Face Full of Fire
Think the dangers on pit road are limited to speeding cars, errant tires, lug nuts whizzing around and the occasional stumble over an air hose? Think again.
Fire sometimes rears its evil head in the trenches of pit road, and it did in the March 1 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On Scott Speed’s first pit stop, No. 82 tire rear tire changer Chad Avrit whipped around to change right-side rubber. All seemed to be going smoothly — lug nuts off, tire off, tire on, lug nuts on. But then raw fuel and flames shot out of the exhaust, which wasn’t far away from Avrit’s right arm and face. The same thing happened on the next stop, too.
“You can feel (the fire) the whole time,” said Avrit, 25. “I stayed in there as long as I could to get it done. There was one point where I did actually have to go back for a second when it really flamed up in my face. Yeah, I felt it the whole time. The marks on my arm prove it.”
Indeed, the fire took a toll. Avrit sustained burns on his right forearm and wrist and lost some facial hair.
“I had my sleeve pulled up,” he said. “It’s burned. It’s blistered up. Skin missing. Burned all the hair off. I had glasses on, but it was so hot it actually went through and got some of my eyelashes and eyebrows.”
But Avrit manned up, and the burns barely bothered him the rest of the day, nor did he feel any lingering effects Sunday at Atlanta. As he said, “put a little cream on it, cover it up and don’t worry about it.”
“That’s why we wear what we wear,” Avrit said. “It’s expected that something’s going to happen at least once in your career.”
Click here to watch Avrit meet fire face to face on the team’s Facebook page.