NASCAR Chevy SS Pace Car on Fire
Patrick Rall's picture

Auxiliary Lighting System Could Have Caused NASCAR Chevrolet SS Pace Car Fire

This past weekend, the 2014 Chevrolet SS Daytona 500 Pace Car being driven by former NASCAR driver Brett Bodine as one of the primer races ahead of the big race exploded into flames while lapping the track – a problem which General Motors believes was caused by the auxiliary electrical system that is necessary for the pace car duties.
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The 2014 Chevrolet SS is a pretty important car for General Motors and that fact is illustrated by the fact that it was chosen to be the Official Pace Car for the 2013 Daytona 500. General Motors could have very easily featured the 2014 Camaro or the new Corvette Stingray as the Daytona Pace Car last year, but instead the company opted to go with the new Chevy SS performance sedan. This car is important enough that the automaker has actually referred to it as a 4 door Corvette…and being so closely connected to one of the most respected performance cars in American automotive history is a serious claim. The Daytona 500 is one of the most watches sporting events in the USA so a great many people saw the new SS performance sedan all duded up for pace car duties last February and the odds are good that a great many people were watching the Daytona 500 prep event this weekend when the 2014 Chevrolet SS Pace Car burst into flames while leading the track around the field.

NASCAR pace car driver Brett Bodine was driving the 2014 Chevrolet SS Pace Car, leading the field during the Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona International Speedway on the 55th lap of the short event. As Bodine came out of turn 2, smoke filled the cabin of the Chevy pace car and although Bodine hurried to try to reach pit road – he was forced to pull into the bob-racing lane of the track. Both Bodine and his passenger got out of the car safely, but when the car came to a rest it quickly burst into flames.

The video below shows the action from Fox Sports and you can clearly see that as the SS slowed down on the birm of the track, the flames got much worse. Fortunately the NASCAR safety team was there in a hurry to help put out the fire and keep it from spreading through the car, but NASCAR was still forced to turn to their backup pace car for the rest of the event.

There is a more in-depth investigation being conducted but General Motors believes that the 2014 Chevrolet SS Pace Car fire started with the auxiliary electrical system installed in the trunk – and I am inclined to agree that this aftermarket wiring setup is the most likely cause of the fire. Chevrolet has done extensive testing with the Chevrolet SS ahead of it being sold in the US while also being sold for years in other countries as the Holden Commodore VF.

I have not heard of any rear end fire troubles in testing or with the Holden models so this would seem to be an isolated incident to this specific high performance Chevy sedan. While it could have been a variety of things which caused this fire, the fact that this particular car featured a powerful aftermarket electrical setup in the trunk for the pace car lighting system would lead me to believe that it would at least be the first thing to check when looking into the cause of this embarrassing fire.

Considering how important the 2014 Chevrolet SS is for GM and what a black eye this could be for the new performance sedan – I would fully expect the automaker to announce the exact cause in the near future. My safe money is on the wiring system for the pace car lights.

Image above captured from the Fox Sports video embedded here.


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