Spectacular Fire At Angelica Raceway

Submitted by William A. Greene

Article from the Andover News

Friday August 14, 1963, a spectacular fire at the Angelica Raceway brought thousands of racing fans to their feet in Chilled fear when several cars in the backstretch collided exploding a 5 gallon can full of gas which sent roaring flames over a hundred feet up the race track into No. 2 turn.

Your News reporter (“Red” Allen) was taking pictures at that end of the track with “Dick” Wittie, Official Racetrack Photographer, at the other end of the track when the accident occurred.

“Dick” snapped 2 unusual pictures as he came running up from the other end of the track, while we headed over to see what could be done about putting the blaze out.

Two Angelica Firemen raced over with their fire extinguishers towards the spot where the large group of cars were located, while yours truly went over towards car No. 3.

About this time Ray Jordan, driver of the No. 2 bailed out of the right window of his car and slipped and fell into the mass of flames beside his car.  Then, in panic, he jumped up and raced in our direction with his clothes all ablaze.  After shouting at him twice to “Hit the dirt and start rolling”, he did that very thing and came to a stop at our feet where yours truly beat the rest of the remaining flames out with my hat.

In a brief interview with Ray Jordan after he had received first aid and was waiting for the ambulance to take him to Cuba Hospital, he told us that “it was running thru his mind that he shouldn’t be running, but that all he could seem to do was get over to us for help”.  He said that when hearing the shouted advice he merely followed directions, and in doing so put out the largest part of his flaming clothes.  We feel that he may very well owe his life to his quick response to the shouted orders and the fact that he had heavy coveralls on over other clothes.

According to a report given us Sunday at the Perry Raceway, Ray will be able to be released from the Cuba Hospital in a week to ten days.

The accident happened in the first lap of the feature race for the “Modern Stock” cars and only one car had to be towed from the track.  No.33, driven by “Dick” Flaig, although badly scorched by the flames, was able to continue in the race and finished in the money, while several of the other cars involved were unable to continue.

Editor’s Note:  Since no one was hurt seriously and much publicity was given the occurrence, we felt it our obligation to our readers to report the story as we saw it.  We felt it was thru the exemplary action of the Firemen in attendance as well as the drivers and Race Track Officials, that nothing serious evolved from the accident, so it shouldn’t be harmful to the sport, itself, for after all it is part of the danger involved in auto racing.