This idea came to me one day when I was sent a very rare photo by a friend of a crash at Daytona that really no one knows about. I decided I’d chronicle a few flips in NASCAR that no one knows about. Not much more to say, so let’s get started. This is in chronological order. These all come from various flip lists on the internet, most notably CrashTwice’s list, which can be found in a link at the bottom. Also used were a list I found on Reddit and another on rubbins-racin, both of which are also at the bottom. None of them are complete, but all have been excellent references.
There are actually many more beyond these baker’s dozen, and there were even some I couldn’t find any documentation on beyond confirmation that the driver had crashed during the race, or even none at all besides their entry on the lists. See if you can find information on them.
1. JUNIOR JOHNSON (1959, GRAND NATIONAL, HICKORY)
This crash perfectly summarized the racing of the day and its competitors.
During practice for a 1959 race at Hickory, Junior Johnson upended his 1957 Ford. The car flopped back onto its wheels, and Johnson drove it back to the pits. The crew surveyed the damage, repaired the car, and, using the very same car (as backup cars were not permitted in those days), Johnson went on to win the pole and, after a very hard-fought battle, the 250 lap race itself.
2. JESSE SAMPLES (1965, GRAND NATIONAL, ATLANTA)
A driver’s lone start doesn’t go according to plan…
Jesse Samples plowed his #96 Chevy into the barrier during the 1965 Dixie 400 at Atlanta. The car pierced the barrier, sending the car upside down and damaging the barrier severely. The 1963 Chevy was a complete write-off, but Samples was all right. This would prove to be his only start.
3. DAREL DIERINGER (1966, GRAND NATIONAL, RICHMOND)
Darel Dieringer managed to upend his #16 Mercury Marauder at what is now the Richmond International Raceway in 1966. The crash happened when Dieringer went straight on into the wall, which he then climbed. Dieringer was unhurt.
4. RICHARD CHILDRESS (1972, WINSTON CUP, TEXAS WORLD)
It’s very hard to believe that once upon a time Richard Childress was just another independent driver on a shoestring budget.
About two thirds of the way through the 1972 Lone Star 500, a race well remembered for being run during a heat wave, Richard Childress was running on his own when Doc Faustina blew his engine. Childress tried to get out of the way of Faustina, but ended up rolling his #96 Chevrolet three times down turn two, landing in a ditch. Childress was only bruised.
5. BRUCE JACOBI (1977, WINSTON CUP, CHARLOTTE)
A truly vicious crash remembered by few.
During last chance qualifying for the 1977 World 600, Rick Newsom lost control of his car off of turn four and struck the wall. As the car came down the track, the #78 Chevrolet of Bruce Jacobi plowed into Newsom. The contact was so hard that it jarred Jacobi into the air and for several rolls down the apron before it came to rest on its door. Newsom’s engine was ripped out of the car by the impact. Newsom suffered a broken leg, but Jacobi was removed from the car with only bruises.
6. BLACKIE WANGERIN (1979, WINSTON CUP, MICHIGAN)
Another vicious one that is not remembered very much.
On lap 2 of the 1979 Champion Spark Plug 400, H.B. Bailey lost an engine and spun his car through turn three. The #39 Mercury of Blackie Wangerin struck Bailey’s car at high speed, then proceeded to strike the wall with such force that his car jumped the wall as if he was a pole vaulter driving his pole into the ground. The car took out several fence posts as it flew and turned over, eventually coming back down to earth and sliding down the opposing embankment. Wangerin suffered injuries to his abdomen and arm, though what exactly they were was not disclosed. The race was red flagged for about forty minutes for repairs.
Baxter Price’s #45 Oldsmobile suffered heavy damage in the crash, though he eventually returned to the race without bumpers, a hood and a grill.
7. BOBBY BALLANTINE (1981, LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN, DAYTONA)
Yet another extremely violent crash.
Ellicott City, Maryland native Bobby Ballantine lost control of his car off of turn four during the 1981 Sportsman 300, which had been rained out early on on Saturday and was being completed the Monday after the 500. The #1 Pontiac went airborne and rolled wildly through the air, doing several spectacular twists and turns before coming to rest on its wheels. Ballantine was injured, but he’d return to his local short tracks within a few months.
8. MIKE MESSER (1983, LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN, BRISTOL)
Bristol is very bizarre.
Short track racer Mike Messer backed his car into the wall and flipped down the banking during the 1983 Southeastern 150 Late Model Sportsman race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The #27 7-Up Pontiac was utterly demolished, but Messer was all right and stepped out of his car under his own power.
9. CHARLIE RUDOLPH (1988, WINSTON CUP, DAYTONA)
Fun fact, I’ve actually seen Charlie’s son Erick in action in TQ events, and he’s really good.
During Tuesday practice for the 1988 Daytona 500, Charlie Rudolph was rounding the tri-oval when he came across Ernie Irvan’s slower car running along the apron. The pair disagreed as to what happened. Rudolph said that he lost it in Irvan’s dirty air, while Irvan said Rudolph must have broken something and darted sideways right in front of Irvan. In any case, air got under Rudolph’s car, likely helped by Irvan, and the Ransomville, NY native’s #72 Pontiac was sent for several rolls. Richard Petty and Bobby Hillin were also collected. All drivers were unhurt, but Rudolph had to withdraw. Though Rudolph indicated he had another car to run the rest of the season with, he never made another Cup attempt.
10. BILLY STANDRIDGE (1990, BUSCH SERIES, DAYTONA)
Here’s the crash that piqued my interest in doing this article.
Billy Standridge flipped his #47 Standridge Auto Parts Pontiac all on its own down one of the short chutes during Monday practice for the 1990 Goody’s 300 at Daytona. It’s difficult to ascertain exactly what happened due to the heavy damage specifically to the car’s rear, but in any case Standridge was unhurt.
11. RICH WOODLAND, JR. (1994, WINSTON CUP, SONOMA)
That’s not what they mean by a flying lap…
West Series competitor Rich Woodland, Jr.’s car shot off of turn ten during his qualifying lap while attempting to make the 1994 Save Mart Supermarkets 300. The #86W Oldsmobile struck the tires, flew over the wall, and landed upside down in the parking area. Woodland was unhurt, but of course, having crashed on his qualifying lap, he’d be flipping burgers, so to speak.
12. SHANE HALL (2000, BUSCH SERIES, LAS VEGAS)
This was a violent, violent crash that is frequently forgotten about, probably because it happened during testing.
On January 31st, 2000, Shane Hall was running in a Busch Series test session at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his car suffered a steering column failure exiting turn two. It glanced off the outside wall, then darted back across the track directly towards the inside wall at a critical angle. What could have very well been a tragic crash was mitigated somewhat by a tire wall that had been set up down the back chute for some road racing, but the end result was still terrifying. Hall’s #0 Ohio State University Chevrolet slammed the tire wall and flew into the air, sending his car for no less than five jarring rolls. The car was demolished, and Hall suffered a broken left ankle, but he was back behind the wheel within a day.
13. BRIAN VICKERS (2002, BUSCH SERIES, ROCKINGHAM)
This one has been thrown around for the past few years, but I actually have confirmation that it happened.
I was never able to find much on this crash, which occurred during a test session. I actually had to ask the man himself, and was unfortunately not given much info. But whatever happened, one thing’s for sure. During a test session at Rockingham in 2002, Brian Vickers blew a tire exiting turn two and found himself on his lid, presumably after hitting the oddly-sloped backstretch wall.
This is the final part. Beforehand, I’m going to go over the list so far.
