50 Most Bizarre Car Racing Moments REDONE (33-28)

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.

Hans_Heyer_2
Credit to pitlane.gr

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.

dtm-shanghai-2004-bernd-maylander-amg-mercedes-benz-clk-dtm-crashes
Credit to Motorsport.com

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.

images (3)
Credit to Hotel Feldberg Riccione

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.

brands-hatch-crash_2049341i
Credit to telegraph.co.uk

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.

30. UTV CROSSES TRACK AT TRENTON (2017, MIDGET RACING, CURE ARENA)

NEW TO LIST

This was one I spotted myself.

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.

DQaAMOMV4AAPRce
Personal photo

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.

0
Credit to UKF1

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.

DFSmmg8h
Screencap

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.

Advertisements

50 Most Bizarre Car Racing Moments REDONE (42-34)

42. RUBEN GARCIA’S CRASH (1988, NASCAR CUP, RIVERSIDE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 41ST

Journeymen are what make racing so enjoyable.

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.

2017-11-27 08.25.43
Credit to Myles Regan

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…

311016_m
Credit to Juzaphoto

 

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.

wintron03
Credit to Red LineNEW 

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.

qpw8guxtqlz2ddys8ruw
Credit to Jalopnik

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.

anderson_fight_1508163183286_68926807_ver1-0_640_480
Credit to RTV6

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.

LV6l7ugh
Screencap

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.

99egz2wh
Screencap

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.

9.1.85 - Raymond Wins ARCA Southern Illinois 200 (bob mays)
Credit to Midwest Racing Archives

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?

9739756-large
Credit to Masslive

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.

35. CRAIG JARVIS’ CRASH (2017, EXTREME SUPERCARS, KYALAMI)

NEW TO LIST

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.

Kyalami-ferrari-crash (1)
Credit to The South African

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…

2010_ntaas_commit_justin_philpott_trophy
Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks

…Justin stayed with Taxbrain for about another five years. So uh…are you sure that’s a good idea, Justin?

50 Most Bizarre Car Racing Moments REDONE (50-43)

Well, we’re back. I decided to redo this list and see what new incidents and bouts of stupidity I could add. Fifty strange, bizarre and wild moments across the racing spectrum. I will not be including drag racing, motorcycles, or rallies simply to ease up on my selections. Maybe I’ll do separate lists for those another day, but for now…let’s get started.

 

50. JIMMY WATTS TIRE INCIDENT (2009, NASCAR CUP, ATLANTA)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 43RD

On lap 69 of the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a tire was spotted rolling out into the quadoval grass by several crewmen during the pit stop cycle. NASCAR’s policy is for crewmen to stay put if this happens, but evidently someone was not listening.

6a00e54f7fc4c58833011168d1679d970c
Credit to Cowboys Corner

By trade a fireman in his late thirties, Jimmy Watts, the gasman for the #47 JTG-Daugherty car of Marcos Ambrose and a NASCAR crewman since at least 1998 according to the LA Times, rushed out to gather the tire and rolled it back to waiting officials. The pit stop cycle was under way, so had he not done this, NASCAR likely would have waited until the tire rolled further towards the track surface to throw the caution. However, with a crew member in the infield, NASCAR was forced to put the race under yellow during the pit stop cycle, trapping several cars a lap down. Watts would be banned for four races, with last updates noting the possibility of further penalties. He was also put on probation for the rest of the year. Watts publicly apologized, and even Marcos Ambrose himself noted that Watts’ decision to fetch the tire was not very smart.

Interestingly, according to motorsport.com, Watts was a fire captain in the city of Charlotte in 2002, and was mourning the loss of a fireman under his watch at the time of the interview. Watts knew tragedy, making this decision to cross the track even less understandable. Watts still works as a firefighter in the Charlotte area, and he still works as a gasman for Front Row Motorsports according to NASCAR’s website.

