Caught on camera: Racing wheel explodes inside Lawrence tire shop

LAWRENCE, Mass. — Something last weekend told Jose Batistine to get out his cellphone and hit record.

“My guardian angel said to me, ‘Jose, you better hide behind that metal box,’” Batistine said.

What Batistine recorded at J&C Express in Lawrence was a violent explosion that left his ears ringing and a worker with an injured hand.

“That was $1,000 dollars you saw blow-up right into the sky,” Batistine said.

The explosion, according to Batistine, was a failed attempt at tire stretching, a technique popular in auto racing that uses a flammable substance to create intense heat to force a tire onto a rim.

“That explosion, that reaction is going to force that wheel to be seated onto the grooves of the rim,” Batistine said.

The technique is dangerous but effective when done correctly. Batistine was eager Sunday to get his four racing tires onto custom rims for a 1994 Mazda Miata, but knew something was wrong while watching the J&C Express worker prep the wheel.

“I knew he went too heavy with the spray and I was like, ‘Wow, I really need to pull back.’ So I pulled back, and I was able to just grab that moment. It just happened so fast,” Batistine said.

The explosion created a large fireball, blasted the wheel straight into the air and set off nearby car alarms. No one was hurt, but Batistine said one of the workers suffered a minor hand injury.

“As soon as it exploded I literally felt the pressure. I jumped back, I turned around, I ran out of there, I was startled and my ears were ringing,” Batistine said.

Bastitine said the shop never offered to pay for the damage wheel. J&C Express told Boston 25 the manager was not there and they did not speak English. Batistine is just happy no one was seriously hurt.

“I’ve been building cars since I was 19 years old and I have 12 cars and I’ve never experienced anything like this in my entire life,” he said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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