NASCAR drivers or racers have their own stories to tell of how they have fought and escaped death, how they have survived and how they have won their race. Though they knew that accidents will always be a part of their life, they never give any second thought about the dangerous and exciting game.
The risks and the dangers are like spices that have made their career or profession more exciting. Surviving the accidents is like medals or prized trophies that they have earned and have made them a much better driver. It has made them more determined and eager to win the race.
All of these frightening scenes have not discouraged the drivers from what they are doing. They become more determined to prove that they are much, much better than their opponents. They become more challenged seeing the crowds gasp in horror and fear as they run their race.
They become more inspired as they see their fans shout, clap and cheer, giving their favorites moral support and inspiration. The death-defying stunts displayed by these brave drivers are worth seeing.
NASCAR Drivers And The Death Defying Races
NASCAR drivers will always have a run for their lives as they bravely and determinedly raced against their opponents on the track.
This event is a combination of fun and thrill which the drivers and the crowd, especially the NASCAR fans felt as they eagerly watched different cars soaring high, crashing and hitting each other; cars hitting the walls, and what could be worse, seeing cars on fire amidst the smoke and dust around the race track and seeing their favorites wounded, injured but alive.
Though some of these racers have lost their lives during the race, NASCAR’s die-hard fans never stop cheering and supporting the most exciting and dangerous race.
Many tragic things have happened on the race track. Some of these have claimed the lives of these brave racers or drivers. Some have been fortunate to survive but remain helpless after the tragic incident. There are also those who have survived and are still on the race track.
Though there are already many terrifying accidents that happened on the track, NASCAR diehards never lost their interest in watching the exciting race. There have been many crash incidents recorded that NASCAR fans will never forget.
Some of these 15 unforgettable NASCAR crash incidents that have been recorded are:
1. Ricky Rudd – Daytona (1984)
Ricky L. Rudd, who is also known as “The Rooster” has his own story to tell when he survived the car accident during the 1984 race. After coming out of turn 4, Rudd lost control of his car after he was bumped from the rear.
The impact sent Rudd’s car off the track and back into the infield. His car smashed and slammed the concrete retaining wall which has caused great damage to his car.
Seeing the car completely smashed has made the crowd believe that Rudd’s career is finally over, but to the relief of the crowd, especially to Ricky Rudd’s fans, he suddenly came out with a blow on his head and swollen eyes. Rudd survived that fatal accident and still continues driving and racing.
2. Richard Petty – Coca Cola 500, Pocono (1980)
Richard Petty, who is also known as “The King of NASCAR” is another lucky survivor of the race track, particularly the Pocono race track. Pocono has a tri-oval track which has been the cause of many tragic accidents for many racers due to its twists and turns.
During the 1980 Coca Cola 500 race, Richard Petty had this terrifying accident that many people thought has claimed his life. Everybody never expected that Petty would have survived the tragedy.
It was disclosed that after driving through the horrifying “Tunnel Turn” at Pocono, Petty’s car lost one of its tires. It has sent him up, fearfully smashing the wall. Some of the drivers were able to avoid him. However, out of the blue, amidst the smoke, Petty’s car was hit on the driver’s side which has caused great damage to Petty.
Richard Petty suffered many injuries and multiple wounds, including a broken neck. After the terrifying accident, Petty still manages to get back to the race track to the delight of his loyal fans.
3. Michael Waltrip – Bristol Motor Speedway (1990)
Michael Waltrip believed that he survived the fatal crash at Bristol Motor Speedway because of a “miracle”. People who saw what happened have already thought that Waltrip was already dead, but contrary to what these people thought, Waltrip survived the fatal accident. Indeed, a miracle still happens!
During the race, Waltrip was trying to overtake Robert Pressley. He was on lap 170 of the Budweiser 250 Grand National Race when their cars slightly bumped each other. Unexpectedly, in just a wink of an eye, the impact has sent Waltrip over speeding, exceeding the 115 mph speed, heading towards the steel gate.
The steel gate gave way because of the crash and has sent Waltrip to the concrete barrier. Waltrip’s car was torn to pieces, but Waltrip emerged from the shredded car still alive and unharmed. The event which shook the fans turned out to be not as bad.
4. Lee Petty – Daytona International Speedway (1961)
It was in 1961 at the Daytona International Speedway when Lee Petty, the father of Richard Petty, has said goodbye to his racing career.
Daytona International Speedway then has the two qualifying races which are used to determine the order for the Daytona showdown. Banjo Matthews was in the lead when he suddenly spun out.
This has gravely affected the performance of the other racers who were following him. Johnny Beauchamp intensely smashed the back of Petty’s car and sent the two cars up the track. That incident started the chain reaction.
While protective barriers lined the raceways today, there was only a simple guardrail made of metal that lined the track back then. The two cars hit the guardrail and with greater speed, the two cars went directly through it. What happened next was really very horrifying because the two cars were both seen off the track.
