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HOT BODIES Fire Haunted The Grabowski Brothers In Unexpected Places By Stuart Bourdon The Grabowski Brothers Racing Team has been running a Class 5 car for quite some time and a few years ago, began campaigning the No. 272 SCORE TT Spec truck in SCORE. The team has had several experiences with fires and driver Dustin Grabowski, recalls their last one during the 2023 SCORE Baja 400, which took a toll on their competitive efforts. The experience left the team with some valuable lessons which they have since made alterations to prevent this from happening again. “It happened about mile 100 during the 2023 SCORE Baja 400, on the highway section heading to Mike’s, right before the turn off to Mike’s Sky Ranch,” said Dustin Grabowski. “My brother Jack was driving the truck down the speed section and a bunch of dried bushes had become caught up and packed in behind the doors next to the exhaust system. They ended up catching fire and it traveled to the doors, the hood. Pretty much all of the fiberglass on the driver and passenger side were on fire.” The truck was equipped with an in-vehicle fire suppression system but because the fire was not in the areas the system was directing the suppressant agent to, they continued to have a problem. “Fortunately, Jack was able to pull over into the Concrete Motorsport pit. All the Concrete team guys had fire extinguishers on the truck. Jack pulled the handle for the fire suppression system in the truck, and it helped, but it was the fiberglass body that was burning,” said Grabowski. “The fire was so hot, that it didn’t put it all out. The Concrete pit crew had a Sawzall and were able to cut the fiberglass that was on fire off the truck. Then they used their fire equipment to put it out. After the fire was out, we were able to continue racing.” While this fire was not due to the usual fuel or oil line leaking or breaking, it was something that the team had experienced the year before. Both times, it seemed that dried brush from the course had become packed in between the doors and the exhaust. “The first time was at the 2022 SCORE Baja 500,” said Grabowski. “That was the year it had rained so much right before the race.” Grabowski recalled he was in the driver’s seat that time. “I was driving along and noticed the truck was on fire on the same speed section going toward Mike’s, and noticed it reflecting on the chrome bumper on the truck that I was following in the speed zone section. I could see orange flames underneath the front of my truck. But I knew from pre-running the racecourse that there was a bunch of big puddles of water up ahead.” Thinking quickly and knowing the course, Grabowski had an idea to quickly put it out. “I decided to keep going knowing the truck was on fire and when I reached the areas with the puddles, I drove through the deeper water sections and was able to put out the fire.” When installing their in-vehicle system, the team had not thought that the exhaust and side body panels were areas requiring nozzles for the fire suppressant. “Our Safecraft fire suppression system consists of two five-pound bottles with a pull cord inside the car,” said Grabowski. “We also have two five-pound fire extinguishers mounted on the truck; one at the back and one at the front thatx are easily accessible. The issue with the second fire was that once the fiberglass body was burning, it was tough to put it out.” After this second fire, the team found a way to prevent this from happening in the future. “We have changed the way the body is mounted on the chassis and added more space in-between the exhaust and the outer fiberglass body,” said Grabowski. “We also painted the back of our doors with some fire-resistant material to help prevent this from happening again.”

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