50. TIRE CHANGER JIMMY WATTS BRINGS OUT CAUTION AT ATLANTA, 2009
49. RON BURCHETTE PROVES THAT ARCA BRAKES EXIST AT DAYTONA, 1995
48. WTCC CARS PILE UP UNDER RED FLAG CONDITIONS AT MACAU, 2013
47. JEAN ALESI GETS MASSIVE JUMP START AT BAHRAIN, 2009
46. JARED CARLYLE JUMPS STEEPLECHASE HURDLE AT PUKEKOHE, 2007
45. NICOLAS MAYR-MELNHOF FLIPS AT PIT-IN AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, 2011
44. PACE CAR GETS STOLEN BY DRUNKARD AT TALLADEGA, 1986
43. MASSIVE RAINSTORM HITS DURING ETCC RACE AT SILVERSTONE, 1984
42. RUBEN GARCIA ALMOST ENTERS CROWD AT RIVERSIDE, 1988
41. MASS DNQ CONDUCTED DURING ITALIAN F3 FINALE AT MONZA, 2012
40. ARCA ACTUALLY COMPLETES RAIN RACE AT PALM BEACH, 2010
39. DRIVER GETS TASED DURING FIGURE EIGHT RACE AT ANDERSON, 2017
38. RENAULT MEGANES PILE INTO SAFETY TRUCKS AT ZANDVOORT, 1998
37. JOHN PRIOR FLIPS AFTER CHECKERS DURING ARCA RACE AT DUQUOIN, 1985
36. RON FELLOWS MAKES STUPID MOVE UNDER YELLOW AT ROAD AMERICA, 2011
35. CRAIG JARVIS ROLLS HIS FERRARI DURING QUALIFYING AT KYALAMI, 2017
34. DRIVER’S SPONSOR STEALS HIS RACE CAR FOR STUNT AT ALTAMONT, 2006
33. HANS HEYER ILLEGALLY STARTS GERMAN GRAND PRIX, 1977
32. BERND MAYLANDER HITS MANHOLE IN THE STREETS OF SHANGHAI, 2004
31. FIRE LORRY FLIPS DURING SAFETY CAR PERIOD AT BRANDS HATCH, 2011
30. UTV CROSSES TRACK DURING INDOOR MIDGET RACE AT TRENTON, 2017
29. FORMULA THREE CAR FLIPS ON TOW LINE AT SNETTERTON, 2003
28. DRIVER FLIPS ON SIDE, ROLLS CAR BACK, CONTINUES AT PORTLAND, 1994
27. INFLATABLE ORANGE GETS BLOWN ONTO TRACK AT CHICAGOLAND, 2004
26. MARCOS AMBROSE’S INFAMOUS TIRE ROLL AT CANBERRA, 2001
25. IDIOT DRIVES CIVILIAN CAR ON TRACK DURING RACE AT BRANDS HATCH, 2011
24. FIERY INCIDENT INVOLVING MANHOLE ENDS RACE AT MONTREAL, 1990
23. EXPANDED GRID SIZE MADE MOOT BY START CRASH AT INDIANAPOLIS, 1997
22. PETER BRAID RAMPS ONTO SHELTER ROOF AT BLANDFORD, 1949
21. MASSIVE START PILEUP DURING BIG RIG RACE AT CAMPO GRANDE, 2005
20. MERCEDES CLR PROJECT EPIC FAILS AT LE MANS, 1999
19. SEVERAL CARS SPLIT AFTER HITTING FAN GATES AT BRISTOL, 1990/2002
18. R. KORDECKI STUPIDLY WRITES OFF FERRARI AT SLOVAKIARING, 2010
17. TEAM FINDS BLOWUP DOLL IN STALLED PORSCHE AT SEBRING, 1983
16. INCREDIBLE WEATHER DURING ENDURANCE RACE AT NURBURGRING, 2016
15. J.M. TRAVERSO WINS DESPITE CAR BEING ON FIRE AT GENERAL ROCA, 1988
14. DRIVER THROWS AWAY WIN AND TITLE AT MAR DEL PLATA, 2000
13. BUDDY BAKER’S INFAMOUS GURNEY FLIP AT SMOKY MOUNTAIN, 1968?
12. DRIVER CLIMBS ATOP ANOTHER’S ROOF AT NAVARRA, 2015
11. ALL CARS RUN OUT OF FUEL AT FORMULA FOUR RACE AT SEPANG, 2017
Now then, let’s get it all started.
10. A SCHOOL BUS ENTERS THE TRACK (2017, USF4, AUSTIN)
NEW TO LIST
I…have no idea what to say about this one.
School buses are often used at the Circuit of the Americas when it comes time to pick up marshals at day’s end, and are also used to give tours. One day in September 2017, the school bus driver was told to head out and fetch the marshals from their posts at 19:00 local time, when the racing would be either done or almost done. However, the day’s events ran very long, and at 19:00 there was still a United States Formula Four race going on, the last race of the day. The driver, having never been told not to set out at 19:00, did so. One wrong turn later, he found himself pulling onto the race track at turn six, leading to the 30 seat bus briefly driving backwards on the circuit.
Thankfully, the red flag was waved, and the field of about 30 to 35 was able to avoid the bus. Once it was assisted off the circuit, officials decided that they had the time to finish the event, and it was run to completion.
09. TWISTER DURING A RACE IN ARGENTINA (2016, TC MOURAS, CONCEPCION DEL URUGUAY)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 32ND
We aren’t done with weather…
On November 27th, 2016, the TC Mouras series, a lower tier series feeding into the Turismo Carretera, a stock car series which serves as the highest level series in Argentina, was running a race at the Concepcion Del Uruguay circuit when a storm struck. The storm quickly grew worse, with heavy rain and lightning every which way. To make things even worse, a tornado touched down.
With the safety car out, the drivers pulled to the side of the track and sought cover. The tornado’s gusts measured to about 65mph, more than enough to damage the track’s facilities. In the nearby town, the tornado damaged the water facilities and power stations, knocking out those utilities for the next couple hours. During the storm, a rainfall of about two inches in two hours was recorded. Thankfully, despite the twister and extremely heavy rain, no one was badly injured in the storm. The race eventually resumed a few days later.
08. BAS SCHOUTEN’S SABOTAGE (2016, TCR GERMANY, ZANDVOORT)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 9TH
Okay, that’s just really selfish.
During a TCR Germany touring car race at Zandvoort in 2016, Dutchman Bas Schouten’s SEAT collided with a fellow competitor’s Volkswagen right out of the gate, damaging the suspension of the car and taking him out of the race. Schouten appears to have believed his car could continue after repairs, and was not pleased with Zandvoort’s officials dragging the car on its damaged suspension from the starting area, where he had crashed, to pit exit, which certainly made things worse. Apparently, officials also told him that he’d have to either have his car wheeled back or get a flatbed himself. Out of anger, Schouten told his team to put the car on a jack and leave it at pit exit, which is exactly what they did. With the medical car unable to access the circuit due to Schouten’s car being in the way, the red flag was flown. Schouten was ejected from the circuit, and the race was eventually resumed, though due to the lack of time to run many more laps, it only gave half points. Schouten would be excluded from race one and did not start race two.
I have never seen that sort of sabotage and bitterness during a race…
07. TAKI INOUE (1995, F1, MONACO/HUNGARY)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 5TH
Formula One driver Taki Inoue really didn’t have a very good 1995.
During the season, he was struck by the course car not once, but twice. First up was at Monaco during practice. The Footwork suffered a failure, and a flatbed lorry started taking him back to the pits, with a towrope towing the car behind it and its nose just atop the flatbed itself. Out of nowhere, the safety car, a Renault Clio who according to autosport was driven by Jean Ragnotti, a rallyman, with current FIA President Jean Todt in the passenger seat, rounded the corner and struck the Footwork in the back. The crash lifted the footwork up and sent it onto its lid. Taki had undone his belts and his helmet, though he still kept his helmet on. The crash ended up dumping him partially out of the car, dealing him a concussion and several other injuries. The FIA reviewed the incident and blamed neither Ragnotti or Inoue, and said that they would negotiate damages with Footwork. Inoue was allowed to use his second car in qualifying, but he chose to skip qualifying and only run the race itself, which didn’t last very long as the Footwork blew up early on.
Things only got worse for Inoue at the Hungaroring later that year. The car caught fire during the race and he pulled to the side of the road, looking to fetch a fire extinguisher. Once he found one, he ran back, failing to notice the presence of an approaching course car. Oops.
Inoue is retired now, and he’s more than willing to make fun of himself on social media.
06. TREE FALLS OVER (2010, BATHURST 12H, BATHURST)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 3RD
Bathurst is one of the most exciting circuits in the world. Between long straights leading into sharp turns and sweeping esses with heavy elevation changes and little runoff, navigating the Mount Panorama Circuit is one of the biggest accomplishments by any drivers.
Rain marred the 2010 Bathurst 12 Hour, the last edition of the race before they switched from production cars to sports cars. About 40% of the race was spent behind the safety car either due to crashes or heavy rain.
Around hour seven of the race, a red flag was suddenly warranted. Drivers scrambled to find out what was wrong, and soon found the issue: a tree had come down at the coincidentially named Forrest’s Elbow, a turn named many years prior when motorcycle racer J. Forrest scraped his elbow away in the 1940s. Thankfully no one was injured, and the only damage was to a spectator’s vehicle according to drive.com.au. The tree was removed with a chainsaw, which delayed the race by an hour.
The 2009 edition of the Bathurst 12h completed 239 laps at the end. The 2010 edition, through all its delays, only finished 202.
05. MONTOYA HITS THE JET DRYER (2012, NASCAR CUP, DAYTONA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 8TH
The 2012 Daytona 500 was bizarre. A race that had never been delayed by rain was pushed off until Monday night at 19:00, and then things only got stranger from there.
Around lap 160, David Stremme’s car blew up, spilling fluids everywhere. A pit stop cycle was conducted, and Dave Blaney decided to stay out. Little did he know that he’d soon be trying to persuade the officials to award him the win in the most important race in his life.
Juan Pablo Montoya was in the pit lane believing that he had a severe vibration. According to a later Yahoo! article, the team briefly looked around the car and could not find an issue, and he was sent back out. It turned out that his concern was warranted, and entering turn three, an axle snapped on the car, sending it straight up the circuit and into the back of a jet dryer, which had been lapping the outside of the circuit in an attempt to clean the fluids spilled. The jet engine in the back was jarred into the air, and it swiftly exploded. The jet fuel was spread down the backing, found a spark in the passing car of Terry Labonte, and began to burn. Juan quickly bailed from the car, and officials quickly helped the jet dryer’s driver, identified as 52-year-old Duane Barnes of Michigan, from his vehicle. Nobody was injured.