49. ARCA BRAKES DURING PRACTICE (1995, ARCA, DAYTONA)

NEW TO LIST

During practice for the 1995 ARCA Daytona 200, 1990 ARCA Series champion Bob Brevak, a grizzled veteran making one of his last couple starts in the series, spun his car and backed it into the wall in turn four. The veteran was uninjured, and the red flag was waved on the session as a safety truck arrived on scene.

ARCA is famous for the term ‘ARCA Brakes’, meaning drivers refuse to slow down in a crash. Though mostly falsely attributed to the ARCA Series, there have indeed been many instances of them in the series itself, with the following being a fairly unknown one.

2017-10-08 17.12.21
Credit to the Daytona Beach News Journal

Ron Burchette, an owner driver from North Carolina who mostly ran the big tracks, refused to slow down as he entered the accident scene and shot in between the stalled #34 and the safety truck. Burchette eventually slowed to a stop on the trioval apron, where he was promptly yelled at by the usually level-headed track workers. Brevak would fail to finish the 200, while Burchette, who retired from ARCA after a spectacular crash in the infamous Atlanta race the next year, finished tenth.

48. CRASH UNDER RED (2013, WTCC, MACAU)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 30TH

The World Touring Car Championship has fallen very far over the past couple years, but they’re at least trying to get some viewership and entries back, with the reintroduction of the famous Guia Race of Macau and some new gimmicks such as rallycross-style Joker Laps. But back to Macau, it’s a twisty hillside circuit with a few full speed highway sectors. Over the top of one of these hills was where the field would epic fail in 2013.

Screenshot-2013-11-17-at-17.45.09-680x397
Screencap

During the race, Tom Chilton suffered an exhaust failure on his Chevrolet Cruze and stalled the car at Maternity. Local driver Eurico de Jesus, in a Honda Accord, rounded the blind turn and, unsighted, plowed into the back of Chilton. Franz Engstler stopped his BMW 320 on the track’s outside, and so did Yvan Muller in his Cruze. Macanese driver Felipe de Souza in a Cruze, Hong Konger Charles Ng in a BMW, and Macanese Henry Ho in another BMW all piled in to Muller and Engstler, and the red flag was waved.

Even with the red flag having flown, several drivers seemingly did not care. Yukinori Taniguchi zoomed up the hill and smashed on the brakes, having noticed that the flagmen were putting their yellow flags down. Taniguchi did not hit anyone. Michael Soong and Jo Merszei (#70), on the other hand, were too busy battling to bother slowing down. Soong, a Hong Konger in a Seat Leon, and Merszei, a Macau native in a BMW, crashed into the back at Taniguchi despite the fact that the race had already been red flagged. Despite a second red flag, the race was resumed, with de Jesus, Chilton, Ng, Soong, Merszei, and Taniguchi out of the race.

47. JEAN ALESI JUMP START (2009, SPEEDCAR, BAHRAIN)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 50TH

Speedcars were an intriguing experiment.

speedcar-dubai2
Credit to Automobilsport

In short, the Speedcar Series was a stock car series that ran in Asia for two seasons, 2008 and 2008-09. It was a neat idea, having F1 legends such as Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean Alesi, and Ukyo Katayama race stock cars across the Middle East, but due to finances the series did not last long.

At the series’ final race at Bahrain, the lights seemingly were delayed for whatever reason, and the drivers, performing a rolling start, were forced to stay in line until the race began. Jean Alesi, however, was unwilling to wait and, despite starting in the back, he was leading by turn one, having achieved one of the most blatant jump starts in all of motorsports by zipping by the entire grid before the lights had triggered.

Speedcar Series
Credit to motorsport.com

Alesi would not finish the race, which was won by Vitantonio Liuzzi, very well. The series, organized out of the British Virgin Islands of all places, ran out of money shortly thereafter when its backer pulled out, and that was the end of that.

