Tank on EmptyTank on Empty

Dangerous Place To Be Running On E!

December 13, 2007 about Mazda RX-8

My only experience in flirting with the limits of the fuel light on my RX-8 happened on a race track. Let me tell you - BAD idea.

It was the final session of a track day at Pocono Raceway in PA. I started the 20 minute session with a bit over a quarter tank of gas. Near the end of the session, the fuel light comes on right past the start/finish line. I figured that at 7mpg (while racing) and around 2 gallons left on the tank, I could do another 2 laps and still be pretty safe. I think the laps were a little over two miles.

Well, I was wrong, I didn't even finish that lap under power. The last turn of that track is a long, high-banked right-hander (we ran on 2 turns of the oval and some infield in the opposite direction of the NASCAR races). As soon as I came out of the corner and start heading down the straight, BAM the engine cuts out. When your engine cuts at a little over 100mph, it feels like someone hit the the brakes for you!

Normally, that wouldn't be too bad, but I was being closely followed by two 500 horsepower Corvettes that were gaining really fast. I put the clutch in and stuck my hand out the window in a balled fist to indicate I was slowing. At those speeds though, it was little help to the poor 'vette drivers who weren't expecting me to slow that suddenly. The had to swerve HARD to get around and avoid a triple-digit speed crash.

The engine started up again and I was able to sputter back into pit lane without getting in the way of any more cars. I learned my lesson though, the gas light deserves serious respect on the racetrack!

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