NASCAR looked upon the scene and briefly weighed whether they should bother continuing on with the race, but eventually decided that they could complete the show. After a two hour cleanup, the race resumed, and Matt Kenseth swiftly got a jump and never looked back. By the time Kenseth took the checkers, it was 02:00 on Tuesday morning. Blaney finished 15th.
Apparently, Montoya, who has moved to sports cars, is frequently reminded of the incident, with even his sponsors unable to help themselves. Duane Barnes passed away in July 2015 at the age of 55. His cause of death was not given, though it was considered unexpected.
04. WHEEL FALLS OFF CAR AND REMOUNTS ITSELF (BEFORE 2000, HOBBY STOCKS, BAKERSFIELD)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 4TH
Featured on an episode of RealTV was an incredible incident at the Bakersfield Speedway, which saw a hobby stock driver by the last name of Nolan or Noland or something like that spin in turn three and strike a stalled car. The #5 hobby stock suffered a loose wheel in the incident. As he rounded turn four, the wheel came off the frame and rolled alongside his car for a bit, then rolled back into the car, somehow remounting itself. Of course, the tire was deflated, and the #5 was headed to this pits anyway, but it was still an unforgetable sight.
I was never able to find very much on the incident, so it was time to go searching.
First source was the track owner, who said he took over in 2003, and it did not occur during his ownership. RealTV ended after 2001, so it wasn’t 2002. Due to the show getting a new host in the middle of 2000, and not the end of the year, I can fully eliminate 2001, and can all but eliminate 2000, though it’s possible that it was in early 2000 and the incident was shown on RealTV in the summer.
I found a driver name in some results dating back to 2000, running a #5 car and possessing a very similar name to what was audibly heard in the clip, that being Raymond Noland, Sr. The Noland family has raced at Bakersfield for years, with Karl, Sr. and Raymond Noland, Sr. both finding a lot of success in the Hobby Stock division. Their sons, Karl, Jr. and Raymond, Jr., respectively, have picked up the torches.
So while the driver is almost certainly Raymond Noland, Sr., I don’t have a year. If you have any further information, let me know.
03. ROLLING INTO THE SAFETY CAR (2008, DUTCH SUPERCAR, SPA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 2ND
Supercar Challenge, also known as Dutch Supercar Challenge, is one of the most unique series in the world. In it, touring cars, sports cars, and prototypes alike race alongside one another, sometimes in the same class. This can lead to some bizarre, yet exciting, photographs, though this one might be taking it too far.
Shortly after the start of the first race of two during the Spa Euro Races weekend at Spa in 2008, the safety car was warranted when a Porsche spun off course. The safety car, however, ended up picking up the second place ex-DTM Audi of Arjan Van Der Zwaan instead of the leading #109 Marcos Marcorelly of Cor Euser. Euser took off, with the safety car in hot pursuit. After a minute or two of pure confusion, officials eventually instructed the safety car to pull off to the side of the road and let the field pass it by so it could pick up the leader. It did so at Blanchimont.
As the Seat safety car slowed to a crawl, the #138 of Paul Hogarth in a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 slammed on the brakes to avoid him. #416 Joost Den Ouden, running a BMW E36, reacted in the same way, but could not avoid plowing into the back of Hogarth, his car’s brakes being far inferior to that of Hogarth’s. The BMW ramped the Lamborghini, flipped onto its door, slammed the Seat off course and into the tire wall, and did several rolls before coming to rest on its door. After a few seconds, the #333 Marcos Mantis of José Bermudez De Castro spun around in avoidance, only for the #323 BMW Z3 V8 of Willy Angenent to pile into the Mantis, soon followed by another, unidentified BMW. A third BMW, the #308 BMW Compact driven by Laurens Gooshouwer, then plowed headlong into the back of the Mantis with incredible violence. Amazingly, no one was injured, and the driver of the Seat quickly scrambled over the barriers. The race was abandoned shortly thereafter, with Euser being awarded the win.
02. CRASHING THE PACE CAR (1971, USAC, INDIANAPOLIS)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 1ST
In 1971, muscle cars were selling poorly, and no one wanted to provide a pace car for the Indianapolis 500. Enter Eldon Palmer, an Indianapolis dealer who headed a local effort to provide the track with several vehicles to choose from. They chose an open top Dodge Challenger out of the lot, and Eldon was given the position as its driver in return.
Eldon practiced his pace car run the day before, and he decided to set down a marker to indicate when to brake. No one knows what the marker was or if there even was one, but come race day a marker wasn’t there. Not helping the fact was that, apparently, Eldon believed that he would have to beat the field to the line. What he thought would happen if he failed to do so is unknown.
On race day, Eldon, Tony Hulman, ABC broadcaster Chris Schenkel, and special ride-along guest John Glenn all hopped into the pace car and led the field around. As poleman Peter Revson held the inside of the front row and waited for the green, Eldon accelerated down the pit lane, reaching 125mph. He noticed that his marker was not where he thought it was, and mashed the brakes. The Dodge slid sideways and plowed over a photographer’s stand, in an incident that didn’t even warrant a yellow. Many of the photographers on the stand were injured, but amazingly, no one was killed. Schenkel was badly shaken and sat out the broadcast, but did not suffer any broken bones or sprains. Hulman twisted an ankle. Palmer and Glenn were unhurt.
After this, officials decided to solely use professional drivers. Eldon eventually sold off the Challenger, which was restored and as of 2014 is in good condition. Eldon Palmer passed away in 2016, at the age of 87.
01. THE GIMLI GLIDER (1983, WINNIPEG SPORTS CAR CLUB, GIMLI)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 6TH
On July 23rd, 1983, Air Canada Flight 143 took off from Montreal for Edmonton, with a stopover in Ottawa, with 69 aboard.
Canada had recently begun to switch from Imperial to Metric, and Air Canada had just purchased a few Boeing 767s, which used Metric instead of Imperial. According to the National Post, the computer that calculated how much fuel was needed was out of commission, so the ground crew had to calculate by hand.
Jet fuel’s volume depends on the temperature, so it was impossible to know them by heart. The ground crew checked their papers and saw that the conversion factor to kilograms at current temperature was 1.77, so they multiplied the factor by the amount of liters aboard for the current fuel load, subtracted the result from how much fuel in kilograms was needed for how much fuel to add, and divided that result by 1.77 to get the amount of fuel they needed to add. These equations led the ground crew to believe that they only needed to add 5000 liters to the about 8000 already in the tanks.
However, 1.77 was actually the conversion factor for liters into pounds. The actual conversion factor for liters into kilograms was 0.803, and they actually needed 20000 liters, meaning they only had fuel for half the flight. The pilots doublechecked and found the conversions to be sound, again using the incorrect factor.
Over western Ontario, the inevitable happened. The plane ran out of fuel in mid-flight, forcing the pilot to glide. By a stroke of luck, he had been trained as a glider, and his co-pilot, upon recognizing that they couldn’t get to Winnipeg, suggested the base where he’d been trained, Gimli, Manitoba. He was unaware that it had since been decommissioned, and had become a race track.
While the crowds lined up to watch the start of an open wheel race, the hulking behemoth came in for an emergency landing. The pilot had not only gotten to Gimli, something Air Canada’s finest were unable to duplicate in a simulator, but he had put the plane on the ground without injury, just a few hundred feet from the race track’s guardrail.
Gimli Motorsports Park’s still open, and hasn’t changed very much over the years. The Glider plane itself has been disassembled, though if you’d like you can purchase a little piece of the plane in the form of a trinket online.
Well, that’s the end of that. Nothing beats a plane coming in during a race, eh? Thank you for being so patient with me, and it’s great to finally have this list over and done with. If you are curious as to why something was not included, let me know and I’ll tell you if I considered it and why it wasn’t included, or if I completely forgot about it, because with a list this big there’s bound to be something for me to forget.
Now before I end this, here’s a bonus entry. Due to the circumstances surrounding it I could not include it (the subject of the incident was killed and it occurred after the race’s completion), but it’s just too strange to not mention. So, I decided I’d talk about it at the end. If I could include it, it probably would have slotted in in around 9th or so. Well, thanks for reading through this monstrosity, and I’ll leave you with this bonus entry. See you later!
00. CRAZED MAN ENTERS THE SPEEDWAY (1991, CART, INDIANAPOLIS)
NEW TO ‘LIST’
Early in the morning on Wednesday, May 29th, 1991, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had just held the 75th Running of the Indianapolis 500, and permanent and civilian employees alike had gathered to clean the track up. However, they had an unexpected guest.