46. JARED CARLYLE HORSE JUMP (2007, NZV8, PUKEKOHE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 29TH

Being part of a team owned by, according to tentenths, one of the members of AC/DC, isn’t a guaranteed pass for a driver to be very lucky.

55808202
Credit to Getty

Pukekohe Park in New Zealand is really weird. It’s a circuit full of swerves which, with the exception of a hairpin, are all high speed. It also used to be pretty low quality in terms of the circuit itself, possibly stemming from the fact that there’s a steeplechase layout for horses. But all in all, it just wasn’t a high quality circuit. A V8 Supercar famously took out a pole on which a PA transmitter was situated in 2005, warranting a red flag. In 2008, a pileup during the NZV8 race saw one car break one of the gates and four cars get on top of the guardrail, which folded, allowing two of them to go over the wall.

But youngster Jared Carlyle, part of a team apparently owned by one of the AC/DC members, showed just how ridiculous this track once was. He got turned around on the back chute in 2007 and took a wild ride over a horse jump.

hqdefault (2)
Screencap

After 2008, Pukekohe dropped off the V8 schedule, but returned in 2013 as a new and improved facility with proper tire walls, runoff, barriers where needed, and a new chicane at the end of the back chute. It’s stayed on ever since.

45. MAYR-MELNHOF FLIPS IN THE PIT LANE (2011, FIA GT, SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 36TH

Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof, a sports car racer out of Austria, Eugenio Amos, the gentleman racer from Italy who is also the husband of model Margherita Missoni, and HSH Prince Albert Von Thurn Und Taxis, a billionaire leader of one of Germany’s Houses, came together for the 2011 24h of Spa in a Lamborghini Gallardo. Unfortunately, their effort ended just past the second hour.

Spa has two pit lanes, the F1 pit lane, where cars enter off the chicane and exit off of La Source, and the regular pit lane, which is entered off of La Source and exited off of Eau Rouge, with an access area lasting through Radillon. If the event has a large field size, such as the Spa 24h, the pit lanes are combined.

Entering the pit lane too quickly, Mayr-Melnhof slid his car on the wet access road. The car shot across the grass and struck a barrier right in front of the marshals and turning the car onto its door. Mayr-Melnhof was unhurt, but his day was over, and a safety car was warranted.

car_crash_lamborghini_gallardo_lp_600_crash_at_24_hours_of_spa
Credit to GTspirit

Mayr-Melnhof ran in the Blancpain Sprint Series in 2017, while Amos and Von Thurn Und Taxis spent the year racing where they pleased. I suppose when you have money…

44. D.C. CROWDER STEALS THE PACE CAR (1986, NASCAR CUP, TALLADEGA)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 47TH

This one’s famous.

When the command to start engines at the 1986 Winston 500 was given, not everyone had stepped into their cars. Specifically, the pace car driver was out talking to a few officials still.

Enter Darren Charles Crowder, a 20 year old from Birmingham who’d had too much to drink and was standing in the pit lane. Seeing his opportunity, he hopped in and started up the red Pontiac Trans Am to take it for a 100mph joyride. Seemingly not every official had been told who the pace car driver was, so it took a bit for the officials to know it was stolen. Reportedly, the first words acknowledging the situation from an official who did know were: “Who’s that f–ker in the pace car?” (The Drive)

22922006.stolenpacecar
Credit to Steve Cavanah

When the situation was identified however, the response was quick. Crowder was greeted by a roadblock of Alabama’s best when he came around to finish lap two, and he decided to slow, only to decide against giving up and lock the car’s doors according to The Drive. Someone had found a spare set of keys, and he unlocked the car’s doors, then Crowder locked them again before the doors could be opened. This pattern continued for a bit until Crowder was too slow in locking the door and was removed from the car. He was arrested, the race was started, and Bobby Allison would bring it home.

Interestingly, there appears to be no further documentation on Darren Charles Crowder. He’s disappeared off the Earth a la D.B. Cooper. Shall we call him D.C. Crowder?