The two cars were all smashed and destroyed, displaying twisted metals, but surprisingly, the two drivers have survived the accident. This fatal accident has put Petty in a coma for four days.
Fortunately, Petty survived multiple, crucial injuries which include a punctured lung, a crushed chest, distorted legs, and collarbone. Lee Petty spent 4 months in the hospital, where he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation from the injuries he has suffered.
5. Steve Park – Atlanta Motor Speedway (1998)
Steve Park, is another NASCAR driver/racer who has placed his life in grave danger when he met an accident at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was during the practice session for the Primestar 500 when Park experienced the accident that almost destroyed his career.
While he was driving at full speed, Park’s car tire burst. The explosion sends him to the wall. After hitting the wall, he was sent back down the track. He hit the wall twice before the car was turned around and sent directly to the infield where it slammed the pit road wall.
After all the hitting and slamming, Park’s car finally stopped in the infield, leaving Park in a very serious condition. Park suffered a broken clavicle and scapula, two broken teeth in front, and a broken femur which has to be operated.
6. Rusty Wallace – Daytona (1993)
It was in 1993 in Daytona, when Rusty Wallace was traveling at 200 mph speed, with a very slim margin for error and tragedy, when the fatal accident happened.
During that time, Wallace was suddenly hit from the rear by two cars that were scrambled and were about to spin. The sudden bump has lifted the car and has sent Wallace sideways. The air under his car has sent the car into the air and has sent him struggling and flipping down the track.
Wallace’s car was a total wreck. It was totally damaged, but in spite of what happened, Wallace has not sustained any major injuries. The whole incident has not made him put an end to his career; instead, it has sent him back to the race track. This is all to the fans’ relief, of course.
7. Ricky Rudd – Atlanta (1990)
After the 1984 incident, 6 years after, when Ricky Rudd almost lost his life, Rudd has encountered another terrifying and death-defying accident that has claimed the life of Bill Elliot’s crewman.
It was during a race in Atlanta when everybody was busy doing their own tasks at the pit stop. Without any warning, Ricky Rudd’s lost control of his car and hit Bill Elliot’s car. Unfortunately, Elliot’s crewman was replacing a new tire on Elliot’s car at the right-rear portion.
He was busy then that he did not notice Rudd’s car approaching. Rudd’s car smashed Elliot’s car. The impact was so intense that it killed Bill Elliot’s Crewman right on the spot. It was all a sudden that no one saw it coming.
8. Ryan Newman – Daytona 500 (2003)
Ryan Newman, NASCAR Rookie of the Year, joined the 2003 season with a very promising career. However, his flourishing career went down when he was one of the victims of a very tragic accident that has almost claimed his life.
During the Daytona 500, in 2003, Newman’s car was dragged to the wall by Ken Schrader’s car. The two cars smashed the wall and slid down towards the infield. Newman’s car was sent flying before turning sideways and tossing many times before finally stopping (upside down) to settle on its roof.
The car was totally wrecked. It was completely smashed that nobody could possibly survive. Those who have witnessed what really happened would never believe that Newman would get out of the car, alive.
During the awful silence when people try to recover what could still be recovered in the crash, everybody thought that Newman is already dead. It was indeed very surprised when they found out that Newman has survived the ordeal without suffering from any major injuries.
9. Kyle Larson – Daytona (2013)
Kyle Larson was speeding up during the final laps held at Daytona in 2013. Unexpectedly, another car bumped his car at the rear portion which made him lose control and has sent his car into the catch fence around the track. The heavy impact has torn his car to pieces. His car engine landed on the grandstand.
Fortunately, nobody was hit by the engine block, but the scattered debris has caused grave injury to the crowd. Larson’s car, which was already in pieces, was burned when it has already stopped moving. He survived the incident, however, and is still competing in several major races until now.
10. Geoff Bodine – NASCAR’s Inaugural Craftsman Truck Series, Daytona (2000)
The NASCAR’s inaugural Craftsman Truck Series race, which was held in Daytona last 2000 has made another record of road mishap on the race track.
This time, Geoff Bodine was involved in the accident which has left several drivers and fans suffering from different injuries and multiple wounds brought about by the accident. Bodine was bumped from the rear. The impact was so heavy and intense that the car smashed the wall located at the start and finish line.
Bodine’s truck was slammed by other trucks as it turned sideways. The crash has done great damage to the car, causing the car to explode and burn. The crash was so powerful that it has disconnected the engine block of Bodine’s truck.
The engine block landed on the infield. Clouds of smoke covered the whole place. When the place was finally cleared, Bodine was left along with the other seriously injured and wounded people, including drivers and spectators.
11. Clint Bowyer – Daytona (2014)
The fight to get into the perfect position during the actual race is very intense because of NASCAR’s knockout format. This was first learned by Clint Bowyer last year at Daytona.