Stephen C. White, a 31-year-old self employed carpenter, entered the speedway through a gate, presumably by a track worker who believed that White, driving a ’79 GMC C/K, was a temporary worker who was there to help out, of which there were apparently a few hundred. Instead, White began to do several hot laps of the speedway in the old truck, waving and smiling along the way according to The Indianapolis Star. He completed about four laps before Luther Wray, a speedway foreman, drove a Dodge Caravan onto the circuit and began waving White down. White instead veered towards the Caravan and collided with it at about 100mph. Wray avoided injury by darting towards and climbing the catchfence, but White died on impact.
Though toxicology reports appear to have not been made public, White was stated to be a manic depressive on medication who had last been accounted for the night prior. Police theorized that this was a suicide attempt on the part of White.
19. THE GATES AT BRISTOL (1990 AND 2002, NASCAR BUSCH, BRISTOL)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 42ND
Probably one of the more horrifying kinds of accident in motorsports is when the car gets cut in half. This is very rare, but it has happened, usually occurring when a car hits an unsecured gate or gets struck especially hard.
Bristol Motor Speedway knows this too well.
In 1990, Michael Waltrip made contact with Robert Pressley during the Busch race and shot up into the turn two wall. The car struck an improperly secured gate and plowed the end of the barrier, sawing the car in two. It was a tense couple of moments, but miraculously Michael stepped out of the car, and he was all right.
During practice in 2002, Mike Harmon hit the same gate at a more glancing angle rather than Waltrip’s more straight-on angle. Harmon’s car burst open, and Harmon was left exposed to oncoming traffic. Johnny Sauter piled into the wreckage, coming about a foot away from hitting Harmon directly. According to expeditersonline, Sauter was convinced he had just killed Harmon, but was eventually calmed down and told otherwise. Apparently, the hit was so close to the driver’s compartment that officials later found Harmon’s steering block in what was left of Sauter’s car. Harmon was battered and bruised, but all in all okay.
Tracks are slowly moving away from gates and are beginning to start using to use underground tunnels to get from the outside of the track to the inside. Due to Bristol’s very compressed nature, track owners were reluctant to make the transition, but when they saw the alternative…
During a combined sports and touring car race at the then-new Slovakiaring in 2010, driver Marcel Kusin stalled his BMW on the track, warranting a safety car. The drivers were told to slow and get in one lane, but for some reason several drivers decided to both speed and run whichever lane they wanted.
Poland’s Radoslaw Kordecki, piloting a Ferrari 430 GT3, ended up being in the same lane as the stopped BMW and veered hard to the left in an attempt to avoid a terrible collision. He successfully dodged the BMW, but not the guardrail.
The Ferrari vaulted the barrier and did several rolls before coming to rest in a fiery heap of scrap. The safety crews were on scene within 25 seconds, and they quickly got to work on getting Radoslaw out of the car. Kordecki was conscious and alert, having suffered second degree burns and a concussion according to Nový Cas, and within a few minutes he was off to a local hospital. He declined treatment beyond what was given in the emergency room and headed home. Kordecki has since switched to racing Porsches.
17. BLOW UP DOLL (1983, IMSA, SEBRING)
NEW TO LIST
Sebring was…bizarre in its early years.
I could honestly fill this entire list with Sebring hijinx. But I’m only going to include one incident per race on this list with the exception of Indy, and so I have to abide by the rule. So I chose the most bizarre of what I could find.
1983 was one of the stranger years for the 12 hour race. Between someone stealing the pace car to buy groceries, a man selling spectators firewood which would promptly be confiscated upon entry to the circuit, temperatures so unseasonably cold that some fans dismantled a wooden shack for firewood, a few drivers (Hurley Haywood included) getting lost while navigating a new section of the runways and driving into a cow pasture, a safety car period so an overloaded fuel truck could cross the track, and a drunk man wandering onto the circuit while apparently looking for his dog, I had many choices in 1983 alone, but eventually settled with this one:
Partway through the race, one of the Porsche 935s stalled and needed to be towed back to the pits. During the towing process, several fans took it upon themselves to steal bits off the car, as was once traditional at Le Mans. What wasn’t traditional was the fact that, according to shiftinglanes, the unnamed team found that a blowup doll in the car when it was returned to the pits.
At the end of the 12 hours, it was the Wayne Baker owned Class GTO Porsche 934 of all things in victory lane after all the GTPs ran into problems, which, frankly, sums up a wild race perfectly.
16. HAIL AT THE NURBURGRING (2016, VLN, NURBURGRING)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 7TH
The Nurburgring Nordschleife is one of the trickiest tracks in existence, and is supremely difficult even in the dry. In the wet, it becomes a horror show for the drivers.
In the hail, well…
The 2016 24h Nurburgring saw well over two hundred starters as is the norm, from Ferraris to Ford Fiestas and everything in between. Not even an hour into the race, a rainstorm began, which soon turned to hail. The storm was extremely fierce, and it caused many drivers to go slipsliding off the track, including all of the TCR cars, which had been invited to take part for the first time. The race was red flagged for about four hours as the conditions continued to only get worse, as a massive sheet of what looked like plastic began to coat the track. It was some of the strangest weather ever seen during a race, and it ruined what could have easily been a distance-record setting race. Even still, the race eventually ended in a record as Mercedes swept the top four spots.
15. TRAVERSO WINS WHILE ON FIRE (1988, TC2000, GENERAL ROCA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 16TH
Argentine racing is wild, as drivers frequently are aggressive and willing to dump other drivers for position. Frequent high speed sectors and a very relaxed damage policy can lead to some amazing moments.
During the TC2000 touring car race at the General Roca circuit in 1988, a pair of Renault Fuegos of José Maria Traverso and Silvio Oltra were the main pair dueling for first in this race, which was only the second race of the year, and they put on a whale of a show.
Four laps from the end, a fire began under Traverso’s car. The fire, which according to carburando began in the car’s exhaust area, only got worse as time went on. As Oltra trailed behind, he began to notice something piling up on his windshield, which turned out to be Traverso’s lubricant being thrown from the exhaust. Traverso knew something was wrong immediately with smoke permeating through the cockpit to the point that he had to lower a window, but Traverso was unaware of the severity of the fire until the last lap, when the fire itself spread to the outside of the car. With his lead beginning to evaporate, Traverso started steering with his head out the window, and even then the smoke was by this point so bad that he had to guess his braking points. Nonetheless, Traverso, who would go on to win the title that year, was able to hang on by about a car length.
The fire was eventually credited to an exhaust modification made by the team, which caused the car to not use all of the available lubricant. The battle lives on even to this day, with one article calling it a battle so great that the drivers ascended to godhood.
And yes, I get the irony of the car being a Renault Fuego.
14. ADRIAN RUGGERI’S CRASH (2000, PROMOCIONAL 850, MAR DEL PLATA)
NEW TO LIST
We remain in Argentina for an incident you’ve probably seen on Whacked Out Sports. Keep in mind that there was so little information available for this one that I actually had to use Youtube comments for information, which I then cross-referenced, so I apologize if anything is off.
The Promocional 850 championship for Fiats is one of Argentina’s many series. During the finale at Mar Del Plata in 2000, driver Adrian Ruggeri was on track to win both the race and the title, and decided to begin celebrating down the home straight by waving his hand out the window. This turned out to be a bad idea.
Ruggeri lost control of the car and struck the wall, immobilizing it just a few meters before the finish line and costing Ruggeri both possible accolades. Things only got worse for Ruggeri, who was apparently intimidating another driver who had celebrated in this manner before and hadn’t crashed. He got out and began pushing the car across the line. This was a perfectly legal move, believe it or not, however he would later be disqualified for pushing his car without a helmet. I, uh, don’t think a helmet would have done much, considering Ruggeri likely left his brain at home…
13. BUDDY BAKER’S STRETCHER ROLL (1968?, STREET STOCKS?, SMOKY MOUNTAIN)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 13TH
This one’s a classic.
The event that transpired is often placed in either 1967 or 1968, and was likely a local event since the driver involved, Buddy Baker, was asked to race by the track owner, though it may well have been a Grand National event. In any case, Baker was leading an event at the then-paved Smoky Mountain Raceway in Tennessee when a tire blew in turn three, sending him hard into the outside wall. Shaken but not stirred with the exception of a few busted ribs, Baker was only just collecting his thoughts when two track workers, who according to the book Then Junior Said To Jeff were remembered by Baker as Bubba and Barney Fife, pulled up in an ambulance, which was actually a repurposed hearse. They extricated Baker headfirst, not even bothering to unclip his harness, and strapped him on a gurney, which they then threw in the back of the ambulance without locking the rear wheels or closing the back door. It wasn’t long before Buddy found himself rolling down the speedway, strapped to a gurney, with oncoming traffic driving by. Just as the ambulance crew noticed they’d lost their load, Buddy rolled off the pavement and into the mud, where the gurney dug in and turned over. When asked if he was all right, Buddy famously replied, “If I ever get off this thing, I am going to kill you.”
12. DE NARDA AND GOUNON CRASH (2015, PORSCHE CARRERA CUP FRANCE, NAVARRA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 10TH
Porsche Carrera Cup is one of several one make series that runs in an assortment of countries. In it, a mix of rich businessmen, journeymen, newcomers and veterans race alongside one another in identical Porsche Carreras.
