Nitrous oxide mishaps are often dramatic, but the impact of damage can range from catastrophic to relatively minor. In a YouTube clip from 2008 the driver of a C6 Corvette experiences what happens when nitrous goes wrong. According to the information provided by the videographer, this event took place at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey.
Everything appears completely normal as the Corvette pulls to the starting line after a short spin of the tires to clean off the debris. As the driver launches the ‘Vette everything still appears normal, but around the 60ft mark things just go wrong. Either a nitrous backfire or other calamity causes the hood to open from the force of the explosion, sending a large fireball upwards. A second later the hood flops back down as the flames continue to erupt from underneath.
The driver exits the vehicle and hurries away from the now-flaming Corvette; seconds later a track official approaches, fire extinguisher in hand and begins to douse the flames. Dragstrip safety crews are prepared to handle incidents like this one; however there are certain fundamental safety items that should be used on a vehicle equipped with nitrous oxide, such as a properly mounted fire extinguisher. It may not be mandatory, but anything that can help minimize the damage is a cheap insurance policy. Finally, the driver needs to wear an SFI approved jacket when using nitrous oxide or any non-factory supercharger or turbocharger; obviously the driver neglected to mention that he was using nitrous to the tech inspector. It is doubtful that the factory warranty or auto insurance company covered the damage to probably still-financed Corvette.