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Memorable Automobile Accidents: What Went Wrong, and Why?

When it comes to racing, accidents are expected. You cannot race at high speeds without some risk of injury and

Gilles Villenueve

Gilles Villenueve

death. Part of the risk is what makes the sport so exciting. However, when tragedy strikes, people are curious as to the why and how of the tragic accidents. Take a look at the five most memorable racing accidents and how they happened below:

Gilles Villenueve

Formula One

Gilles Villenueve was popular among Canadian Formula One viewers. He had a short career in the 1970s and won six races. In 1982, he was racing to qualify for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. He was driving along between 120 and 140 miles per hour around the track when he suddenly hit another car. He landed in the catch fence and died instantly.

Dale Earnhardt

Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the right

Dale Earnhardt

NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt was the darling of NASCAR racing and fans lament that the sport hasn’t been the same since his death. He won 76 races and seven championships. In 2001, Earnhardt was leading the Daytona 500 on the final lap. He rounded the corner and his rear fender suddenly came loose and dragged on the ground. This caused the car to turn and hit a wall. He was killed instantly on impact.

Aryton Senna

Formula One

Ayrton Senna is considered the greatest Formula One driver in history of the sport. He was a three-time champion and held the record from 1989 to 2006. In 1994, Ayrton Senna was leading in the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. His car suddenly left the track and slammed into the wall at around 130 miles per hour. The wheel housing slammed into the car and hit his helmet. This caused his skull to fracture, which killed him instantly.

adam petty

Adam Petty

Adam Petty

NASCAR

Adam Petty was set to be the darling of NASCAR, as he was the first fourth-generation racer to ever enter the sport. Adam Petty’s death was considered a tragedy because he not only crashed, but it wasn’t even in an official race. During practice in 2000, he was driving on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His throttle mysteriously jammed, which caused him to slam his tires into the wall at over 100 miles per hour. This killed him instantly.

Pierre Levegh

Le Mans

Pierre Levegh was one of the pioneers of sports car racing. He was a factory driver for Mercedes-Benz. In 1955,

Pierre Levegh

Pierre Levegh

he was racing in the Le Mans race and could not slow his progress to move around a slower vehicle. He hit the slower vehicle, which threw his vehicle into the air at 150 miles per hour. He hit a mound of dirt near the spectators of the race. This causes the fuel tank to explode, and the car erupted into flames, thanks, in part, to the large amount of magnesium in the vehicle. This explosion killed 83 people aside from Pierre Levegh and injured another 120. This is considered the worse racing accident in the history of the sport. 

Racing Tracks with the Most Fatalities

RankRacing Track# of accidents
1Indianapolis Motor Speedway57
2Nürburgring48
3Monza30
4Le Mans27
5Daytona International Speedway24

Conclusion

In racing, an accident can occur at any time. Some accidents are caused by faulty machinery, some are caused by poor driving, and others are caused by other’s poor driving. These memorable accidents help remind us that life is short and to enjoy every minute.

Nate Miller

Nate Miller

Nate Miller's main interests are Automobiles and Racing, with a recent focus on education and technology working with a company Autostoppeofaustin.com. He is constantly extending his fields of interest to incorporate news suggested to him by his readers.

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