- 1+ 98- 25
1955 Le Mans Disasterv
Some prefer to point to the deaths of famous race car drivers as "the worst" in history. They're wrong. In 1955, the worst disaster in automotive racing history occurred. What happened? At Le Mans, Jaguar driver Mike Hawthorn belatedly noticed his pit crew's signal to stop for gas and slammed on his brakes. The Austin-Healey behind him, driven by Lance Macklin, lost control and veered straight across the track directly in front of Pierre Levegh driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR. Levegh collided into the ramp, shaved the back of the Austin-Healey at approximately 150mph, and was sent airborne. Pierre was thrown from his Mercedes and killed instantly. His Mercedes slammed into a dirt embankment, and flipped over, launching the front axle, the engine, and the hood of the Mercedes into the crowd. The axle careened through the grand stand, leaving a trail of of bodies. The hood spun through the spectators like a guillotine, decapitating full groups of people at a time. The engine itself killed many as well. The Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, made largely out of magnesium (which was common at the time to reduce weight), burst into flames, and then exploded when the fire marshals sprayed water on it. In the end, 83 spectators were dead and another 120 injured. As the only driver unable to defend himself, Levegh was largely blamed. As more footage has been acquired over the past several decades, though, it is now obvious that Hawthorne and Mackliin were at fault. The first clip within the included video was likely taken by a spectator right before he or she was killed.
- 2+ 56- 14
Tom Pryce's Fatal Crashv
Just a warning, this video is especially gruesome. At the 1977 South African Grand Prix, Renzo Zorzi had a problem with his car and pulled off the track. Zorzi's car quickly caught fire, and Zorzi safely jumped out. This is where the carnage began.
Two race marshals decided to sprint across the track with fire extinguishers. The first marshal barely made it, but the second one, a 19-year-old named Frederick Jansen Van Buren, was struck by Tom Pryce who was driving at 170mph. Van Buren was cleaved in half, and his body so horribly dismembered that his boss was only able to identify him by summoning all of the other race marshals and seeing who was missing. But it didn't stop there.
The 40-pound fire extinguisher Van Buren had been carrying struck Pryce in the head with such force that Pryce's helmet strap partially decapitated him. The fire extinguisher landed in the parking lot outside of the track, having flown over the grandstand. Pryce was killed instantly. Pryce's car continued to hurtle down the track at almost 170mph, ultimately crashing into the car of driver Jacques Laffite.
- 3+ 65- 29
Roger Williamson's Fatal Crashv
For me, this is the hardest crash to watch. In Roger Williamson's second Formula One race, a tire failure likely caused his car to flip over and burst into flames. Williamson avoided serious injury, but was now trapped in his car. The inept safety marshals did not know what to do, nor were they equipped with fire proof clothing.
Driver David Purley abandoned his car and sprinted across the track to save Williamson. Purley could hear Williamson shouting for him to help. Purley desperately tried to put out the fire and flip Williamson's car back over, begging the marshals to help him. While the marshals did nothing, Purley did his best, but ultimately failed as the other drivers simply drove past. By the time the fire truck arrived, eight minutes later, Williamson had already died from asphyxiation. The whole scene was broadcast on live television.
- 4+ 42- 19
Dan Wheldon's Fatal Crashv
During the 11th lap of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship, two cars clipped each other, sending one airborne and the other into the wall. This resulted in a 15-car pile up, including Wheldon's. Since he was traveling at race speed when the accident occurred, his car was launched and barrel-rolled into the catch fence before landing head down. His injuries were so bad that he was unable to remove himself from the vehicle. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. The crash resulted in a red-flag and the race was ended and not replayed. Wheldon was put at the top of the listings in his honor.
- 5+ 28- 12
Gilles Villeneuve's Fatal Crashv
Few things are as chilling as seeing a race car driver ejected from his car during a crash. Whereas decades ago, drivers hoped to be "thrown clear" of a crash, modern race cars are built to provide of a protective shell around the driver. Gilles Villeneuve was considered another of Formula One's greatest drivers. In this clip you can actually see his body catapulted across the track and into a safety fence. He died that night after being put on life support.
- 6+ 24- 15
Greg Moore's Fatal Crashv
Greg Moore was a young, well liked driver in CART. In 1999, Moore lost control of his car while going over 200mph. The top, exposed portion of Moore's car collided with a concrete wall. Moore was critically injured and died shortly thereafter.
- 7+ 22- 14
Eddie Sachs & Dave MacDonald's Fatal Crashv
The Indy 500, 1964. Dave MacDonald, driving what many regarded as a horribly built race car, lost control. Hitting the inside wall, MacDonald's car exploded then veered back across the track where it was broadsided by the car of Eddie Sachs, creating a second explosion. Johnny Rutherford, driving the car behind Sachs, was left with no choice but to hit the throttle and power through the carnage. With his car now on fire, Rutherford was then broadsided by Bobby Unser. The car behind Rutherford, driven by Ronnie Duman, was then rear ended by Bobby Unser, who now had no steering, causing Duman's car to also explode. MacDonald died two hours later in the hospital. Eddie Sachs died in his car. Fellow drivers reported seeing him trying to get out. This was the first time in history that the Indy 500 was stopped because of an accident.
