Ken Block 2018 NEFR Crash

Ken Block NEFR Crash and Burn

Ken Block, a world-class rally driver, crashed at the 2018 New England Forest Rally. His car caught fire immediately.

Watch the quick video just below. Then I want you to imagine you’re a ham radio operator standing within 100 feet of the burning car.

  • What would you do as soon as you saw this happen?
  • Are you mentally prepared to maintain control of yourself, gather the needed data, and transmit it to the stage captain?
  • Will your equipment be up to the task? Will you be able to hear if a crowd forms near you?

What questions did I forget? Put them in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Ken Block 2018 NEFR Crash

  1. Can you accurately relate your position on the course? very important. ? Have you any experience in the operation of a fire extinguisher? People will want to help will you let them?

  2. Clearly communicate the 3 W’s
    What – Clearly communicate the basics, “car off, roll over,heavy damage, on fire”
    Where- Specific area “Stage 12, Turn 6, 100ft from Radio Position XYZ”
    Who – Drivers, Spectators, Officials and what obvious injuries “Driver and Navigator self extricated no others involved”
    Then LISTEN – wait for questions from control, I have seen this go bad so many times. People will call for help and give all kinds of info not necessary to the response.
    Scene safety is a concern here too. Drivers are out, the car fire is very secondary at this point. Until the stage is stopped it must be considered “hot”. Keep yourself safe first.

  3. The ommunicator and the responder do not have to be the same person, and in this situation it was relayed succinctly to the people that needed to respond.
    What was a difficult response was that there was not a route books pages for running counter race on the shorted section, we had to guess at turns and dips.
    The power to the fuel pump was never turned off, and this meant it was a wait till empty for capable extinguishment of the flammable metal and race fuel.

  4. I have been at two car fires and a DC-8 explosion among other things. One car fire was at Icicle Brook, mid point right at the actual Icicle Brook. It was fully engulfed in flames from the firewall forward, 3 feet from my Unimog. Our main concern was getting the fire out before we were killed in a forest fire. We used all of the 5 extinguishers available, two were mine. The car was off the road, no need to transmit for a while. The fuel shutoff switch wires had apparently melted together, so When Chris shut it off, fuel kept spraying into the engine compartment. While we used one extinguisher after another, he was scrambling into the rear of the car through the cage and ripped the wires off the pump. I was running back and forth to the brook with my cooler, dipping for water and throwing it on the surrounding brush, which had become brown and crinkly, and on the engine compartment to cool it. Bring fire extinguishers for auto, a bucket, first aid kit, etc. After it was out, when there was a break in radio traffic, I transmitted the situation. Nobody seemed interested, if I recall correctly. There were a bunch of local, somewhat inebriated spectators standing where he was headed with the car. They all performed flawlessly, scrambling out of the way,one running to his SUT for a fire extinguisher. There was no thought of “letting folks help or not” Our survival was only going to be ensured by putting the fire out. The spectators behaved perfectly, a great help, and the rally didn’t miss a beat, well except for one car that didn’t show up at finish. Lesson learned – If people have come in from a side road, have them turn all of their vehicles facing away from the course for a quick get-away. If you don’t know, ask them if your vehicles can make it through that road. If so, turn yours in that direction too. If not, ask them if any have room to lug you out if you have to abandon your vehicle. If need be, you can sit on a cargo deck or cling to a roll cage. Plan this ahead with the spectators.

  5. The other car fire was also near mid point of Icicle Brook.This time there was a wide gravel side road we were backed into, just close enough to see the car numbers. Good thing I was way back, a car, also fully engulfed under the hood came in, sliding sideways towards us to get stopped. Plenty of room this time, about 10 feet from our Grand Cherokee. Grabbed a fire extinguisher, but no need, the co-driver got it out with theirs. Again, no need for immediate transmission as it was off the road. Transmitted info in a couple of minutes between normal traffic.

  6. BTW, The fire in the wide gravel road happened at the first and last rally my wife attended. She could never come before as it was always on guard weekends. I had just finished telling her that this spot was pretty boring, as you could only see the cars for just long enough to read their numbers from where we were parked, and not much happened here. And right then here comes this car on fire. Not much fazes her, including this, as she has spent plenty of time at treetop level and high speed in helicopters with her feet dangling out of the door over South and Central America among other things. But for some reason she’d rather skip this.

  7. While you can try to prepare yourself with reading, videos and training nobody ever knows how they are going to react in an emergency situation. So far, I just get super calm and time seems to slow down a little, and everything has worked out ok. Will I panic some day? Haven’t yet. Don’t know. Hope not. Will you? Think trough scenarios and how to react. I have my fire extinguishers either lined up under the front bumper of my Unimog or stacked on the passenger floor at the door. If facing away, at the rear. With the rally 3 weeks away, I am gathering my equipment, batteries, masts, etc., testing the radios, coaxes and antennas. If I have time, will build a J-Pole. Most important, make sure your stuff works and connections are good. The little HTs are fine for cross band repeat, but in NEFR terrain, that’s about all. A good ground, mast of some sort or better, a “throw it up in the trees” J-Pole such as Tim uses really helps you receive well and have useful transmissions.

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