43. SILVERSTONE RAIN STORM (1984, ETCC, SILVERSTONE)

NEW TO LIST

The days when the European Touring Car Championship was relevant…

As the field rolled in to Silverstone, the Jaguars were coming off of an excellent run at Spa, which they’d dominated similarly to how they’d destroyed the field so far that year. Mother Nature seemingly wasn’t on the side of the Jaguars, however, and she showed it in an incredible downpour.

Credit to Wim Heuving
5646934371_9c61976bc0_b
Credit to Picssr

A bit past halfway in the 107 lap race, the skies suddenly darkened while most of the cavalry was out on slicks. Rallyman Marc Duez was first off in a Rover, and from there cars just kept piling in. BMW driver Barrie Williams was in for a scare when he had to jump on the roof of Chuck Nicholson’s Jaguar to avoid the spinning Alfa Romeo of Terry Drury. Interestingly, most of the lapped cars were stuck in the pit lane still due to reduced priority in pit stops, so they were mostly spared. The Rover of Duez-Allam, the Jaguar of Percy-Nicholson, the Alfa Romeo of Drury-Wilds, the BMW of Williams-Sytner were out of the race, with the BMW of Felder-Hamelmann suffering heavy damage but eventually continuing after the restart. The race’s eventual winner were the pairing of Kelleners-Brancatelli in the BMW, though Jaguar easily brought it all home at season’s end.

 

The Survival Of Alex Zanardi

NOTE: I WILL BE INCLUDING GRAPHIC PHOTOS IN THIS ARTICLE. I WILL PROVIDE NO PRIOR WARNING, HOWEVER.

Also note that there will be no input from me, as I have never – and will never – listen to how the English broadcasters reacted to the crash. Blood is visible in the photos I will be showing.

On September 11th, 2001, the United States of America was attacked, and almost three thousand innocent lives were ended. Motorsport paid tribute in many different ways, and several races were either postponed or cancelled, including the NASCAR race in New Hampshire, which would eventually be held under the freezing late November sun. On the other hand, the planned German 500 CART race at Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany was still held, but it did receive a name change to the American Memorial. Horrifyingly, the American Memorial almost saw the end of an extremely experienced and beloved veteran’s life in what is sometimes seen as the most violent non-fatal crash in all of open wheel racing.

Alex Zanardi (at right); Credit to lifegate.it

If there’s one word that can describe Alessandro ‘Alex’ Zanardi, it’s ‘daredevil’. Born in 1966 in Italy, Alex began karting at the age of four and eventually moved to Italian F3. He did well despite subpar speed, and eventually found his way into Formula 3000 in 1991, where he finished second.

ZANARDI-MINARDI-1992-FOTO-MINARDI-IT
Zanardi c. 1992; Credit to Minardi.it

In 1991, Zanardi made his debut in Formula One for Jordan. He finished ninth on debut in Spain, which wasn’t a points spot at the time, but was still a good run. He retired in Japan, and came home ninth again at Australia. In 1992, he attempted three races for Minardi, only qualifying for one, and even then he didn’t even last a lap in that one race. Zanardi switched to Lotus in 1993 and ran well when he finished, even netting a point with a sixth place at Brazil. Unfortunately, his season ended early after he was concussed during practice at Belgium. 1994 went terribly for Zanardi, and Lotus folded their team at year’s end. Zanardi spent 1995 racing sports cars, and during the fall traveled to the United States to see if he could find a ride in CART. He tested with Chip Ganassi and impressed them enough to secure a full time berth in 1996. Though his season started poorly, Zanardi started to pick up the pace, and at season’s end he was third in the points with three wins, one of these coming when he dove the car into the infamous Corkscrew at Laguna Seca on the last lap to pass Bryan Herta. This move, known as “The Pass”, was ruled legal, but is no longer permitted.

