10 Worst Wrecks In NASCAR History

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NASCAR is famous for its fast-paced excitement and intense races, but it also has a darker side, which is marked by some of the worst crashes in motorsport history. Over the years, these accidents have tested how tough drivers are and pushed the limits of vehicle safety and race rules. These moments have left a deep mark on NASCAR, from big pileups that turned tracks into chaotic messes to terrifying crashes that shocked the racing world.

1. Dale Earnhardt’s Fatal Crash (2001)

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt tragically died on February 18, 2001, during the last lap of the Daytona 500 race. His car, the No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, collided with another and crashed into the outer wall of turn 4 at Daytona International Speedway. Due to Earnhardt’s unexpected death, NASCAR later implemented significant safety improvements. These included requiring head-and-neck restraints, adding SAFER barriers to oval tracks, enforcing stricter seat and seatbelt inspection rules, and developing a roof-hatch escape system.

2. Richard Petty’s 1970 Darlington Crash

Richard Petty’s crash at Darlington in 1970 was a significant moment in NASCAR history. It occurred during the Southern 500 on September 7, 1970, while Petty was driving his famous No. 43 Plymouth Superbird. His car experienced a mechanical failure, smashing into the wall and flipping several times before coming to a stop. This incident prompted NASCAR to mandate the use of the window net, an essential safety measure in today’s NASCAR cars.

3. Geoff Bodine’s 2000 Truck Series Crash

During the Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2000, Bodine’s truck was involved in a terrifying accident. His truck flipped multiple times after colliding with another vehicle, eventually landing on its roof and sliding across the track before catching fire. Despite the severity of the crash, Geoff Bodine miraculously survived with serious injuries, eventually recovering over time.

4. Bobby Allison’s Talladega Crash (1987)

During the Winston 500 on May 3, 1987, Allison’s car suffered a catastrophic failure on the front straightaway after his right-rear tire blew out. The failure caused his car to lift off the ground, spin sideways, and collide with the catchfence. The impact was so intense that sections of the catchfence were demolished, and debris scattered into the grandstands. Fortunately, while some spectators were injured, there were no fatalities.  Bobby Allison, remarkably, survived the crash with only minor injuries,

5. Rusty Wallace’s Bristol Crash (1988)

Rusty Wallace’s crash at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1988 took place during the Valleydale 500. His car suffered a sudden mechanical failure, causing it to spin out of control and flip five times as he negotiated the high-banked turns. The impact was substantial, requiring approximately 15 minutes for rescue workers to remove Wallace from the wreckage. Despite the violent nature of the crash, he remarkably avoided serious injury.

6. Michael Waltrip’s Bristol Crash (1990)

In 1990, Michael Waltrip faced a terrifying crash at Bristol during the Budweiser 250 in the spring. On the 170th lap, his Busch Series Pontiac Grand Prix was severely damaged when it collided with Robert Pressley’s No. 59 car. Waltrip’s vehicle then struck an open gate in the wall, splitting it in half. Remarkably, he emerged from the wreckage with only minor cuts and bruises.

7. Ernie Irvan’s Michigan Crash (1994)

In the 1994 GM Goodwrench Dealer 400 at Michigan, Ernie Irvan experienced a near-fatal crash when the right front of his Ford suddenly dipped, sending the car straight into the wall at Turn 2 and hitting the right front corner first. The impact caused his lungs to collapse, necessitating an emergency tracheostomy at the scene to help him breathe. Miraculously, he survived and made a remarkable return to racing.

8. Austin Dillon’s Daytona Crash (2015)

As the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona neared its conclusion in 2015, Austin Dillon’s No. 3 car was launched into the air and crashed into the catchfence, scattering debris into the grandstand in a terrifying accident. Remarkably, only one fan was hospitalized and was in stable condition, while four others received on-site treatment from emergency personnel. Dillon, fortunate to escape without major injuries, walked away with just a bruised tailbone and forearm.

9. Tony Stewart’s Daytona Crash (2001)

Tony Stewart’s crash during the 2001 Daytona 500 occurred on lap 173 at Daytona International Speedway when an 18-car pileup occurred when Ward Burton’s car made contact with Robby Gordon’s, setting off a chain reaction. Stewart’s No. 20 Pontiac Grand Prix was hit, causing it to flip violently multiple times before landing on its roof and eventually righting itself.

Despite the severity of the crash, Stewart miraculously escaped with only minor injuries, including a concussion and a bruised shoulder. The crash led to a significant delay in the race as the track was cleared. This incident, combined with the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt later in the same race, underscored the need for improved safety measures in NASCAR.

10. Kyle Larson’s Daytona Crash (2013)

Kyle Larson’s crash during the 2013 DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway took place on the final lap of the race as drivers battled for position. A collision between Regan Smith and Brad Keselowski triggered a massive pileup, trapping Larson’s No. 32 Chevrolet.

Larson’s car was launched into the air and slammed into the catchfence, resulting in a terrifying scene. The impact sheared off the front of his car, sending the engine and debris flying into the grandstands. The remaining part of his car, engulfed in flames, skidded to a stop on the track. Remarkably, Larson escaped without serious injury, though 28 spectators were hurt by the flying debris, with 14 needing hospitalization.