After missing a few races in 2017, NMCA Fastest Street Car NA 10.5 driver Mike DeMayo Jr. was ready to commit to a full season of competition in 2018.
He began by blasting to a 7.79 to lead qualifying, become the first in the class to achieve 7.70s and set the class elapsed-time record at the season-opening race, the 16th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, March 8-11 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
He earned a bye-run for the first round of eliminations and was to face Dwight Ausmus and his Firebird in the second round of eliminations, but right after his burnout, a fire erupted under his Mustang, which features a 415ci small-block Ford built by Gaby Labiosa of EIC Motorsports, Ford D3 heads, an Edelbrock intake, Braswell carb and Ice Ignition.
“Everything with my burnout was fine, but when I hit the brakes, the whole front window fogged over with condensation, and I heard the fuel pump start to cavitate air like it was out of fuel, and right after that, Gaby (Labiosa) yelled ‘Fire’ and I was trying to get the hell out of the car as fast as I could,” said DeMayo Jr. “I didn’t know if it was going to get worse or explode. While the starting line crew was working to put out the fire, Gaby worked to get all eight Dzus fasteners on the hood undone so that he could throw the hood off, and he said it was extremely hot. Believe it or not, the nearly two gallons of fuel in my cell were emptied within about 20 seconds.”
As soon as DeMayo, Labiosa and the rest of their crew returned to their pit area, they went over the car in search of the cause of the fire, and to determine the extent of the damage.
“There was a crack on the fitting where the fuel line threads into the carburetor, and we’re really not sure when or why it cracked,” said DeMayo Jr.
While nobody was burned during the intense incident, the car’s carbon fiber hood and front clip were melted, as were the RacePak components, Aeromotive fuel lines, Jesel belt drive, belts for the vacuum pump and the Ice Ignition crank-driven distributor. Additionally, the Braswell carburetor sustained some damage. The engine, however, was not compromised.
“It could have been a lot worse, and that’s how I have to look at it,” said DeMayo Jr., who has already turned his focus to having his car back together in time for the 10th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport, April 5-8, 2018 at Atlanta Dragway. “I’m trying to find a replacement carbon fiber hood and front clip, but if I can’t get my hands on them before the race, I’ll patch up what I have. It will look like hell, because it was, after all, on fire, but it would be structurally okay, and that’s what matters.”
(Written by Mary Lendzion, with photos by Kevin DiOssi and video by Amie Lynn Williams)