Ben's Babbles: Fire, fire everywhere

“Holy cow, I’ve got to get home and see that,” I thought to myself while sitting through the Hood River City Council meeting.

I never watch NASCAR, but the picture on’s front page was enough to make me dash home and turn on the TV as soon as the meeting ended.

With 40 laps to go in a Daytona 500 which had already been delayed a day and a half due to rain, and featured several spectacular crashes in the early laps, Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and plowed into a track-drying truck.

This was a big deal to begin with, considering that the race was under caution and that the dryer truck driver was not equipped with the same crash protective harnesses and restraints that the drivers have.

But that was not the most concerning part. The dryers mounted on the trucks are surplus helicopter jet engines which are powered by 200 gallons of kerosene jet fuel. Fuel which promptly began dumping on the track. Fuel which then shortly became a burning river of jet fuel.

Track fire crews attempted to put it out, but initial efforts proved futile as the fire would be beat back and then quickly come streaming down the asphalt again.

It reminded me of when I was a kid and I had a model I didn’t want come Fourth of July. Put a couple of those really bright strobing fireworks in it.

A few minutes later you had flaming molten plastic. And some horribly noxious brain cell- killing fumes. That might explain a few things about my writing ability and poor spelling.

Eventually the fire was put out. Amazingly enough Montoya walked away unharmed; despite the fact his car was completely destroyed. The truck driver was helped away unharmed, or at least living to drive again another day.

If NASCAR reduces all of its races to 40 laps and has the cars dodging track drying trucks throughout the race, I would probably tune in every week.

I thought there had been enough fiery explosions for one week. Nope.

On Wednesday afternoon I was sitting in the office when a call come over the scanner about a car which had caught fire while being towed behind a tow truck.

Fire crews from Cascade Locks were initially sent the wrong way. While they were en route the car’s gas tank exploded and the car was soon fully engulfed in flames.

Witness and photography wizard Peter Marbach sent some photos showing the car going from the smoking stage to bursting into flames.

Not that the firefighters were fazed.

“It was a pretty run-of-the-mill vehicle fire,” said Cascade Locks Lt. Jess Zerfing.

It did, however, give me a good idea.

Perhaps if they were to include the jet dryers, and tow trucks pulling flaming cars in addition to the cars zooming around the track at 200 miles-per-hour then I would totally watch NASCAR, no matter how long the races were.

But perhaps that’s a little to Mad Max-esque.

It would potentially also result in enough burning gasoline, rubber, fuel to melt most of the asphalt on track and create clouds of noxious fumes.

And that would not be good for anyone’s brain cells.

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