Longtime big-show and nostalgia nitro Funny Car racer John Lawson suffered the loss of his racing operation in a devastating blaze at his Joliet, Illinois home on Monday night.
According to a local report from Patch, a total of nine vehicles, including three race cars, were destroyed in the fire that consumed the large structure situated directly adjacent to Lawson’s home.
Joliet firefighters were called to a storage facility for John Lawson’s Auto Rebuilders in the 700 block of Algonquin St. around 7:45 p.m. and remained on the scene for more than 12 hours following what was a fully-involved blaze — at one point more than Joliet 40 firefighters were present. The Joliet Fire Department successfully contained the fire to the storage facility, in spite of its close proximity to both Lawson’s home and the neighbors garage, a mere 3-feet away.
While fighting the blaze, Lawson alerted fire personnel to the 300-gallons of nitromethane stored in drums inside the facility, which were kept cool to prevent them from exploding.
“The owner made us aware that there were trailers and a lot of stuff inside that garage. The first responders weren’t even sure what building was on fire because there was so much smoke,” Joliet Fire Chief Greg Blaskey told Patch.
As images posted online by Lawson indicate, his entire racing operation was lost in the fire — his toter-home and trailer, Funny Car bodies and chassis, parts, and personal vehicles. Lawson’s place of business is located less than a 1/4 of a mile away.
“There were no injuries from any citizens,” Blaskey said. “That building was 50 feet by 100 feet. We had to do a defensive attack. This fire had a big head start on us.”
Lawson campaigns a late model Pontiac Firebird flopper with a single mag and fuel pump alongside his similarly-prepared 1970 Camaro flopper, with Joe Haas driving, at exhibition events around the Midwest. A message left with Lawson’s PR contact for comment was not returned.