Porsches, especially the Carreras and the Carrera GT3s, are somewhat notable for their odd shape. They have exposed wheels and a rather bizarre slope on the front end, leading to some strange accidents, such as this one.
During a Porsche Carrera Cup France at the Navarra circuit in Spain in 2015, Joffrey De Narda was turned around shortly after the start in the very sharp turn three right hander. The #9 car was avoided by most of the oncoming cars, but the #169 of Jules Gounon could not avoid him, leading to the #169 climbing atop the #9 car’s front end and coming to stop atop De Narda. De Narda’s car’s roof held perfectly, and De Narda was able to escape without injury. Gounon was helped out of his car, and though he appeared unhurt, he later revealed to have suffered two broken vertebrae that would take him out for a little. Joffrey spent 2017 still in Porsche Carrera Cup France, while Jules is off to Blancpain GT in 2018.
11. EVERYONE RUNS OUT OF FUEL (2017, SOUTH EAST ASIA FORMULA 4, SEPANG)
NEW TO LIST
Juuuust missed out on the top ten.
The South East Asia Formula 4 series is one of many, many Formula 4 series dotting the globe. The league mostly races in Malaysia and Thailand, with occasional trips to the Philippines or Indonesia.
After Romain Grosjean’s strange accident during practice for the final Malaysian Grand Prix in 2017, track repairs were necessary, forcing the SEA F4 series to push off a pair of races it had planned that day. Repairs were completed later in the day, giving just enough time for the SEA F4 to run those races.
The first race went over fine, but the second race did not. Due to the compressed time frame in between races, cars were fueled for the two races beforehand instead of being refueled after race one according to autosport. Officials, not used to this, miscalculated how much fuel would be needed.
On lap six of eight, four cars, including Daniel Cao, the race one leader and the leader of race two at the time, all began to stall on the circuit, their fuel tanks dry. Three more cars slowed to a stop on lap seven, and as such Kane Shepherd as the only car running. Shepherd stalled in turn two on the last lap, leaving the safety car on its own to lap the circuit. Kane was originally given the victory, however, when the officials noted their mistake, reverted results to how they were after five laps, meaning Cao was instead the winner.
With high-level racing becoming more and more demanding and expensive, it’s becoming more and more rare to see journeymen who worked low paying jobs during the week spending their weekends racing in the top leagues, with ARCA usually serving as the upper limit nowadays. But there was a day in which America’s workers and laborers could race in the Cup Series and in Indycar, maybe even both, on the weekend. One of these journeymen was Bruce Jacobi.
Born on June 23rd, 1935 in Salem, Indiana as the first of two children of Fred and Helen Jacobi, Harold Bruce Jacobi got his start on the short tracks of Indiana before eventually moving to the USAC Champ Cars. Jacobi was a privateer, going to smaller teams and bringing their cars home. He was never quick, but he could finish. Jacobi attempted 74 races between 1960 and 1970, qualifying for 38 of them. His best finish was at Springfield in 1970, where he finished fourth, and out of the 38 races he made, never ran more than five for the same team.
Jacobi, however, never qualified for the Indianapolis 500, despite six attempts. He failed to qualify in 1962, 1963, and 1966, did not make an attempt in 1967, failed to qualify in 1970, and withdrew in 1973. In the meantime, Jacobi traveled the country, finding rides and running whatever races he could find. From Pennsylvania to California, Jacobi left his mark every which way. In the meantime, Jacobi kept busy with employment as a carpenter.
It was off to NASCAR in 1975, where Jacobi would remain for the next couple of years. Out of 20 races, Jacobi took three top tens, all in 1975, where he ran part time for Opal Voight. This would be Jacobi’s only part time season in NASCAR.
After that, Jacobi hopped between teams and raced in NASCAR every once in awhile while continuing to race back home and all over. In one of these rides, Bruce suffered one of the most violent NASCAR crashes of the 1970s.
During last-chance qualifying for the 1977 World 600, Rick Newsom lost control of his car off of turn four and was blindsided by Jacobi, running the #78 Chevrolet for Tom Goff. Jacobi’s car went airborne and rolled violently end over end down the chute. Despite an impact so hard that it ripped Newsom’s engine out of his car and sent it spinning down the track, Jacobi escaped with minor injuries. Newsom was treated for a foot injury.
This crash, in fact, summarizes Jacobi’s career. He was never a very lucky driver. Wife Yada Jacobi, whom Bruce married in 1969 in a ceremony held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself, recalled an instance where Jacobi was struck by a flywheel at the Brickyard and had to be replaced for the main event, with a young man named Mario Andretti taking over. In fact, according to Yada, with whom Bruce had three children, there was an instance where Bruce was pronounced dead after a crash at a race track in Pennsylvania, only to give a worker a little kick while being wheeled to the morgue. Yet Jacobi loved racing so much that he would sometimes race on a carpenter’s wage. The risks of racing never seemed to faze Jacobi.
Bruce entered Speedweeks 1983 rideless, and decided to head to the speedway to try his luck on picking up a ride. There he came across Bob Meazell, who owned a #05 Colonial Motors/All American Homes Pontiac Grand Prix. Bob needed a driver, as he wasn’t confident in piloting a Pontiac, and the Wednesday before the 500, and only one day before the qualifying races, the two agreed that Bruce would drive the car. On lap 5 of the 50 lap first duel, Bruce was running towards the back on his own when the car broke loose. The exact cause of the crash is unknown, though many drivers reported that it had been extremely windy that day, and that they actually were having their cars lifted off the ground a little. In any case, the #05 spun into the infield off of turn two and went airborne before proceeding to viciously cartwheel through the grass.
The car rolled front over back, back over front, several times through the infield before eventually coming to rest on its wheels near the earth embankment. Jacobi was removed from the car unconscious and was swiftly transported to the hospital with critical brain injuries, likely caused by a partial failure of the roll cage.
Jacobi spent some time in Halifax Hospital before eventually being transported to a nursing home in Indianapolis. He regained partial consciousness sometime thereafter, and would be in this state for four years, his mobility having been severely compromised, though not lost entirely. Yada Jacobi, who had run a few endurance races herself in the 1960s, was frequently at his bedside, and while Bruce never fully regained consciousness, his condition deteriorated when Yada wasn’t at his side. “I think we have a much deeper, more understanding relationship now, although it’s hard to describe.”, she told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Bruce Jacobi passed away on February 4th, 1987 in the Methodist Hospital at Indianapolis, aged 51. Some of Bruce’s racing memorabilia is stored at the Stevens Museum in Salem, Indiana, serving as a reminder of the days when a laborer’s dream to one day race in the top American series could come true.
“Jacobi Escapes Fire in Charlotte Crash”, May 28th, 1977 issue of The Tennessean
“The wife of gravely injured Bruce Jacobi says her…”, February 23rd, 1983 issue of UPI
“Dying driver was excited about Daytona, wife says”, February 24th, 1983 issue of the Arizona Republic
“A racer’s wife copes with tragedy”, February 22nd, 1983 issue of The Orlando Sentinel
“Jacobi Draws Strength From His Wife, YaDa”, July 4th, 1984 issue of the Daytona Beach News-Journal
“Bruce Jacobi Nearly Dies Of Pneumonia”, February 16th, 1984 issue of the Daytona Beach News-Journal
27. TODD SZEGEDY AND THE ORANGE (2004, NASCAR BUSCH, CHICAGOLAND)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 49TH
The Busch race at Joliet in 2004 was…weird. Be it Bobby Hamilton Jr. on pole or midfielder Justin Labonte scoring the win when the leader ran out of fuel, this was a weird, weird race. But possibly the strangest bit came during qualifying.
NASCAR Modified regular Todd Szegedy hopped up to the Busch Series to make a couple of runs in 2004, and was wrapping up his first of two qualifying laps when he came across a massive orange rolling across the track. The large inflatable orange, which according to Online Athens weighed about sixty pounds and was thirty feet in diameter, was supposed to help advertise the race’s sponsor, Tropicana Twister. It sure did much more than advertise…
Szegedy was fielded off the track, and the orange, which had snapped off its tethering in high winds, eventually deflated when it pierced the barbs of the catchfencing in turn one. Qualifying was further delayed by rain, but Szegedy eventually did get back on track for a complete redo of his qualifying run, a rare gift for NASCAR to give, as the events which hindered his lap were outside of his control. He timed the car in 12th, but unfortunately crashed out during the event.
26. AMBROSE TIRE ROLL (2001, VIRGIN SUPERCAR, CANBERRA)
NEW TO LIST
The announcement of a race through the Australian capital of Canberra in 2000 was met with very mixed responses, and this response would dog the race until its cancellation after the 2002 running. The track had an interesting layout, which even sent it in front of the Parliament House, and it was well set up, but due to the fact that important streets had to be closed to hold the event, traffic was often through the roof, and all in all it was too expensive for the cost to be justified. Even still, the Canberra 400 is often remembered for a humorous incident that befell Marcos Ambrose during the 2001 running.
