NASCAR Crashes: 20 Worst & Most Fatal Wrecks in HistoryStories
We all make mistakes, and NASCAR drivers are not an exception. However, when these professionals make mistakes, they are often dangerous and even fatal. This makes sense because the average top speed during this type of stock car racing is 200 miles per hour. Indeed, these vehicles are made specially, but this doesn’t mean that the drivers are completely safe. On the contrary, we have many examples of NASCAR crashes that have ended fatally.
The NASCAR Cup Series started in 1949, which means that it’s over 70 years old. Over all these years, fans have witnessed fatal NASCAR crashes and awful NASCAR wrecks. It’s good to mention some of these incidents and accidents from time to time as a reminder of what can happen when you are driving fast cars without being 100% focused on the track. Tragedies the eNASCAR could never have.
The collection of NASCAR crashes videos we’ve prepared for you includes incredible footage of famous incidents. Unfortunately, some of the participants lost their lives. On the other hand, we have video clips from crashes that left drivers badly or slightly injured. In any case, these are stunning moments that have changed their lives. Now, without further ado, let’s highlight the worst NASCAR wrecks of all time.
1. GEICO 500 – 2016 Talladega
Did you know that the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama is the longest NASCAR oval? Many of the NASCAR wrecks have happened at this track. In 2016, during the GEICO 500, a total of 17 drivers were involved in a crash. One of the drivers turned a little bit to the left while another tried to do the same in the opposite direction, and that’s when it all started. Luckily, there were no injured drivers despite the tremendous damage.
2. Coke Zero 400 – 2015 Daytona
Austin Dillion had a lot of ups and downs in 2015. For instance, he won the Xfinity race before driving at the Daytona Coke Zero 400 race. Many fans expected an excellent score during this race too, but it all ended with one of the worst NASCAR crashes. It’s worth mentioning that it was not his fault because Denny Hamlin lost control of his vehicle and hit him in the left front tire while Clint Bowyer hit him from behind. Anyway, Dillion flipped into the fence and suffered a bruised tailbone and a bruise on his forearm. On top of that, five fans were injured by debris.
3. Winston 500 – 1987 Talladega
One of the worst NASCAR wrecks happened in 1987 in Talladega during the Winston 500 race (The 1987 Winston 500). This event made NASCAR re-evaluate the safety procedures. That year, Davey Allison won the race, but the most notable event was Bobby Allison’s crash. He went airborne with his vehicle and ripped down almost one hundred feet of protective fence. If it wasn’t for the steel cables in the fence, the car would enter the stands and kill the fans. Once again, we had spectators injured by debris, but nothing serious happened.
4. Daytona 500 – 2001 Daytona
Before this season, Dale Earnhardt had 76 wins. He was an extraordinary driver who started his career in 1975. He would’ve probably kept driving beyond 2001, but this was the year one of the worst fatal NASCAR crashes happened. So, during the Daytona 500 at Daytona, three cars crashed on the last lap of the race. Dale collided with Ken Schrader after bumping into Sterling Marlin. As a result, Earnhardt hit the wall head-on. Unfortunately, his skull was crushed, and this fantastic driver didn’t make it. We should mention that his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second.
5. Craftsman Truck Series – 2000 Daytona
The pickup truck series are pretty popular even today, just like they were in 2000. In the middle of the race, Geoff Bodine (6 races won at NASCAR Xfinity Series and 18 wins at NASCAR Cup Series) was bumped from behind. It was not a significant impact, but at those speeds, it was powerful enough to cause one of the biggest NASCAR wrecks. After watching the video, one can only wonder how did he survive. The truck crashed into a wall, got hit by other trucks, and finally caught fire. Apart from fractures that healed after a few weeks, Bodine was fine.
6. Mexico Series – 2009 Puebla, Mexico
The NASCAR Mexico Corona Series started in 2004 and had one of the worst accidents in 2009. Carlos Pardo, a Mexico City-born driver, won the championship in 2004 and ended on the third spot in 2005 and 2006. After that, he didn’t do very well, but that was certainly better than what happened in 2009 in Puebla. Pardo was in front of everyone else when another driver challenged him. Unfortunately, he bumped into his vehicle, making Carlos lose control and crash into a wall. This is undoubtedly one of the most horrific NASCAR crashes videos we’ve seen. The car was literally obliterated.
7. Winston Select 500 – 1996 Daytona
Ricky Craven started his NASCAR career in 1986 (NASCAR Xfinity Series). He also participated in NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series too. To be honest, Ricky didn’t have tremendous success, although he won a few races in his long career. What many people remember about this driver was part of one of the ugliest NASCAR wrecks. The accident happened in 1996 during the Winston Select 500 at Daytona. He flipped and destroyed the catch fence and got hit by another car when he got back at the track. This was not his first rodeo, but fortunately, he walked out without any serious injuries.
8. Aaron’s 499 – 2009 Talladega
One thing is for sure – both participants in this incident didn’t want to end the race like that. When Keselowski decided to take the number one spot, Carl Edwards was in the lead. An unsuccessful block made Edwards go airborne. After that, Newman struck the vehicle, the second contact threw Edwards into the fence. The aftermath – eight injured fans (debris). Carl Edwards had minor injuries.
9. Budweiser 250 – 1990 Bristol
Here’s another video of one of the worst NASCAR crashes we’ve seen. During the 170th lap of the Budweiser 250 race in Bristol, Michael Waltrip bumped into Robert Pressley. This contact made him hit the gate at the outside wall. Due to the high speed, he broke the gate and got involved in a head-on collision with the wall. The car was completely destroyed. Fans worried Waltrip died, but he suffered soreness, cuts, bruises, and other minor injuries. Interestingly, Michael thought that Pressley did that on purpose and was mad at him for years.
