Tuning cars can be a dangerous business. When you push the mechanical limits of what piston engines can do, things get dicey. The gang from Complete Street Performance recently found out when a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered an explosion while on the dyno. As the video below shows, the car burst into flames, momentarily trapping CSP owner Andrew Zurick inside after the airbags deployed.
CSP was prepping the Camaro ZL1 for Camarofest and wanted it to be as powerful as absolutely possible. As they were testing the "TreeL1" on the dyno, they were pushing 829 horsepower right before it grenaded itself. The transmission is technically what exploded, which is the bang you hear in the video right before a pretty big fire breaks out underneath the car.
Making matters worse, as soon as the fire broke out, the curtain airbags deployed. It's unclear why the airbags deployed—maybe a sensor tripped from the fire or maybe the Camaro thought it had crashed from the jolt of the transmission exploding—delaying Zurick's exit from the car by a few vital seconds. The driver's side curtain airbag did give him a cut on his shoulder but he was mostly fine.
Once the fire was put out, the car was inspected and the crew noticed the pool of automatic transmission fluid below it. It appears the transmission's tail shaft housing cracked, which is what caused the big bang.
Zurick is right that this minor explosion was almost a good thing. Not because it happened but because it happened on the dyno and not on a race track or on the road. Since it was stationary and in a controlled environment, he was able to escape the car and the CSP team was able to put the fire out quickly.
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