harris wasn't around back then... no tellin' what he would have said.
                He would have been too busy telling us about Danica to notice a fire.
                One driver's "fuel strategy" is another driver's "speed up or we will park you!"

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