ARCA: Finney Team At A Crossroads After Toledo Practice Blaze

Jacob Seelman ARCA, Featured 6 Comments

Brian Finney’s No. 80 Chevrolet was completely destroyed after a fire during ARCA practice on Saturday at Toledo Speedway.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A handful of days removed from a shocking accident and subsequent fire that destroyed Brian Finney’s No. 80 Bob Steele Chevrolet at Toledo Speedway, his Florida-based team finds themselves at a crossroads.

After all, it’s not every day that the safety of the sport is brought into question in the way that Finney’s team found themselves questioning it on their way home Saturday night.

To circle back, both Finney and teammate Scott Reeves were practicing for the Menards 200 on Saturday morning when a fire broke out underneath Finney’s car as he exited turn four and crossed the start-finish line during one of his runs.

As flames shot out from the right front corner of Finney’s car, the race track remained green until Finney coasted over to the Turn 2 end of the race track, where he finally came to a halt as the yellow flag waved.

At that point, Reeves’ spotter Rob Clark picks up the shocking account of the blaze and the events that ensued.

“I thought the caution would have come out way before it did, to be honest with you,” Clark explained to Race Chaser Online. “But by the time the car came to a stop in (Turn) 2, I could see that the car was flaming from both front corners and we were all getting nervous.”

“I could see that Brian was having trouble getting out, because of all of the safety equipment, but what shocked me is that nobody tried to get him out of there. The safety vehicle pulled up away from the car, and the officials just got out and stood there. Nothing happened … and they didn’t even try to do anything to help; they were just standing there watching the car burn.”

Brian Finney’s car sits ablaze during ARCA practie at Toledo Speedway on Saturday.

What happened next was even more shocking, Clark said.

“It got to the point where finally, Brian just ran over and grabbed an extinguisher to put the fire out himself. I couldn’t believe it.”

After the fire was finally out, the damage was evident. A brand-new car, complete with an ARCA Ilmor 396 spec engine, was destroyed from the inside-out.

Reeves was on-track as the fire began on Finney’s machine, and said if he had known that the safety response was going to be “that bad,” he would have stopped his car on the backstretch and helped his teammate instead of pulling into the infield.

“First, let me say that the bottom line is, I’m so thankful that Brian was able to get out and that he’s okay, because this could have been so much worse than what it was,” Reeves explained. “It’s tough though, when you look at what did happen.”

“Brian told me that he was struggling to get out of the car because of the HANS (head and neck restraint) and how frustrated he was that none of the safety workers even came to help him take the window net down. Stop and think how bad this could have been had he not been able to get out of the car on his own. His (helmet) visor was screwed up from the heat … it was that bad.”

Continued on the next page…

Comments 6

  1. Maybe ARCA should pay for the car since they just stood there and watched it burn, and thank God Brian wasn’t hurt

  2. Hello All….I have been in and around racing for 50 years now. First,so glad Brian was unhurt. BUTT….I’m am so unhappy with the circumstance. I’m a chassis builder that does so much to insure the safety of drivers. I’ve saved lives by doing what I do.
    These people need to step up and take responsibility for what they have done. I have NO idea how they could have just stood there…. Thankfully this is RARE. With all the incidents I’ve been around, MOST safety crews do what they are trained for. A good friend of mine is on the safety team for F-1/ Indy type racing and they RE-TRAIN constantly.

    I am mainly happy with safety crews BUT THIS HAS TO BE DEALT WITH ! ! ! ! (worse,Toledo was my home base)

  3. No excuse for fire / crash units to be fully staffed and trained at all times when cars are on the track.
    ARCA owes this team and driver an official public apoloigy​ and replace the car that was distroyed by their errors by not having proper safety crews.

  4. Same thing happened at Bakersfield Speedway (Oildale, CA) a couple of seasons ago. And it’s only a 3/8th’s-mile track. I would hope these good people would simply leave ARCA and go race with the WoO DL-M series. Clearly, participants’ safety is NOT their primary focus.

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