- 8+ 25- 19
Alex Zanardi loses his Legsv
In 2001, on the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, driver Alex Zanardi had the worst crash of his career (so far). Attempting to merge back onto the track after a pit stop, Zanardi spun out and was ultimately broadsided by the car driven by Alex Tagliani. The front of half of Zanardi's car was sheered off, taking Zanardi's legs with it. Zanardi would lose three quarters of his blood, but the medical crew was able to save his life. Zanardi still races today with prosthetic legs.
- 9+ 15- 11
Niki Lauda - 1976 Nurburgringv
The Nordschleife, one of the most amazing race tracks in the world. In 1976, it was predetermined that the 14 mile track was no longer suitable for modern F1 safety regulations and television broadcasts. Niki Lauda, one of the greatest drivers in the sport, tried to boycott the race based on those safety concerns. The other drivers overruled Niki's suggestion, and as fate would have it, it would be Niki himself who would almost burn to death during the race. Niki was saved by three of his fellow drivers who stopped and pulled him from his car. Even though they had a Porsche, the race officials weren't able to get there quick enough.
- 10+ 15- 11
Jerry Caminito - Drag Racev
In 1994, Jerry Caminito had one of the worst, funny car crashes ever to be filmed. When Caminito's spill plate snapped off, he lost control of his car and went careening through the left barrier as his car was completely destroyed. Fortunately, Caminito was airlifted to a hospital and survived.
- 11+ 13- 13
Dale Earnhardt's Fatal Crashv
As one of the most popular race car drivers in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt's death shook American motor racing. The crash is famous for appearing so minimal (similar to Senna's). Earnhardt died of a Basilar skull fracture. Unfortunately, Earnhardt had refused to wear a HANS device, which would have protected him from such an injury. Due to this crash, HANS devices are now mandatory.
- 12+ 12- 12
Tetsuya Ota Crashv
At first, the crash doesn't seem so bad. Then the real crash happens. The driver of the Porsche, Tomohiko Sunako, fractured one of his legs. It was the driver of the Ferrari though, Tetsuya Ota, who had problems. Tetsuya was trapped inside his car for 90 seconds, baring 800 degree heat, until a fellow driver pulled over and helped. When the safety marshals finally did show up, they laid Tetsuya on his back, causing the melted visor on his helmet to sag onto his face causing further burns. Tetsuya ultimately survived, but his racing career was over.
- 13+ 10- 11
Jim Clark's Fatal Crashv
Had he lived, Jim Clark could have quite possibly been the most successful racing driver of all time, outdoing Schumacher, Fangio, and Senna. He died in a Formula Two race at the Hockenheimring in Germany. On the fifth lap, Clark's Lotus went off the track and into the trees. Clark's neck was broken and his skull was fractured. He did not make it to the hospital. The likely cause of the accident was a deflating rear tire.
- 14+ 16- 18
Ayrton Senna's Fatal Crashv
He is considered by many to be the greatest racing driver of all time. This is the crash that instantly killed him. Unlike the previous entries, this crash is not particularly dramatic. What it is though is the death of a legend, a crash that shook motor racing to its core.
- 15+ 13- 15
Lorenzo Bandini's Fatal Crashv
At the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix, Lorenzo Bandini lost control of his car. Clipping the guard rail with his rear-left wheel, Bandini skidded into a light pole. His car flipped over and burst into flames. Trapped in his car, Bandini received third degree burns to 70% of his body. He would succumb to his injuries three days later.
- 16+ 10- 13
Stan Fox almost loses his Legsv
At the 1995 Indy 500, Stan Fox was involved in a crash that ripped the entire nose from his car, leaving his legs completely exposed. Fox survived with serious head injuries, but this crash ended his racing career.
- 17+ 6- 12
Phil Lamattina - Drag Racev
This is considered one of, if not "the" worst crash in the history of Australian drag racing.
- 18+ 4- 10
1957 Mille Miglia Disasterv
This is almost a miniature version of the 1955 Le Mans disaster. In 1957, Alfonso de Portago lost control of his Ferrari during the Mille Miglia when one of his tires went flat. The car veered from one side of the road to the other killing ten spectators, five of whom were children. Portago's co-driver, Edmond Nelson, was killed and Portago himself was ripped in half. 1957 would be the last year the Mille Miglia was run as a full-on race.
- 19+ 4- 11
1998 Beglian Grand Prix Startv
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting moments during a race is the start. It's also where you're most likely to see a crash since you have every car on the track all clumped together. At the beginning of the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, David Coultard lost control of his McLaren, and a chain reaction occurred, taking out half of the field. The race was restarted, and fortunately many drivers were able to switch to a spare car. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt.
- 20+ 5- 14
Bruce Allen - Drag Racev
This is what it looks like when drag racers collide. When Bruce Allen lost control of his vehicle, he swerved left, directly into the path of Ken Koretsky. Both men survived. Allen had a concussion, and Koretsky a bruised heart. Amazing, considering that Koretsky watched the engine from Allen's car come smashing through his windshield.
L The List