Release time : 2015-06-15 07:17:36
A transporter trailer fire, traced a failed wheel bearing, cost Team Penske its two primary Dallara-Honda Indy racing cars, spare parts inventory, race support and pit equipment and electronics, tools and myriad other specialty equipment such as a shock dyno and an advanced portable fabrication shop.
The transporter, out of Mooresville, North Carolina, was taking the team's two primary cars to Sonoma, California, for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway.
At 4:30am, on I80 between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the trailer's wheel bearings failed, overheated and caught fire. Fire quickly spread to the aluminum-bodied transporter which essentially melted and burned to the ground.
With no cell phone coverage in the area, the drivers were unable to summon help with sufficient fire-fighting capacity to deal with the blaze. They did, however, manage to disconnect the tractor unit from the burning transporter.
Penske's race transporters are widely agreed to be among the most advanced and best maintained on the road, employing active aerodynamics and tight fit and finish.
In all, Penske Racing estimates the loss at more than $2 million.
update: Team Penske scrambled extra cars and parts, salvaged what they could from the trailer in Wyoming, and went on to Infineon. In a backup car originally set up for ovals, Penske's Helio Castroneves took the pole and the race win.
Wheel bearing failure is suspected in another recent race transporter trailer fire. Wayne Taylor Racing's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series team transporter caught fire in Texas, destroying everything in it including the team's primary race ca