Towards the end of one of the round’s doubleheaders, Ambrose threw a back left wheel and pulled his car off to the side of the road and out of harm’s way. The wheel, of course, kept going, and rolled down the chute for quite a distance. The wheel followed a curve in the road, hopped up a street curb at the upcoming chicane, and promptly planted itself atop a tire bundle, seemingly wanting to join its brethren. It was a comedic moment, but Ambrose’s day was done.
25. PEDESTRIAN CAR ON TRACK (2014, VW FUN CUP, BRANDS HATCH)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 24TH
The VW Fun Cup is a one make series for Volkswagen New Beetles that frequently endurance races, one of its big events being a 25 hour race at Spa. It’s a fairly popular series, but it was also host to one of the more terrifying incidents on this list.
In the summer of 2014, a man decided to drive a Volkswagen Polo through a set of gates and onto the circuit at Brands Hatch with who was described as a female friend in the passenger seat, leading to rather audible confusion from the track’s announcer. The incident, which was being filmed from inside the white Polo, led to the four hour endurance being ended about a half hour early. From inside the car, millions of Youtube viewers (two million plus by the end of the year) were able to watch as the Polo’s driver, 22 year old Jack Cottle of East Sussex, navigated the track at high speed with 18 year old Saskia Fisk, the car’s owner, in hysterics across the center console. Zac Copson sat in the backseat filming Jack laugh like a maniac as confused racers passed what they thought to be a safety car.
The race’s early conclusion led to a loss of money amongst the 26 competing cars, which Judge Martin Joy took into account when he sentenced Cottle to prison for eight months in November of 2014. Dailymail reported that Cottle’s social media was full of boasts and stunts involving fast cars.
24. MANHOLE ENDS RACE (1990, WORLD SPORTSCAR, MONTREAL)
NEW TO LIST
With the new engine rules that would do it in on the horizon, 1990’s World Sports-Prototype Championship was declining, but was still doing well. Grids were still very large, and the beautiful Group C cars were still proving to be enjoyable.
In 1990, Mercedes was absolutely dominating the calendar with its pair of brand new C11s, leaving it a race for third for the most part. With a cavalry of mostly Porsches rounding out the grid, the racing was wild and the crowds were at the track in droves.
One of the sleek 962s that ran as part of the grid was a vehicle entered by Switzerland’s Brun Motorsport, a privateer team owned by Walter Brun. The series did run overseas, with one of the overseas races being through the streets of Montreal at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and Brun Motorsport followed the wagon train to Canada with two cars, the #16 of Jésus Pareja and Bernard Santal and the #15 of Harald Huysman and Oscar Larrauri.
As the race passed the halfway point, the Mercedes were as usual leading when a massive crash broke out heading under the bridge on the approach to turn eight. A manhole cover had been sucked up over the course of the event by the field and Pareja was the unlucky one to strike it. The Porsche immediately caught fire and collected two cars, the #16 of teammate Larrauri and the #12 Cougar C24S of Morin – Thuner. Pareja was all right, seen walking away by the TV crew with Larrauri, but the Porsche was a write off. Organizers were concerned about the rest of the manholes, and as such the race was ended early, with half points awarded.
23. THE ENTIRE START (1997, IRL, INDIANAPOLIS)
NEW TO LIST
The standard rule of the Indianapolis 500 is for 33 cars, no more, no less. It’s how it always been and will be. The rule for the year was that the top 25 in owner’s points were locked in as long as they were fast enough in pre-qualifying practice, and eight drivers would race their way in. Only 23 of the top 25 showed up to Indy, leaving ten spots open.
The fight between USAC’s policies and the IRL’s marred time trials. USAC, who believed in the fastest 33, allowed entries which ran backup cars to be locked in, which was against the policy, and the IRL was already looking to dump the 25/8 rule. At the end of qualifying, the grid of 33 was set, yet USAC was not pleased that two cars piloted by Lyn St. James and Johnny Unser were not part of the grid despite being faster than several locked in cars. It was ruled that they would be added to the grid for a field of 35, the second time since 1933 that the grid had not been of 33 cars, the first being 1979.
When the race was eventually started on Memorial Day, the 35 cars began to pace the track, only for some wild events to cause several to retire before the start. Stéphan Grégoire, Alfonso Giaffone, and Kenny Bräck crashed during pace laps, and Sam Schmidt, Alessandro Zampedri, and Robbie Groff all suffered from mechanical woes. Of these six, only Groff continued, leaving 30 cars to take the start. The race was eventually postponed further to Tuesday, where further bizarre rulings and strange officiating by USAC spelled the end for the organization’s partial hold on the Indy 500.
22. PETER BRAID’S CRASH (1949, FORMULA 3, BLANDFORD)
NEW TO LIST
Racing in 1949 was extremely unique. Few safety measures, frequent injuries and little care for wellbeing meant racers were more daredevils than anything else. Tracks had few safety measures, and were rarely permanent layouts. One of these circuits was Blandford, an army camp on the southwestern British coast.
During a meet at the circuit in 1949, driver Gordon Woods spun into an old bus shelter, destroying it and dealing him injuries he would later die from. The meet went on.
Formula 3 cars were very new at the time, rather sleek vehicles powered by bike engines that were popular amongst the masses. One of the new cars’ drivers was Major Peter K. Braid, who according to a WordPress blog by the name of Graham’s World had found much success in his few months of racing. During the event, Braid lost control of the car and slid straight into the demolished bus shelter, leading to a spectacular accident.
Braid’s Cooper vaulted the destroyed bus shelter, flew over a fir tree, and landed atop the roof of the battalion headquarters right side up. Braid stepped out of the vehicle with only bruises, and the Cooper remained atop the headquarters until day’s end. Blandford would continue to see races until the early 1960s.
21. J.M. REIS’ CRASH (2005, FORMULA TRUCK, CAMPO GRANDE)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 15TH
Tractor trailer racing is popular not only in Europe but also Brazil. In fact, before finances ended it after 2016, Formula Truck was one of Brazil’s most popular series, though it was also the most destructive.
During the start of the race at Campo Grande in 2005, driver Fabiano Brito got a very poor jump. Jonatas Borlenghi and Roberval Andrade both saw opportunities to gain position at the same time and their forward dash ended in Brito being spun in front of everyone.
According to campeones.com.ar, 19 of the 23 trucks in the race were involved and eight trucks were completely written off. Heber Borlenghi vaulted the back of another vehicle and went airborne, landing on the pit wall and sending chunks of the barrier and barrier decor into the pit area. The truck took off again, landing on the truck of Jose Mariá Reis and obliterating it.
The race was immediately halted and later cancelled. The broadcast of the race ended up turning into an episode of Rescue 911, where drivers, doctors, marshals and even the President of Formula Truck himself assisted in pulling Reis from the destroyed cab. It took 45 minutes, but eventually Reis was pulled from the vehicle with a busted kneecap.
This crash would actually prove influential in determining the season’s champion. Points leader Wellington Cirino had been injured during practice at the prior race at Londrina, but with the round at Campo Grande abandoned, he lost fewer points than he could have. Wellington would win that year’s title despite only competing in six of the eight completed races.
20. THE MERCEDES CLR (1999, FIA GT, LE MANS)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 25TH
By 1999, Mercedes was quite comfortably back at Le Mans after returning to the track a few years prior, having left after the 1955 disaster. For 1999, Mercedes constructed the Mercedes CLR, a replacement to the CLK GTR. An issue with the aerodynamics, however, allowed for air to almost built up in pockets when going over a hill, of which there are a few at Le Mans, instead of being properly dispersed. Coupled with slipstream, this allowed for the car to easily take flight. During Happy Hour on Thursday, Mark Webber took to the skies down Courbe Du Golf, the chute between Mulsanne and Indianapolis, in the lead car, which was a complete writeoff after apparently going into the trees. Webber emerged from the car unhurt, and for reasons which remain confidential amongst Mercedes according to Road and Track, the team pressed onward.
On Saturday, during a warmup, the chute became a launch pad for the CLR again, with Webber again in the driver’s seat. The car landed inverted on the circuit, and though Webber was all right, the car was promptly withdrawn. Again, the team, still unable to find the issue, pressed onwards with two cars. On lap 75 of the main event, Peter Dumbreck proved that this was probably a bad idea.
Dumbreck flew over the barriers and into the woods down the Courbe Du Golf, thankfully without injury. The remaining Mercedes was quickly withdrawn, and after the issues were identified, most of the CLRs were disposed of with a car crusher, though at least one survives for vintage racing.
33. HANS HEYER ILLEGALLY STARTS (1977, F1, HOCKENHEIM)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 35TH
Failure to qualify is one of the most frustrating occurrances in racing. The idea of showing up and not getting anything for your trouble is pretty disheartening, which is why sometimes drivers don’t take it very well.
