NASCAR is known for its drivers, top speed, limitless money, high-profile racing events, and of course its deadly wrecks. Wrecks are an inseparable element of NASCAR. Some tracks are known for deaths or serious wrecks. Others leave a small margin of error in tight confines.
Some racetracks have particular features that make them especially hazardous to the drivers. Seeing the past lethal crashes and deaths of famous racers NASCAR has framed stringent rules and safety measures for the drivers.
Here, DSPORT has listed down the top 10 horrifying NASCAR crashes of all time. Have a look:
1960- Daytona Modified Sportsman Race
During a Sportsman race at Daytona International Speedway in 1960, NASCAR saw its largest single wreck ever. On 13th February 1960, from a field of 68 cars, 37 were involved in an incident that distorted plenty of sheet metal but resulted in few injuries. Eight drivers were taken to the hospital. But fortunately, there were no fatalities or life-threatening injuries.
After the ill-fated wreck, NASCAR learned that safety at a superspeedway like Daytona was a far more difficult problem than on the short tracks upon which most races were then still run.
1970- Richard Petty at Darlington
The ‘Racing King’ Richard Petty may have been notorious for wrecking his vehicle, but none of his crashes proved scarier than the one he had in 1970 at South Carolina’s Darlington Speedway. Petty hit the retaining wall with his Plymouth Roadrunner and his car went flipping multiple times. It was a horrific crash for sure but miraculously, Petty came out with all his limbs intact.
After this dreadful incident, NASCAR made installation of protective nets in all NASCAR racing cars compulsory. This incident also encouraged the creation of neck and head support safety features in all cars, since none existed before then.
2009- Carlos Pardo NASCAR Corona Series
Carlos Pardo, the winner of ten of the 74 NASCAR Corona Series races, died after crashing while leading on the last lap during the 2009 race.
During the Mexico Series race at Puebla, Pardo was on Lap 97, when his car was tapped from behind, causing him to spin out of control and smash into a wall behind the pit lane at 120 miles per hour. His car was obliterated and he had to be airlifted to the hospital. While Pardo was awarded the win because his car was out in front at the time of the crash, that detail doesn’t make this incident any less tragic.
1990- Michael Waltrip at Bristol
For hardcore NASCAR fans, Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the greatest tracks on the circuit. In 1990 during the Budweiser 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Waltrip hit the concrete barrier at the old gate in Turn 2 and tore his race car in two. With his car smashed into pieces, Waltrip incredibly walked away from what many people consider to be the worst crash in NASCAR history.
2002- Mike Harmon at Bristol
August 22, 2002, is the date of one of the worst NASCAR crashes in the motor-racing history. While practicing for NASCAR Nationwide Series, Mike Harmon’s car crashed on turn 2 just like Michael Waltrip’s in 1990. To make it worse, Johnny Sauter ran straight into Harmon’s car. But miracles do happen, Harmon walked away unscathed.
1990- Ricky Rudd at Atlanta
In the last race of the year, Ricky Rudd lost control of his car as he entered Atlanta’s pit road. He spun into Bill Elliott’s car, which was undergoing a tire change. Elliott’s rear tire changer, Mike Rich, was caught in the wreck and later died. Two other crew members were injured. As a result, NASCAR altered pit-road rules and mandated a pit-road speed limit.
1964- Fireball Roberts at Charlotte
While running in the middle of the field, the popular driver Fireball Roberts was caught up in a wreck begun by Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson. Roberts’ car hit the wall and burst into flames. Jarrett pulled Roberts from the wreckage but burns already covered 80 percent of his body. He died after six weeks in a Charlotte hospital, and in the wake of his passing NASCAR mandated far more stringent fire-safety gear, new fuel cells and onboard fire extinguishing gear.
2001- Dale Earnhardt at Daytona
Easily the most traumatic event in NASCAR history was Earnhardt’s death during the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. It all started when Sterling Marlin’s Dodge hit the rear bumper of Earnhardt’s car and sent him spinning into the middle of the track. Ken Schrader was unable to veer around the car and hit Earnhardt’s passenger side door, sending him smashing into the wall at 155 miles per hour and then pushing the vehicle down the track.
2001- Steve Park at Darlington Raceway
In 2001, Steve Park experienced one of the most volatile accidents. As the drivers drove around the track under caution, Larry Foyt raced to catch up to the rest of the vehicles when Park accidentally pulled his steering wheel off, causing his vehicle to swing left across the track. Park suffered serious injuries in the accident, which included massive brain damage and a permanent speech impediment. While it was a long road to recovery, Park never lost his determination.
2009- Carl Edwards at Talladega Superspeedway
In 2009, during Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Carl Edwards caused major damage to his car. While trying to block Brad Keselowski from passing him, Edwards’ vehicle went airborne and slammed into the catch fence on the front stretch. Despite how bad the crash looked, fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the incident.