6238791949_7829a8c584_o
Credit to Flickr

Zanardi was a very popular driver on the CART scene. He often got himself into unneeded crashes, but when he finished races cleanly, it was usually towards the front. He won the 1997 and 1998 titles in CART with five wins in 1997 and seven, including four in a row, in 1998. However, Zanardi decided to depart CART for F1 in 1999, signing a contract with Williams. He never scored a point that year, and returned to the States in 2000. Zanardi spent the year testing, and eventually signed with Mo Nunn Racing in 2001.

On September 15th, 2001, Zanardi was leading at Lausitz, a new 2.023 mile oval in Klettwitz, Germany. The race, unlike many other major motorsport events, had not been cancelled, but had been renamed to the American Memorial in tribute to the lives lost during 9/11. The CART drivers were in Germany for a two race jaunt, with another race at the new speedway in Rockingham-Corby, UK coming up shortly thereafter. Zanardi had had a poor year for Mo Nunn Racing. He hadn’t won anything, and had a best finish of fourth. The pressure seemingly got to him when he floored the accelerator a little too hard while leaving the pit lane on lap 142 of 154, something he later admitted was likely on him.

Patrick Carpentier was informed over the radio that Zanardi was approaching. He was running up front, though he wasn’t right behind Zanardi, who was leading by thirty seconds. As Carpentier approached the merging Zanardi, he was stunned to see the #66 car spin. Looking for a lane, Carpentier swerved up the circuit and missed Zanardi by an inch. Unfortunately, Alex Tagliani was right behind Carpentier. His #33 car ran unsighted and full-bore towards Zanardi. He simply was unable to see it coming. Tagliani saw that he was too close to Zanardi to fully circumvent the #66, so he flicked his car to the left a little (which was revealed to have saved them both, as if Tagliani hadn’t aimed for the front, Zanardi would have perished instantly, and it’s likely Tagliani would have as well) and braced. Tagliani remembered screaming in his head, but Zanardi stated that he does not recall his reaction. In fact, the last thing he recalls was driver introductions that day.

 

Tagliani obliterated Zanardi’s Reynard at about 195mph, sending the #33 airborne and shearing off the #66’s front end completely and sending the rest of the car spinning around several times until it came to a stop near the wall, Zanardi facing away from the crowd. The race was yellow flagged and finished under caution, with Kenny Bräck being handed the win. In the meantime, officials rushed over to the scene, in disbelief.

e298fa7b230dd0f943cc3a4f48db1d63
Credit to racingmotorsports.br
2017-09-06 19.13.45
Credit to The Fastlane
Screenshot_2017-09-06-19-18-35
Credit to The Fastlane
2017-09-06 19.16.48
Credit to Documenting Reality

The crash had done ungodly damage to Zanardi. Shrapnel and other pieces had gone flying, and the front of the car had been torn off. Even worse, Zanardi’s legs were completely destroyed, with director of medical affairs Steve Olvey noting that his legs had exploded as if he’d stepped on a land mine. His right leg was gone at the knee, and only a few inches of the upper left leg remained. He was bleeding out.

drtup
A recent photo of Trammell; Credit to IndyCar
2017-09-08 16.07.55
Credit to The Fastlane

Chief orthopedic consultant Terry Trammell arrived on scene in a truck. From the truck, he thought he saw an oil slick on the circuit. When he stepped on the circuit, however, he noticed that the oil was actually blood, and before he could avoid it, Trammell had slipped. Trammell got back to his feet, slipped again, and then traveled to the scene on his knees. Trammell was stunned by the awful injuries suffered by Zanardi. His femoral arteries were both severed, and he was gushing blood “like a hose” (SI). Trammell opened an airway for Zanardi and used the remaining skin on his right leg to fold over the wound, after which he formed a tourniquet and stopped the bleeding. The left leg was another story, as there was not enough left there for the same procedure. As a last resort, Trammell used a crewman’s belt to stop the bleeding, only for it to loosen as Zanardi was loaded into the ambulance.