Hans Heyer, a driver known for his antics and entertaining driving style, was unwilling to remain on standby as a substitute driver when Formula One stopped by Hockenheim in 1977. He had qualified 27th in a year old Penske chassis, and as such was third on the substitute driver list, so three drivers had to be unable to race for him to get his chance on the track.
A first lap crash involving Alan Jones and Clay Reggazoni led to a fair bit of confusion amongst the competitors, during which Heyer’s team fired up the car’s engine and he took to the circuit. It took the officials nine laps for them to notice Heyer was on the circuit, and by the time a black flag was flown to get him off the track, Heyer was already ‘out’ of the race with a blown gearbox. This would be Heyer’s only start, if you could call it that, though the winner of the 1974 European Touring Car Championship would find further success elsewhere.
32. MAYLANDER HITS A POTHOLE (2004, DTM, SHANGHAI)
NEW TO LIST
DTM has wanted to race elsewhere for years. It hasn’t always gone too well.
For whatever reason, DTM and China just go hand in hand, and DTM has attempted several races in the country. In 2004, DTM made its first trip to China for a non-championship round through Shanghai’s streets, which according to Silhouet was supposed to act as a prelude to the inaugural Grand Prix of China that year. On the first lap of the first of two 30 minute races, Bernd Maylander, who is currently the safety car driver in Formula One, found himself coming to a sudden stop right out of the gate. According to motorsport.com, Maylander had no idea what had sent his Mercedes airborne at first, but found it to be a manhole when he stepped out of his car.
The race went no further, and most of the afternoon was dedicated to welding down the remaining manhole covers. Maylander’s car was too badly damaged to take the start of the second race a few hours later. Oddly enough, manhole covers would be an issue at the new permanent circuit the next year, with both Formula One’s Juan Pablo Montoya and V8 Supercar’s Mark Winterbottom colliding with covers during weekends. DTM seemingly found an audience in China, and returned to another temporary street circuit in Shanghai in 2010. They were planning on returning to the country for a street race through Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, in 2014, but it was cancelled and they have not been back since.
31. FIRE LORRY ROLLS (2011, TRUCK RACING, BRANDS HATCH)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 31ST
Tractor trailer racing is spectacular.
These big beasts need to have their speeds limited simply due to their weight, but are nonetheless pretty incredible to watch. Due to matching top speeds, passes have to be done in the corners. All trucks have water tanks for water to be sprayed on their brakes, and if those tanks run out, the brakes usually shatter within the next two minutes. But sometimes these trucks aren’t the big highlight.
During a tractor trailer race at Brands Hatch circuit in 2011, a Ford Ranger was the one putting on the show. During the event, a tractor trailer ended up on its door in Graham Hill Bend. With the driver still in the cab, several safety vehicles began rushing to the scene. One of the lorries rushing to the scene was a white Ford Ranger, with two occupants. Several fans were filming the rescue effort, only for all of them to jar their cameras towards Paddock Hill.
Seemingly slipping in diesel oil, the Ranger spun out and hooked over itself, sending the two men inside the truck for a ride and destroying the equipment in the back. The truck slid on its roof down Paddock Hill Bend before eventually flipping back onto its wheels. According to a post made to TenTenths, the occupants of the Ranger were injured, but walked away under their own power.
The Battle Of Trenton was an indoor midget race held in February and December of both 2014 and 2016 in the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton. The 2016 runnings were two of the very few races I have ever actually been in the audience for, as few tracks are in my area. The entry list for the December 2016 running was poor and attendance was low, so organizers decided to change things up and switched from pavement to dirt for 2017. This meant few major names, but many more entries.
Being as the track is a tenth of a mile, there’s little room to move, and as such the safety crews use UTVs. However, it seemed one marshal zoned out, and as such, about halfway through the 40-lap main, a UTV hauling a flatbed crossed the track, from the pit area on the outside of turn three to the infield, during green flag conditions, almost being obliterated by leader Alex Bright. This moment made the list mostly due to the ridiculousness of a UTV being used as a transport vehicle at a race track instead of a pickup. It makes perfect sense, but it’s still a sight to behold.
The announcer, I suppose trying to save face, never mentioned the cause of the ensuing caution. I have no idea what happened with the marshal, but Alex Bright ended up losing the race at night’s end to Long Island’s Whitey Kidd III.
29. GLENN KINNERSLEY ROLLS ON A TOW ROPE (2003, FORMULA PALMER AUDI, SNETTERTON)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 28TH
Besides its pretty amazing to say name, Formula Palmer Audi was for the most part a fairly basic and moderately successful league for rising stars that ran for about fifteen years. It produced names like Justin Wilson, Andy Priaulx, and James Jakes. Glenn Kinnersley is remembered, though, for a different reason.
All right, onto the moment. Glenn Kinnersley found his car in the runoff during a round at Snetterton in 2003. With the car stalled, Kinnersley was forced to wait while the towing crew got ready to take his car off the circuit, during which he stayed in the car.
With a tow rope attached to the open wheeler, officials began to give the towing crew instructions. During this time, Kinnersley’s car began to be dragged sideways, something the marshals didn’t notice, being preoccupied in coaching the tow truck driver on where to go. Eventually, Kinnersley’s car was dragged so much to the side that it started to dig in, and when the marshals did eventually notice, it was too late.
Kinnersley’s car flipped in the runoff, overturning onto its lid and striking the marshal walking in front of his car, who was seemingly uninjured. Kinnersley himself was not injured, but the crash sure left him with a much larger repair bill than he had before.
28. FULLER AND VÉLEZ COLLIDE (1994, IMSA, PORTLAND)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 14TH
Portland International Raceway is an interesting circuit. Built upon the site of what was once a town before it was destroyed by a flood in the 1940s, this track, situated on an island in the city’s north end, is a flat and quick layout with some very fast sectors. It’s seen major events every now and again, and will be seeing another one in the Indycar Series in 2018.
In 1994, one of the series stopping by was IMSA, where WSC-class competitors Fermin Vélez and Hugh Fuller were the ones on the highlight reel. With eventual winner Jeremy Dale off in the distance, the duel between Fuller’s Spice SC89 Olds and Vélez’s Ferrari 333 SP for second was fierce. Unfortunately, it came to an end on lap 54 of what would eventually be a 75 lap race, when, according to motorsportmagazine, Vélez suffered a misfire entering the Festival Chicane. The late Spaniard’s car slowed up much more than Fuller anticipated, and Fuller, a brave driver with a basis in powerboats, shoved the Ferrari into a spin. When Fuller attempted to get by his rival, the Spice climbed over the top of the Ferrari and turned onto its side.
Fuller wasn’t hurt, and when he climbed out, his first priority was to flip the car back onto its wheels. With the lightweight prototype just barely balancing on its side, rolling it back was a one man job, and within a few seconds, Fuller was headed back to the pits, with Vélez’s damaged Ferrari not far behind. Vélez’s car was too badly damaged to continue, but Fuller continued on in the event, saved by a rainstorm that came shortly after the safety car period for the crash ended. He eventually finished fifth.
Ruben Garcia of South El Monte, California is one such journeyman. According to the LA Times, Garcia started out in 1970 after getting back from Vietnam making $2.50 an hour building motorhomes. In 1985, he was president of R&R Custom Coachworks, Inc., a motorhome distributor that raked in $32 million in 1984. Garcia raced every now and again throughout the 1970s, but when he finally returned to racing in 1984 after a few years off, he immediately found success, finishing third in the 1985 Winston West points with two wins. Garcia was even able to qualify for a few NASCAR Cup races at Riverside.
In 1988, during the very last NASCAR race at Riverside, Garcia drove his #32 Pick-Your-Part Chevrolet Monte Carlo car into the top 20, but on lap 29 of 95, it all came to an end. Something broke and the car veered hard left off of turn nine. The car entered an opening in the barrier and struck an angled steel guardrail protected by a tire wall, which was easily folded by the car. It went through a chainlink fence from there, then collapsed a brick wall with a set of barrels behind it. The car came to a halt against one final barrier protecting the crowd, and Ruben got out of the car unhurt, but he did not start any further Cup or West races after that.
41. MASS DQ AT THE ITALIAN F3 FINALE (2012, ITALIAN F3, MONZA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 21ST
As national and regional Formula Three leagues start to fall by the wayside and Formula Four begins to take over as the go-to for national leagues, the amount of national F3 leagues thin to a point where as of 2017 there are only five: Japan, Brazil, Austria, Australia, and Switzerland, a ‘Formula Three’ league in Britain that actually just runs souped-up F4 cars, and two European leagues, one of which, European Formula Three, will be merging with GP3 in 2019.
Italian F3 concluded a run which had begun in 1964 in 2012, and its last race was rather controversial. Ten cars, two Mygales and eight Dallaras, entered the Monza finale, with Romain Agostini’s Mygale leading with 240 points over a pair of Dallaras, Brandon Maisano, who had 229 and Eddie Cheever III, who had 227. Cheever won race one and was able to gain a few points on Agostini, but then it all went downhill.
