One small failure ended this car's life.
Seeing a vehicle go up in flames never fails to garner attention. It’s certainly disheartening when the car is something special like a Mustang Shelby GT350, though technically speaking we never see flames in this video. That is, we don’t see direct flames – at the 1:20 mark of this lengthy video from Adam LZ we see a reflection of flames in a cell phone attached to the car’s windshield, which prompted the driver to quickly exit the track. From that point forward the Shelby puts on a smoke show, but it's not the fun kind that leads to gratuitous tire destruction.
Posted to YouTube on May 13, this video chronicles the premature destruction of Adam’s 2017 Mustang Shelby GT350, and the minor failure that led to the fire. Professional racing driver Collete Davis was at the wheel, turning laps at Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park when things went wrong on her fourth lap. She describes a big bang followed by white smoke after downshifting to second, with flames briefly appearing before she pulled off the track.
A service vehicle was on the scene with a fire extinguisher almost immediately, followed shortly by a second vehicle and third with more fire extinguishers. The fire originated on the left side of the engine bay, but it ultimately wasn’t extinguished until firefighters arrived with hoses and water. To the track’s credit, resources were mobilized quickly and though the engine bay was properly destroyed, the rest of the car was saved.
Gallery: Mustang Shelby GT350 Fire
So what happened? Apparently there’s an issue with GT350 oil filters working loose. In fact, Ford launched a customer satisfaction program that details the issue and even supplied GT350 owners with a complimentary package containing a new oil filter, a special filter cap wrench, and specific instructions to always tighten the filter to 16-18 pound-feet (22-24 Newton-meters) of torque. Failure to do so could cause the filter to come loose, spraying oil onto the engine. Not enough torque can also cause the oil filter gasket to blow out.
That’s exactly what happened here. The video zooms in at the 1:09 mark to show the oil pressure gauge. It drops barely a second before Davis lifts, and a subsequent investigation showed the oil filter gasket had indeed failed. Curiously, the filter was still tight and according to the video, a Ford dealership had recently changed the oil and tightened the OEM filter to specification.
Ultimately, a satisfactory settlement was reached between the car owner, the insurance company, and Ford on this issue though obviously the details are kept private. More importantly, nobody was injured. As for the car, the owner still has possession and might attempt a resurrection of some kind, depending on the severity of frame damage upfront. All things considered, it’s not a terrible ending to an ordeal that could’ve been far worse.