ZanardiStretcher
Credit to sportsnet; Note that the green-uniformed man is Steve Olvey

Olvey decided to request a chopper to take Zanardi to Berlin, and the chopper met the ambulance at the hospital. He was given a fifty-fifty shot of surviving the 50 kilometer trip to Berlin, and as such was given last rites from a priest. Olvey and Trammell went inside the hospital to go check up on Tagliani, who himself was injured, though not seriously. When they left, to their horror, they saw that the chopper was still outside the hospital, the German medics seemingly trying to stabilize Zanardi inside the chopper itself. It had been a little under nineteen minutes since the tourniquets had been applied, and Olvey knew that Zanardi’s chances had decreased further. Olvey recalled taking the pilot by his shirt and demanding he leave, first in English, then in the little German he knew. Within a few seconds, the chopper had departed.

Zanardi arrived at a trauma unit in Berlin fifty-six minutes after the crash. He’d already gone into cardiac arrest once on the chopper, and his vital signs were incredibly low. The average adult has a blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/90, a hemoglobin count of 16, and four liters of blood in his or her body. Zanardi’s blood pressure was 60/0, his hemoglobin count was 3, and he only had one liter left of blood. Daniela Zanardi, his spouse, arrived some time thereafter. According to Ashley Judd, then-wife of Dario Franchitti, Daniela Zanardi took the news of Zanardi’s legs very well.

Zanardi, his wounds finally secured and closed as best as they could, went into surgery some time thereafter, where his legs were completely removed, and was awakened out of a coma three days later. He’d lost his legs, and had a long rehabilitation in his future, but he was alive.

 

Zanardi, who specially designed his own prosthetic legs, eventually returned to racing. He ran thirteen laps in a special car before CART’s return trip to Lausitz in 2003, those being the thirteen laps he never finished, and began running touring cars. He won several races in the World Touring Car Championship and also ran GT3 events such as Blancpain GT. He has since mostly retired from racing cars, though Zanardi does still run occasional races here and there as a special guest in mostly national events. Additionally, Zanardi competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He took two golds in London, including the Road Race event, which was partially held at Brands Hatch, and won two more golds at Rio. He’s still going strong, and he’s still as inspirational as ever.

 

 

Sources:

“After the Miracle Having barely survived a horrific crash in which he lost both legs, Alex Zanardi is attacking rehab with the same passion and purpose that made him a racing champion”, Sports Illustrated, April 15, 2002

“Zanardi Loses His Legs in Crash”, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2001

“Zanardi crash ‘like bomb had gone off'”, Crash.Net, September 21, 2001

The Tracks ARCA Has Run

This is a massive project. I will be cataloguing the circuits ARCA has raced at. I will list their location, their length, their surface, and what year they closed in. Listing what years they were run in would unfortunately take too long. I will put an asterisk if they are still used by ARCA, however. If there are multiple layouts, I will list what I find relevant. If a track was reconfigured, and is still open, I will mark what they currently use with an asterisk. If a track is still open and none of the layouts have an asterisk, that implies that they all are still used to my knowledge.

411 MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.375 dirt*
Location: Seymour, Tennessee
STILL OPEN

AKRON RUBBER BOWL
Length: 0.2 dirt
Location: Akron, Ohio
Closed: Sometime after 1959 (track) REOPENING SOON (stadium)

ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.528 paved, 1.54 paved*
Location: Hampton, Georgia
STILL OPEN
Notes; Saw two fatalities, Stuart Lyndon in 1985 and Chad Coleman in 1998.