For reasons I could never find described beyond ‘technical infractions’, Cheever and Maisano were both disqualified from race two, handing Agostini the championship. It then proceeded to worsen when all eight Dallaras were disqualified from race three. Once again I never found a specific reason, but every Dallara in the field was disqualified, leaving only two cars classified: Romain Agostini and fellow Mygale Nicholas Latifi. What a way to wrap up forty eight years of racing…
40. ARCA FINISHES A RAIN RACE (2010, ARCA, PALM BEACH)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 18TH
As mentioned earlier, ARCA can be a bit of a fail series from time to time. However, it’s actually done something that NASCAR’s top series has never done: run a rain race.
Rain racing is part of motorsports. Every now and again, drivers throw on some rain tires and inch their way around the circuit. Stock cars very, very rarely rain race, however, mostly because it’s almost always only a road course thing. Races like the Daytona 500 can’t be held in the rain, of course. NASCAR has rain raced on an oval once before with its European division at the Tours Speedway, a literal parking lot oval with drainage systems which permit racing in a light shower, and has run a few rain races in the Xfinity Series. The Cup Series has never used rain tires in a race, however. Not including the Elkhart Lake race in 1956, which came in a day where drivers could use almost any kind of tire they wanted as long as the tires were a certain width and height, the most the Cup Series has ever done in the rain is a practice session. Yet ARCA, usually seen as the joke series, ran a rain race at Palm Beach in 2010, and it went over just fine, with Justin Marks bringing home the trophy. Pretty ironic that the lower series accomplishes one of the toughest jobs in motorsports, something the top series has never even tried, isn’t it?
39. A DRIVER GETS TASED (2017, FIGURE EIGHT, ANDERSON)
NEW TO LIST
Racing is heated, but sometimes fights can get out of hand. There was, of course, the fight between Michael Simko and Don St. Denis at the 2006 Glass City 200 at Toledo where Simko dropkicked St. Denis’ windshield, but at a figure eight race at Anderson Speedway in Indiana in 2017, things got even worse.
During a race in mid October, Jeff Swinford and Shawn Cullen were unable to stay off one another, apparently colliding three times during a duel for the top spot. After one last bit of contact, Swinford drove his #3 car straight for Cullen’s stalled #33 vehicle. Swinford drove his car atop Cullen’s nearly crushing Cullen, and Cullen, infuriated, rushed out of his car and began punching Swinford repeatedly for a good thirty seconds, requiring an officer’s interventions.
Cullen was tased by the responding officer, and both drivers were arrested. According to the Associated Press, Cullen was charged with disorderly conduct, and Swinford was charged with misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Despite Cullen being tased, Swinford was the one being hung out to dry, as due to what was seen as a calculated maneuver to both attack Cullen and damage his car further, Swinford will likely never be allowed back to the Anderson Speedway, and was also fined all of the money he earned during all races he ran at the Anderson Speedway in 2017. Cullen was suspended for at least two events for leaving his car before the red flag could be flown. Both were DQ’d from the event as well.
38. REPEATEDLY HITTING THE SAFETY TRUCK (1998, RENAULT MEGANE, ZANDVOORT)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 17TH
Masters of Formula Three’s relevance and necessity has decreased with F3 itself. The race, which is held at Zandvoort, saw 47 entries in 1998 and only 16 in 2016, and wasn’t even held in 2017. However, Zandvoort is a good track choice for the race, with its undulating turns and many sand pits, the track is far from easy.
During a Renault Megane support race during the Masters of Formula Three weekend in 1998, a driver by the surname of Van Der Waals crashed on the end of the second lap after hitting some debris, sending his car airborne, but not injuring him. A local yellow was waved, and a safety truck arrived to assist Van Der Waals, who was standing near the barrier for whatever reason.
Two cars dueling for position entered the last bend, and they both spun out. Van Der Waals hopped over the barrier just in time, and was forced to watch as the pair slammed into the back of the safety truck, knocking it into Van Der Waals’ car and sending the Renault to the inside of the circuit. Another safety truck arrived on scene, only to get rear ended by another spinning car. The first safety truck was then hit hard by a car that just didn’t turn. According to Ritzsite, no injuries were reported, and the race was red flagged and run to completion later that day.
Zandvoort’s social media said that the cause of this crash was a mix of the drivers not respecting the yellow flags and the day’s Meganes being bulkier and much easier to lose control of if the throttle is suddenly lifted.
37. JOHN PRIOR FLIPS AFTER THE RACE (1985, ARCA, DUQUOIN)
NEW TO LIST
Crashes after the race ends are rare, but they do occur, as drivers often still have a rush of adrenaline coarsing through their veins even after the checkered flag falls. Technically, Austin Dillon’s terrible crash at Daytona in 2015 was after the flag, though drivers were still at speed, as Daytona is not somewhere where you can slow down after the race. The one mile dirt oval at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois is not a superspeedway, yet John Prior proved that these accidents can happen anywhere and still be spectacular.
Lee Raymond was class of the field at the 1985 ARCA race at DuQuoin, passing Gary Bettenhausen early and, for the most part, hanging on to the lead for the rest of the 200 mile race. After Bettenhausen fell back, Dean Roper was the one chasing Raymond, though with the exception of a pit stop cycle he never passed him.
John Prior’s #00 and Bob Brevak’s #34, however, were the ones putting on a real show. The pair apparently traded the third spot several times in the last few laps, with Prior prevailing. Prior, a local driver, beat Brevak in a side by side duel, then proceeded to slide right into the turn one guardrail and flip his car after the checkered flag had already flown. Prior was okay.
36. RON FELLOWS’ STRANGE MANEUVER (2011, NASCAR N’WIDE, ELKHART LAKE)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 11TH
When NASCAR takes to Elkhart Lake, everyone wins. They always put on a wonderful show, and unexpected winners are frequently seen, with Nelson Piquet, Brendan Gaughan, the luckless Michael McDowell, and even independent veteran Jeremy Clements possessing victories at the circuit. In 2011, when the race was still a 200 miler rather than its current 180, road racing expert Ron Fellows was hoping to be that surprise winner. So when Justin Allgaier ran out of fuel under the race-ending yellow and Reed Sorenson was slowing down even further, he zoomed on by and was picked up by the pace car. However, when NASCAR reviewed the footage, they eventually gave the win to Sorenson. Why?
You cannot pass under yellow, of course. However, if due to driver neglect, a dry fuel can or mechanical issues, you are free to. There is no need to stay behind a driver who has stalled on the track. Sorenson did slow down, but not by very much, and he quickly got back going. After all, he’d just seen his teammate run out of fuel. Fellows appeared to read the rules too literally, seeing Sorenson slightly slow down and assuming he was out of fuel when he wasn’t. Sorenson was given the win at the end with Fellows second, and Fellows was not penalized further.
Sports cars are interesting to see race. They’re beautiful, sleek, and powerful, but on the other hand, one mistake and a million dollar racer can be lost, a massive hit to the pockets of teams and especially privateers…usually.
Extreme Supercars is a standard sports car series from South Africa in which Ferraris, Lambos, BMWs, and Porsches duel one another, with occasional appearances by Ford GTs, Alfa Romeos and McLarens. One common racer in this series is Craig Jarvis, who according to his own Facebook is a CEO at a company which assists in streamlining the medical billing process.
During a qualifying session at Kyalami in early November 2017, Craig wrapped up his lap and shifted to the inside, where he collided with Johann Engelbrecht’s Porsche GT2 RS. Johann spun his Porsche into the wall, and Craig, who according to Engelbrecht’s team was unaware of Johann’s presence, backed his Ferrari 458 GT3 into the steel guardrail, sending the sleek sports car rolling end over end. Both drivers were okay, but Johann’s Porsche was badly damaged, and Craig’s Ferrari was a write off.
Despite this all, Craig posted to his Facebook within a few days of the crash that he’d acquired a new Ferrari, apparently having received an insurance payout. Insurance? On a Ferrari you use in racing? That’s news to me…
34. TAXBRAIN STEALS JUSTIN PHILPOTT’S CAR (2006, SUPER LATE MODEL, ALTAMONT)
NEW TO LIST
Forgiveness is a privilege to some.
In the mid 2000s, Justin Philpott was one of the up and coming super late model racers in California, running at Altamont and Stockton 99. He eventually caught the eye of tax sorting company Taxbrain. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more, and they decided to steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont Speedway, but no one else, and on August 13, 2006, they executed their plan. According to the East Bay Times, an unnamed actor hopped the fence, got in the car while the Philpotts were celebrating a win, and took off. He did about two or three laps before being stopped by a combination of Justin’s brother and a wrecker backed onto the circuit by track officials.
After a lengthy investigation, undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain, and no charges were filed. Bizarrely, however, Justin Philpott chose to keep Taxbrain for his moving up to the All American Series in 2007. In fact, Philpott, who is still racing in southern California and is still very successful, made one of the strangest moves I have ever seen a racer make. Instead of leaving a sponsor who conducted a stunt that could have easily killed him and his family behind him…
…Justin stayed with Taxbrain for about another five years. So uh…are you sure that’s a good idea, Justin?