10. Winston Cup Series – 1991 Watkins Glen
Without any doubt, NASCAR races are exciting, but they can be fatal for the participants too. This was the case for John Delphus McDuffie Jr, who had over 600 races before the deadly event. His first race was in 1963, which means that his last was 28 years later. So, what happened at the 1991 Budweiser at The Glen race (part of NASCAR Winston Cup Series)? This time the reason was a mechanical failure. So, none of the drivers can be blamed for the accident. After the failure, McDuffie collided with Means and a retaining wall. The problem itself resulted from a lost wheel which made the brakes stop working. This was one of the most terrifying fatal NASCAR crashes to date.
11. DieHard 500 – 1993 Talladega
One of the worst NASCAR wrecks happened in 1993 at Talladega. The race was part of the DieHard 500, a creepy name, especially once you watch the video. Since there was no protective fence, Jimmy Horton actually flew over the wall and left the track. He suffered severe injuries, but Stanley Smith was affected the most. He hit the wall and cracked his skull. It took ten days for Smith to regain consciousness. The final result was neural paralysis on the left side of his face. Smith continued racing in 1995, and Talladega installed a modern catch fencing.
12. World 600 – 1964 Charlotte
The video may not be very clear, but you can tell by the flames that something terrible has happened in 1964 at Charlotte Speedway. Unfortunately, there were several fatal NASCAR crashes in the 1960s and 1970s, and Glenn Roberts was involved in one of them. In 1963, he won the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500. That’s why many believed Roberts was prepared to win the World 600 in 1964. Sadly, he died trying to avoid two other drivers colliding at the track. His car slammed into the retaining wall and created a massive fire. He died of burns after several weeks spent in hospital. Ironically, his nickname was “Fireball.”
13. Daytona 500 – 2003 Daytona
With three awards and almost 20 wins at the NASCAR Cup Series, we can freely say that Ryan Newman is a successful stock racing driver. However, this doesn’t mean that Ryan was not involved in any accidents during his career. In fact, one of the worst NASCAR wrecks is associated with this professional driver. During the 2003 Daytona 500, Newman flips after colliding with Bobby Labonte and Ken Schrader. The car rolled a few times before it was completely wrecked. The emergency team rushed to the scene, but Newman was uninjured.
14. Primestar 500 – 1998 Atlanta
It’s not just the races that can be dangerous. It’s the practice sessions too. NASCAR fans have witnessed several incidents like this, and the one that involved Steve Park is among the most famous. He was competing for just two years when this awful accident happened. This time, it was the vehicle’s fault because a tire failure made him hit the wall three times before stopping. Park tried to avoid these bumps unsuccessfully. He was left with two cracked teeth, a broken leg, shoulder blade, and collarbone. He returned a year later.
15. Atlanta Journal 500 – 1990 Atlanta
Of course, the NASCAR drivers are at risk when driving, but the same goes for the pit crew. In 1990, a rear tire changer lost his life in one of the worst fatal NASCAR crashes. Bill Elliot’s team was changing his vehicle’s tires when Ricky Rudd lost control of his car and struck one tire changer. It was a horrifying incident with fatal consequences. After this tragic event, NASCAR set lower speed limits on the pit roads.
16. EA Sports 500 – 2003 Talladega
It’s incredible how things can go terribly wrong in a split second during NASCAR racing events. That’s something that Elliott Sadler confirmed after losing control during the EA Sports 500 event in Talladega in 2003. To avoid Dale Ehrhardt Jr.’s car, he steered to the left and barely touched Kurt Busch’s vehicle. This was enough for his car to fly into the air, perform a double flip, land on its roof, and start flipping again. It was a wild ride for Sadler, who miraculously didn’t suffer any injuries.
17. Rebel 400 – 1970 Darlington
It’s pretty natural for one of the most famous NASCAR drivers with 35 years of experience to be involved in several accidents. One of the worst NASCAR wrecks with Richard Petty in the central role happened in 1970 at the Rebel 400 event in Darlington. He lost control over his Plymouth Roadrunner, crashed into the retaining wall, and the vehicle started rolling, flipping, and spinning. Fortunately, he made it, but NASCAR decided to use protective nets in all cars and provide adequate neck and head support.
18. Winston 500 – 1987 Talladega
One of the last NASCAR crashes we will share happened to Bobby Allison, an iconic driver with many spectacular wins. One of the drivers bumped into the rear end of his vehicle just enough to make him lose balance. His car went airborne and crashed into the wall. After that, it spun several times. After the incident, NASCAR introduced the restrictor place rules. We should also mention that Bobby Allison was not injured, and he continued his racing career for one more year.
19. Aaron’s 312 – 2002 Talladega
It’s like Johnny Sauter said, “if I am falling, I am taking all of you with me.” During the 14th lap of the 2002 Aaron’s 312 race in Talladega, several cars bumped into each other before Sauter’s car flipped twice and caused chaos at the track. A total of thirty three vehicles were part of the incident that didn’t lead to any injured drivers.
20. Daytona 500 – 1993 Daytona
Rusty Wallace won 55 NASCAR Cup Series races, but he was lucky to stay alive during the Daytona 500 event in 1993. This was one of the worst NASCAR crashes we have seen. He found himself in the middle of a collision between Derrike Cope and Michael Waltrip. His vehicle rolled several times before it stopped in the grass. Keep in mind that the drivers were traveling at speeds of over 200 mph. The good thing is that he had only minor injuries in the end.