Some Of The Most Talked About Crashes in the History of Motorcycle Racing


Ben Campanale, born in 1914, became a local celebrity when he attached an airplane propeller to an old motorcycle, using it to drag people across a frozen lake at 80+ miles an hour. He moved on to racing and won the Daytona 200 in 1938. Upon winning his first race, Campanale was approached by William Harley, of Harley-Davidson fame, and was given a Harley  to race with.

In his second race, on his new Harley, wearing minimal safety gear, Campanale survived a motorcycle pile-up that is still considered one of the worst in history. Driver June McCall was leading the race in the Oakland 200 in 1941. McCall fell, causing Campanale to swerve to miss him. In the swerve, Camapanale lost control and went down, along with several other drivers. He spent many months in the hospital recovering with fellow rider Jim Kelly. Campanale later described the wreckage of bodies and parts as looking as if a bomb had gone off.

The wreck took the lives of two and put three in the hospital. Ben Campanale was finally inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.

Roethlisberger’s Las Vegas Wreck

Although this incident did not happen in a race, the story begs to be told. Ben Roethlisberger is no stranger to motorcycle wrecks, having had one in 2006 that broke his upper and lower jaw, and his nose.  However, in 2009, Roethlisberger was involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in an alleged injury to a woman’s private parts.

The woman was an attendant at the Harrah Las Vegas hotel, who accused him of doing physical damage to that part of her body when he allegedly hit her with his motorcycle. The accusation, brought a year after the alleged incident, elicited a response from Roethlisberger’s lawyer. He stated that there had been no police investigation into the accusation, made public in a civil lawsuit. He also added that Ben would never deliberately crash into a woman. The wreck incurred no serious injuries to Roethlisberger and he was able to continue playing for the Steelers.

Seeing is Believing

Lauren Hutton, super model and actress, was riding in a benefit for the opening of the Hermitage-Guggenheim museum. In a move that could only be described as fate, her friend, Jeremy Irons, gave her a helmet that saved her life. Hutton had been riding with a helmet that had no visor. She put his helmet on, took off and hit the ground at speeds of 90 to 110 miles per hour. She later stated that it was hard to believe anyone on the rate of speed because she never goes that fast on a motorcycle…

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