Fire has been a dreaded part of auto racing from Day One. As with most things, there are particular examples of this that stand out
in history and in the memories of racing people - perhaps because someone really prominent was involved or simply because more photos were taken of that event than others like it. I will certainly show what is perhaps the Northeast's most infamous racing fire, the Rene Charland "French Barbeque" fire; but, I will also show as many other stock car racing fires as I can find in my 53 images files. It's nothing glorious - just a part of racing that can't be ignored.

          Leave it to Rene Charland to make a joke about the fire that nearly ended not only his career, but his life. He wrecked at Albany - Saratoga Speedway, a home track of sorts, and the familiar white #3 burst into flames. Were it not for diminutive Ed Flemke, who rushed in and pulled him out, the then - four - time NASCAR National Sportsman champion would likely have died. The accident left him burned enough to stall an otherwise successful drive for a fifth championship. Poetically, Charland's first win after the fire was also at  Albany - Saratoga Speedway.

John Grady Photo via Dave Dykes
The car is fully engulfed here. 

Source Unknown Likely a Grady Photo
A rare color shot, probably with
no flash. 

Source Unknown Likely a Grady Photo
Another color shot. 

Courtesy of M. P. Roy
In this familiar shot of the fire,
the coupe is pretty well shot
by this point. 

Courtesy of J. Canfield
Charland is down, on the track , behind the fire as Flemke looks on. 
Courtesy of Ron Coonradt
Another shot of the same fire.

Courtesy of Ron Site
Another shot that shows how close Flemke ended up to the fire with his Cent Sign car [black]. 

Courtesy of Ron Wilson
Another Charland fire - this time
at Thompson. One prominent driver said Rene told him he could store gas in his roll cage. Might expalin the combustiblility of his cars.

Courtesy of Robert Clock
The aftermath.



Courtesy of Midstate Club
Thought to be the Bill Wimble fire:
Salt City race, 1964. 

Courtesy of James Osterhoudt
Another shot of what is said to be the Bill Wimble fire. It looks like the same situation [on  the guard rail].  

8MM Capture,  Likely From
a Dan Ody Film
Another shot that is siad to be
the Wimble fire.

Frank Simek Photo
Courtesy of Fred DeCarr Collection
Another shot of another fire. That
might be Ken Meahl's 28 nearby.
Bob Bruno Collection
Courtesy of John Rock
The remains of Bob Bruno's Vic Wolfe - owned 66 after it was left on the track at Syracuse and subsequently struck. 

 Source Unknown
Bill Slater's 1964 fire at Trenton. 

Source Unknown
The disastrous "big fire" at the first
Langhorne Mod/spt stock car race.
Courtesy of Otto Graham
Jerry Cook's pit fire at Langhorne. 
Courtesy of Dirt Track Digest
Jerry Cook's pit fire at Langhorne.
Further engulfed.

Courtesy of Philly Fun
More of the disastrous "big fire" at the first Langhorne Mod/spt stock car race. 

Courtesy of Jalopy Journal
An Ed Flemke fire - track not known. 
Courtesy of
All I know is it's Langhorne,
and it's a sportsman coupe.
Lew Boyd Collection
A car burns on the backstretch at Syracuse as early runners such as Red Fotte [J2] wait on frontstretch. 


                  The track in Naples, NY was strictly a 1950's flash - in - the - pan place, but it can boast of being the starting off point for the great career of Dutch Hoag. The track had one wicked fire involving multiple jalopies around 1952.

Courtesy of NYMM
Bill Rogers' 192 and Hap Brown's
C22 are involved here.

Courtesy of Dean Wright
A track worker looks on helplessly
as car 12 lights up. 

Courtesy of Dean Wright
The fire takes its own course.  

Courtesy of Dean Wright
Wreckers begin removing burnt

Courtesy of Dean Wright
A driver looks on helplessly
as his car 19 lights up. 
Courtesy of Dean Wright
Car 2 sits in relative safety in the infield as many others are
destroyed on the track. 


Bob Mackey Photo
Couurtesy of Ardyce Blohm
Canadian Pierre LaFrance lights up
the Airborne Park Speedway in
the earlier 1960's.

Bob Mackey Photo
Couurtesy of Ardyce Blohm
More Pierre LaFrance fire. 

Courtesy of Cho Lee
The local fire truck mosewys in and
cars wait to line up as Wayne Chandler's #3Sr. Hudson catches
fire at Otter Creek Speedway in Waltham, VT in 1961. [He's
2nd from left]

Courtesy of Cho Lee
The beautiful sportsman cooupe of Canadian Ray Forte burne to the ground at Catamount in the mid
1960's. Catamount stars Beaver and Bob Dragon [both firemen] stand
at far left in driver suits.

 Couldn't Make Out the Credit
 A particularly bad looking fire
in the Eddie Tysko car.

 Gater Photo by Ron DeYullo
The Joe Lawrence Mustang [seemingly often given to disaster] lights up after a wreck.

Gater Photo by Ron DeYullo
The Joe Lawrence Mustangs 622 and another
car involved at Claremont Speedway.

Claremont Daily Eagle Photo
via Ernie Bodreau
Roger Ranade's car in an early
Claremont jalopy fire.

 Lew Boyd Collection
Likely Russ Bergh Photo
Ken Shoemaker's recently - built
Chris Drellos - owned 111 burns during a pit stop in a Fonda Long distance race for which he had
qualified fastest.
 Kinda Looks Like a Simek Photo eh ?
Ken Shoemaker's fire from another angle. 
Courtesy of Ken Gypson
This burning JO car may well
have been some sort of demo
derby car  for Ollie Palmer.
Lew Boyd Collection
Likely Russ Bergh Photo
The infamous Fake/Bellinger wreck
at Fonda. Fake's car on fire.
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fonda safety personnel have the
Dick Bennett 71 [driver UNK] under control.
 Courtesy of Neal Davis
The famiiar 901 of Jean Guy Chartand fires up somewhere in
  Cavalcade of Auto Racing Photo
The supermod of Reino Tulonen
erupts in flame somewhere at a
New England track.
Courtesy of John Rock
A driver watches as his Airborne Park Speedway car burns to the ground.


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