Most Intense Crashes in The History of NASCAR


NASCAR racing is all about the excitement of the race, the danger and the thrill of competition; however crashes are part of the intensity of the experience. There is no question that the fatal crash of Dale Earnhardt during the Daytona 500 in 2001 is one of the most influential crashes in the sport’s history. While it was not the most spectacular crash, it led to many changes in the safety of NASCAR racing.

The loss of Dale Earnhardt was felt throughout the sport’s fandom; Earnhardt was a popular hero to NASCAR fans. His on-track wreck left a legacy of radical change in the attitude towards NASCAR driver safety. Earnhardt’s crash doesn’t look very violent on film, but the way his Chevy hit the wall was disastrous.

1960 Daytona – In the good old days of NASCAR racing, the field of play was open to many more cars than it is today. In 1960, 68 cars competed against each other. In this epic wreck, 37 drivers crashed including six roof landings.

1980 Pocono –  Richard Petty The incredible career of Richard Petty was marked by more than one crash, but this one resulted in a broken neck. The tunnel turn crash was devastating; although Petty went on to win more races afterward.

1984 Daytona – Ricky Rudd Rudd crashed into the inside wall of Daytona in the 1984 Busch Clash, wrecking his vehicle. He walked away with a concussion and two eyes swollen shut, and then raced a week later in the Daytona 500. This massive accident began a new period in NASCAR racing when all drivers began to be examined for injury before allowing them to race the next week.

1987 Talladega – Bobby won the 1988 Daytona 500 after the incredible crash in this race. His crash through the Talladega catch-fence was captured on film and is talked about to this day. On the 22nd lap, Allison’s Buick LeSabre blew its right rear tire entering the front tri-oval and started to spin. Allison was going 200 mph in a Buick traveling backwards. When air got under the car’s back end, it lifted off and rose above the retaining wall and along the catch-fencing that kept the track from the fans. When it came down, the Buick was hit by several other race cars. Allison escaped unhurt, but some fans in the stands were injured.

Starting with the 1988 race, NASCAR instituted the first restrictor-plate race, stepping in to control speeds. NASCAR decided that while it was okay for drivers to get injured, fans were a different story. The two superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega had cars going too fast. Restrictor plates underneath carburetors were the answer and they are still used today.

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