Man Critically Injured When Race Car Explodes

A Selma man was critically injured when his race car exploded.  The 52 year-old victim is now hospitalized in the Burn Center at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.

The incident happened around 6:00PM Saturday at 910 River Run Road.  Ashley Martin (Mark) Byrd had been working on his race car, a 1989 Ford Mustang, preparing it for an upcoming event.

Byrd drove the race car into an enclosed trailer and while doing so noticed a gas leak under the car.  As Byrd attempted to restart the race car and back it out of the trailer a fire ignited.  Officials said Byrd climbed from the burning car and ran through flames to escape from the enclosed trailer. While doing so he was burned over 65 percent of his body.

The fire quickly spread to a nearby van and house before it was extinguished by crews from the Micro, Kenly and Pine Level Fire Departments.

Byrd was airlifted to the Burn Center by a Life Flight helicopter. A second person was also injured and transported by ambulance to the Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

The Johnston County Fire Marshal ruled the fire as accidental due to an “unspecified mechanical failure.”