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Oct 18, 2001

Josh Hayes On A Fireball Suzuki At Daytona This Weekend (Literally)

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Josh Hayes is riding a pair of Valvoline EMGO Suzuki racebikes at Daytona during this weekend's Formula USA/CCS Race Of Champions.<BR><BR>Hayes received an early release from his 2001 contract with American Honda, effective October 15. When Hayes left Valvoline EMGO Suzuki to sign with Honda at the end of 1999, he similarly was given an early contract release to allow him to test at Daytona with Erion Honda and Dunlop.<BR><BR>At Daytona this week, Hayes is testing Michelin DOT-labeled tires, in preparation for AMA races next December, with Michelin engineers in attendance.<BR><BR>Hayes' Formula USA GSX-R750 ignited into a fireball in a garage at Daytona Wednesday afternoon, when spilled gasoline was set off by an electrical spark.<BR><BR>The incident started as mechanic Barry McMahan rushed to refuel and get Hayes' bike out onto the track with a new set of test tires, and spilled some gasoline. The fuel ran onto the bike's tire warmers, and, fearing a fire, McMahan unplugged the warmers. Pulling the tire-warmer plugs out of a power strip connected to an extension cord caused a spark. The fireball of ignited fumes flash-burned McMahan and nearby Michelin representative Morgan Broadhead. McMahan suffered second-degree burns on one arm and Broadhead's eyebrows were singed.<BR><BR>The fire was quickly put out with fire extinguishers, which were nearby.<BR><BR>The incident raised concerns of Daytona International Speedway operations and fire-control officials, who planned to address the issue and stress caution during the riders' meeting this morning.