Amidst the race for the checkered flag, Jimmie Johnson discovered that he has no more gas to keep him running the race. What happened then has caused a considerable number of cars to pile up and be in chaos. Johnson was heavily slammed from behind while Michael Waltrip was smashed into the wall.
On the other hand, Martin Truex’s car was burned because it was totally damaged. What has caught the attention of the crowd was Bowyer’s car which has gone airborne, tossing a number of times and making a 360-degree turn on air before finally descending to the ground with wheels in a downward position.
All the drivers who were involved in the accident were safe. Since their cars were all smashed and destroyed, and that “the show must go on”, their only option is to use alternate cars to be able to get back to the actual race.
12. Bobby Allison – Talladega (1987)
What happened to Bobby Allison 30 years ago was an eye-opener to NASCAR. After that terrifying incident, NASCAR implemented the use of restrictor-plates for security measures. It can be recalled that the tragic accident happened before NASCAR has implemented this safety measure.
It was only then that NASCAR has known the possible dangers in allowing the cars to go at full speed and the importance of setting up the restrictor plates on the speedways to regulate the speed of all the vehicles.
During that race at Talladega, 30 years ago, Allison was overspeeding at 200 mph on lap 22. What happens next is history after the right rear tire of Allison’s car exploded.
The explosion has made Allison spin and travels back down the track, still at 200 mph speed. The air under the rear end of the car has lifted the car, tossed it against the protective fence. The fence serves as a barrier to keep the cars at a distance from the spectators.
Fortunately, the car did not reach the catch-fence, but by the time it reached the track, Allison’s car was smashed by other cars. Everything was in chaos, many fans were injured and badly wounded, but Allison emerged unharmed and very much alive.
13. Glenn “Fireball” Roberts – World 600, Charlotte (1964)
During the 50’s, Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was considered as one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. His popularity reached its momentum in 1957, onwards, until he was involved in a fatal car accident in 1964. After his death, his fans and supporters never forget him. He still lives on in the hearts and minds of his loyal fans.
Robert’s was racing at the World 600. It was during the 7th lap when something terrifying came up. Robert was trying his best to avoid a damaged car in front of the road. With a powerful turn, Robert lost his control and ended up crashing the retaining wall backward.
His car turned, rolled and exploded. The fuel that leaks from the tank has caused intense heat and fire has caused the car to explode. When they pulled out Roberts, they found out that Roberts has already more than 80% burns all over his whole body.
Glenn “Fireball” Roberts has made a good fight for his dear life for 6 weeks. When he already seemed alright and will soon recover, Roberts contracted pneumonia. He was comatose and on July 2, 1964, Roberts has finally left his fans and supporters. He died with pneumonia after surviving the World 600 event.
14. Carlos Pardo – NASCAR Corona Series, Puebla (2009)
Carlos Pardo, a veteran member of the NASCAR Mexico Series, was a 9-time winner of the NASCAR Corona series. He would have won his 10th award when he met a fatal accident happened that took his life.
During the NASCAR Corona Series held in Puebla last 2009, Carlos Pardo skillfully drives his car for his 10th award. There were only 3 laps remaining during that race at Puebla when Carlos Pardo’s car was slammed from behind.
He was traveling at a great speed of more than 120 mph when that tragic incident happened. Pardo’s car spun fast and slammed the wall at the entrance of the pit road. Because of the great speed, the impact was so strong that Pardo’scar was disintegrated and torn to pieces.
He was airlifted to the nearest hospital by a helicopter, but after several minutes, Carlos Pardo lost his life, leaving behind a very promising career. He was then proclaimed the post-mortem winner of the NASCAR Corona Series in 2009.
15. Dale Earnhardt – Daytona (2001)
Dale Earnhardt, who is also known as “The Intimidator”, was considered NASCAR’s most popular driver. He was very aggressive and determined. He has his own style of driving, which has gained the admiration and approval of his diehard fans even up to this day.
Earnhardt’s career ended when he met a tragic accident during the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. During the race, Earnhardt was trying to block the other racers to stop them from catching his son who was driving the best race of his life to win it.
Unfortunately, Sterling Marlin slammed Earnhardt’s rear bumper at the driver’s side seat. The impact was heavy and has sent Earnhardt up the track and to the wall. The incident seemed less serious compared to those that were listed or recorded in NASCAR’s history. But to everybody’s surprise, the incident has claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt and few have never recovered until now.
These are just some of the most tragic and terrifying car accidents ever recorded. However, there are still many more car crashes that have claimed the lives of many racers and have left some racers disabled.
What is amazing here is that in spite of all the terrifying car crashes, NASCAR drivers and racers have become more inspired and more determined to make their driving skills better.
Many drivers will soon join the NASCAR group with the hope of bringing with them the “pot of gold” for every win they have made. These skilled drivers have their own skills to give to make them stand out and become a member of the popular NASCAR group.
What happens on the race track never stops when something tragic happened during the race. No matter how tragic and depressing each event, NASCAR will always give the race enthusiasts something that they will always look forward to.