The Most Spectacular Crashes in Motor Racing History

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Motor Racing is one of the most diverse sports out there, covering everything from Formula 1, Touring Cars, and Le Mans, to Moto GP, Motocross and Nascar. Combined, the fans from all of these sports probably outnumber the fans from most other sports, and all of those fans, whether true motor racing aficionados or not, love a good crash. In fact, sports like Nascar consist almost entirely of fans who watch the race hoping for a good crash.

Every now and then, fans across all motor sports are treated to something spectacular. Of course, they are not heartless, and neither are we. Nobody wants to see any drivers seriously injured or worse, certainly not in the name of entertainment, so those crashes have been omitted from this list.

Daytona 1960

This was the early days of Nascar, as this black and white video — overlaid with an almost eerie sound of screeching tires and buzzing engines — shows. 68 cars entered into the race, but soon after the start (around 1:52 on the video) there is a minor incident in the middle of the pack.

This minor incident caused another incident, and soon the track was in chaos. Dozens of cars spun off the track, slamming into one another. The race continued behind them as the drivers scrambled out of their cars and tried their best to assist their fellow drivers.

In total 37 cars were taken out of the race, but despite the destruction only a handful of drivers were injured, and none of those were serious or fatal.

Spa 1998

The Spa track in Belgium is one of the highlights of the F1 season. It is a fast-paced track, with many corners that the drivers take flat-out. It isn’t typically associated with a great number of crashes that occur at tracks like Monaco, but it only takes a small catalyst to change that.

In 1998, that catalyst was heavy rain. As you can see from the video above, the track was flooded, with the cars spraying shields of steam behind them. The crash happened early on, and at 0.20 of the video, as the leading cars emerge from the corner, they are followed by a loose tire, then another, then a car that’s missing its front wing. After that there is a mass of chaos and colliding metal as half a dozen million-dollar vehicles clatter into each other before smashing into the barricades.

Thankfully, and amazingly, no one was hurt.

Drag Crash 1977

Drag racing is not particularly noted for its crashes. The cars race in a straight line, side-by-side, which means there is very little chance for such catastrophic mistakes. However, they do happen, and when they do, the high-speed and the tight boundaries cause huge destruction.

Such was the case during a 1977 race, when Dale Emery lost control of his car and steered it straight into the boundary. As you can see from the footage, the car practically broke in half, with the body being stripped from the base. In fact, looking at the crash and what remains, you’re almost forgiven for forgetting there is a person in there somewhere.

Luckily, Dale survived the crash.

Rally Crashes

Most of the above crashes have involved numerous cars, and the more cars involved, the bigger and more destructive the crash is. However, as the drag crash above shows, sometimes it takes just one car for an epic crash, and when single car crashes are involved, you can’t get more catastrophic than rally driving.

This video is a collection of some of the most spectacular crashes in recent rally competitions. If you’re not familiar with the sport, it is a time-trial event whereby drivers navigate around tight bends at high speeds. Rally tracks are often located on mountains, in forests and anywhere else you will find tight, twisting roads and a great deal of dangerous scenery.