NASCAR racing is an exciting sport, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. Over the years, there have been some notorious crashes, some in which parties thankfully walked away unharmed, and some in which the results were as tragic as they come. Taking a look at some of the NASCAR races that changed history can help us see where we came from, and where we are headed in the future.
Michael McDowell was involved in a NASCAR crash in 2008, when participating in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in April of that year. McDowell crashed his vehicle, a Toyota Camry, into a barrier wall right when he was about to make turn one. The track walls, called SAFER, were new and no crash had thus tested the safety of the new implementation. Fortunately, McDowell was relatively unharmed, thanks to the new safety walls. It was the first proof that the new safety walls were an improvement, and the best proof at that time that McDowell’s vehicle, hailed as a Car of Tomorrow, was up to snuff.
The story of the 1990 Ricky Rudd crash has a tragic ending. Rudd was finishing up the season in Atlanta, coming in for a typical pit stop. Mike Ritch, a member of the pit crew, was changing the tire of racer Bill Elliott, when Rudd’s vehicle lost control. Ritch was pinned between both racers’ cars, and died instantly. Afterward, NASCAR put into place speed limits when coming in for a pit stop.
Richard Petty’s 1970 crash in the 1970 Rebel 400 went down in history as one of the most miraculous walkaway stories in racing history. Petty’s Plymouth Road Runner hit the inside retaining wall on the track, rolling several times as the car was ripped to pieces. Petty walked away unharmed, but as a result, NASCAR soon implemented window nets as well as extra reinforcements to the structure of the body of the vehicles.
Fireball Roberts was incredibly popular in the 1950’s and 60’s. Roberts was in his seventh lap of the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1964, when he was part of an awful crash. His Ford rammed into the side of a retaining wall, going backward, rolled once, and then was engulfed in fire. Roberts was badly burned, but still alive. He spent six weeks in the hospital before passing away from his injuries. After his death, high quality fire retardant racing suits became mandatory throughout NASCAR.
Daytona International Speedway 1960
In 1960, NASCAR saw its largest crash numbers wise. It was 1960, and 68 vehicles were out on a Sportsman race at Daytona International Speedway. Of those 68, 37 were part of a pile up that accounts for a NASCAR record of cars involved in a single crash. Fortunately, the drivers were all relatively safe.
In 1987, Bobby Allison was taking part in the Winston 500, which was hosted at Alabama’s famous Talladega Superspeedway. During his 22nd lap, Allison’s Buick LeSabre began spinning rapidly after a rear tire blew out. At the time, Allison was going 200 miles per hour, and now he was going backward at that. The car flew over a retaining wall and landed, and thankfully Allison was unharmed. After this, NASCAR required restrictor plates when racing at Talladega as well as Daytona, to cut down on the super speeds.
You can’t talk about NASCAR crashes without talking about Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt was in the middle of his final lap in the Daytona 500 in 2001, when racing lost one of its most reverend sportsmen. Earnhardt’s death that day resulted in many changes for safety precaution, including the addition of a head and neck support device and SAFER barriers, and the creation of the Car of Tomorrow was pursued with passion.
Safety regulations didn’t happen overnight at NASCAR. Sometimes, they were the result of painful lessons. Some of these crashes served as good guides in moving ahead, so that the sport became more reliable, efficient and secure for the racers that get behind the wheel. Ultimately, they are out there for the love of the game and for our own entertainment, and they deserve to feel safe when taking to the road.
Sebastian Webb is a professional blogger, writter and SEO Consultant from NYC currently working for www.proctorsubaru.com. Writing articles is his passion and the best way to be seen is by doing guest posting with good and informative articles, like this one, where he wrote about Nascar crash history, hoping you will learn something about Nascar racing.