PJ Jacobsen is ready to return to action during next weekend’s MotoAmerica event at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta after surviving every racer’s nightmare – a fire while at speed, which resulted in the New Yorker being badly burned.
It was the morning of June 28 at Road America. Jacobsen took his Celtic HSBK Racing Ducati Panigale V4 R out in the morning warm-up ahead of his Stock 1000 and Superbike Cup races. Then as Jacobsen was roaring down the straightaway between the chicane and Canada Corner on his out lap, disaster struck.
“I was in four or fifth gear and all of a sudden it looked like my hands were in a pizza oven,” Jacobsen exclusively told Roadracingworld.com. “I had to figure out a game plan to get off the bike as quickly as I could because it was getting pretty hot. I was trying to grab the brake a little bit to try and slow down, but it seemed like the fire was getting worse. So, I decided to just jump off the bike.
“Then I ran over to the guy with the fire extinguisher because it felt like I was still burning because it was super hot. The guy blasted it in my face and then I couldn’t really breathe because I had a burning sensation in my lungs from the chemicals in the fire extinguisher. That was my biggest thing, that and my burns were burning. So, I was not in a good condition to race.”
After getting help with his breathing at the track, Jacobsen was taken to a local hospital to have the burns on his arms evaluated. Wound specialists felt the burns would heal naturally over time, and Jacobsen was driven back to his home in New York, where he has been recovering ever since.
“I’ve never been burnt that bad in my life. It’s definitely not something I would recommend,” said Jacobsen. “My burns were pretty close to third degree, but I’ve always healed pretty fast for some reason. So, they’ve healed quite good.
“I think I’m pretty much good to go. I’m not fully healed, but I feel like I can ride and race at 100%. It shouldn’t be an issue.”
Asked if he knew what caused the fire on his Ducati, Jacobsen said, “They’re [team] still supposed to let me know at Road Atlanta, because I know they’ve been checking it out to have a definite answer.
“I have Scott Jensen as my Crew Chief and Chase [McFarland] as my mechanic. In motorcycle racing you have to have a lot of trust in your crew, and I have a lot of trust in those guys. If it was a mistake or a part failure I have a lot of confidence it won’t happen again.”