LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 5 - TRV Motorsport's hopes for a podium finish in Sunday's United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course went up in smoke - literally - Saturday afternoon around 3 p.m., just minutes before qualifying was to begin.
Team owner Tom Volk of Blissfield, Mich., was behind the wheel of the Supreme Exhaust System Products/Purity Farms Riley & Scott Chevy No. 95 when it erupted in flames and burned. He escaped with only minor facial burns but the car suffered extensive damage and will not be ready for Volk and co-driver Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., to drive in Sunday afternoon's race. Coverage of the accident will probably be included on Speedvision's broadcast of the race Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The fire occurred during a practice session that preceded qualifying. Volk had just turned his fastest lap of that session and was seventh fastest at the time. The team was fifth-fastest with Schroeder behind the wheel in practice earlier in the day.
"I was going to come in that lap anyway and get out of the car so that Jeret could qualify it for us, and as I was going into the keyhole the car just died," Volk said. "I coasted up the straightaway and pulled off course. I tried to restart it, and then it just erupted into flames. Probably a fuel line broke, but what exactly happened I don't know and we may never know. We're out of this race for sure.
"I got a few burns on my face, but that's it," Volk added. "I was lucky to get out. That's about as nasty as it gets. It even melted my tear-offs."
The incident occurred in a part of the course that wasn't easy for the rescue trucks to reach and cars were still on the track when the fire broke out, so the fire burned for several minutes before it was extinguished.
Through it all, Volk kept his sense of humor. In response to a crewmember who noted, "Somebody was watching out for you today," Volk quipped, "Yeah! My banker! I owe too much money!"
Team manager Mike Madden and crew were busy cleaning up the car and assessing the damage as soon as the car was towed back to the transporter. It's unknown at this point if this car will be repaired in time for the next race the team planned to do, which is an American LeMans Series race at Sears Point in Sonoma, Calif., on July 25. The team still has the Chevy Kudzu that it campaigned last year, and it may use that car at Sears Point.
"The important thing is that Tom is OK," said Schroeder, who finished 15th last Sunday in the Indy 500. "Unless I can find another ride here, I guess I'll go back to Jersey earlier than I'd planned."