ANDERSON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Anderson, Indiana
STILL OPEN

ASCOT STADIUM
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Ascot, California
Closed: 1990

AUTO CITY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.25 paved
Location: Clio, Michigan
STILL OPEN

AVILLA SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved, 0.333 paved
Location: Avilla, Indiana
Closed: Early 90’s

BAER FIELD SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.375 paved
Location: Baer Field, Indiana
STILL OPEN

BARBERTON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Barberton, Ohio
STILL OPEN

BEAVER VALLEY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Martin, Kentucky
Closed: 1968

BERLIN RACEWAY*
Length: 0.4375 paved
Location: Marne, Michigan
STILL OPEN

BIRMINGHAM INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 0.625 paved
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Closed: 2008

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.533 paved
Location: Bristol, Tennessee
STILL OPEN

BUTLER SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Butler, Pennsylvania
Closed: Likely Mid-50s

CANFIELD SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Canfield, Ohio
Closed: Mid-70s

CANTON MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Canton, Ohio
Closed: Mid-90s

CAPITAL CITY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 paved
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Closed: 2015 (LOOKING TO REOPEN)

CC SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
STILL OPEN

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY*
Length: 1.5 paved
Location: Concord, North Carolina
STILL OPEN
Notes: Saw two fatalities, Blaise Alexander and Eric Martin.

CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY*
Length: 1.5 paved
Location: Joliet, Illinois
STILL OPEN

CINCINNATI RACE BOWL
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Evendale, Ohio
Closed: 1958

CLARKE COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt
Location: Osceola, Iowa
STILL OPEN

CLAY CITY RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Clay City, Kentucky
NEWLY REOPENED

CLOVERLEAF SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location; Valley View, Ohio
Closed: Early 90s

CLOVIS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Clovis, California
Closed: 1977

COLUMBUS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 paved
Location: Obetz, Ohio
Closed: 2016

CORBIN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.25 paved*
Location: Corbin, Kentucky
STILL OPEN

CROWN POINT SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt, 0.375 dirt
Location: Crown Point, Indiana
Closed: 2005
Notes: Also went by Broadway Speedway.

DAYTON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Closed: 1982

DAYTONA INT’L SPEEDWAY*
Length: 2.5 paved
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
STILL OPEN
Notes: Saw two fatalities, Francis Affleck in 1985 and Julius Johnson in 1990.

DELAWARE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Delaware, Ontario
STILL OPEN

DUQUOIN STATE FAIRGROUNDS*
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: DuQuoin, Illinois
STILL OPEN

ELKO SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Elko, Minnesota
STILL OPEN

EXPO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 to 0.625 dirt
Location: Cortland, Ohio
STILL OPEN
Notes: Was known as Trumbull County Speedway when ARCA visited.

FAIRGROUNDS NASHVILLE SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.596 paved
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
STILL OPEN

FIVE FLAGS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Five Flags, Florida
STILL OPEN

FLAT ROCK SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Flat Rock, Michigan
STILL OPEN

FLEMINGTON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 paved
Location: Flemington, New Jersey
Closed: 2002

FLORENCE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt, 0.5 dirt*
Location: Union, Kentucky
STILL OPEN

FORT MIAMI FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Toledo, OH
Closed: 1957

FORT WAYNE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 paved
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Closed: Circa 1966

FREMONT SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 dirt
Location: Fremont, Ohio
STILL OPEN

GATEWAY INT’L RACEWAY*
Length: 1.270 paved
Location: East St. Louis, Illinois
STILL OPEN

GOLDEN SANDS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 paved
Location: Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
STILL OPEN

GREAT NEW YORK STATE FAIR
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Syracuse, New York
Closed: 2015

GREATER PITTSBURGH SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 dirt, 0.333 paved
Location: Clinton, Pennsylvania
Closed: 1970

GREENVILLE-PICKENS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.5 paved*
Location: Easley, South Carolina
STILL OPEN

HAGERSTOWN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Wilson Conococheague, Maryland
STILL OPEN

HATFIELD SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 dirt, 0.375 paved
Location: Hatfield, Pennsylvania
Closed: 1966

HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA
Length: 1.8 road, 2.1 road
Location: Topeka, Kansas
STILL OPEN

HEIDELBERG RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Heidelberg, Pennsylvania
Closed: 1973

HUNTSVILLE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt, 0.25 paved*
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
STILL OPEN

ILLIANA SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.5 paved
Location: Schererville, Illinois
Closed: 2016

ILLINOIS STATE FAIRGROUNDS*
Length; 1.0 dirt
Location: Springfield, Illinois
STILL OPEN

INDIANA STATE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
STILL OPEN

INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDROME
Length: 0.2 paved
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
STILL OPEN
Notes: Was called Art Zipp’s Speedway when ARCA stopped by. Holds the Figure-8 World Championships.

IOWA SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.894 paved
Location: Newton, Iowa
STILL OPEN

I-70 SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.54 paved
Location: Odessa, Missouri
Closed: 2008

I-80 SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.4 dirt
Location: Greenwood, Nebraska
STILL OPEN

I-96 SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 dirt*
Location: Ionia, Michigan
STILL OPEN
Notes: Was called Ionia Speedway when ARCA visited.

JUKASA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 paved
Location: Hagersville, Ontario
NEWLY REOPENED
Notes: Once known as Cayuga Motor Speedway. ‘Jukasa’ apparently has some significance to the new owners, who supposedly are business moguls in the cigarette industry.

KALAMAZOO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
STILL OPEN

KANSAS SPEEDWAY*
Length: 1.5 paved
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
STILL OPEN

KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.5 paved
Location: Sparta, Kentucky
STILL OPEN

KIL-KARE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Xenia, Ohio
STILL OPEN
Notes: Got its name from an old resort that told people to ‘kill all [their] cares’.

KNOXVILLE RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Knoxville, Iowa
STILL OPEN

KOKOMO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
STILL OPEN

LAKE ERIE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: North East, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

LAKEWOOD SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Lakewood, Georgia
Closed: 1962 (to all but special events), 1979 (completely)

LANCASTER NATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 paved
Location: Lancaster, New York
STILL OPEN

LANGHORNE SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 dirt, 1.0 paved
Location: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Closed: 1971

LANIER NATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Braselton, Georgia
STILL OPEN
Notes: Across the road from Road Atlanta. Recently reopened.

LAS VEGAS PARK SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Closed: Circa 1959

LAWRENCEBURG SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt
Location: Lawrenceburg, Indiana
STILL OPEN

LINCOLN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 dirt*
Location: Abbotstown, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

LONESOME PINE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Coeburn, VA
STILL OPEN

LONGHORN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Pilot Knob, Texas
Closed: 2000

LORAIN COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 dirt, 0.375 paved*
Location: South Amherst, Ohio
STILL OPEN

LOST CREEK SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Lost Creek, Kentucky
Closed: Circa 1984

LOUISVILLE DOWNS
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
CLOSED TO CARS, STILL OPEN TO HORSES

LOUISVILLE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 0.333 paved
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Closed: 1981

LOUISVILLE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.4375 paved, 0.375 paved
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Closed: 2001

LUCAS OIL RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS*
Length: 0.686 paved
Location: Brownsburg, Indiana
STILL OPEN

MADISON SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Oregon, Wisconsin
STILL OPEN

MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.4 paved, 0.4 dirt*
Location: Mansfield, Ohio
STILL OPEN

MARLBORO MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.333 paved, 1.7 road
Location: Marlboro, Maryland
Closed: 1969
Notes: I have no idea which layout ARCA ran.

MEADOWDALE INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 3.27 road
Location: Carpentersville, Illinois
Closed: 1968

MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK
Length: 0.75 paved
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
STILL OPEN

MERCER RACEWAY PARK
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Findlay, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

MEYER SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Houston, Texas
Closed: 1979

MICHIGAN INT’L SPEEDWAY*
Length: 2.029 paved
Location: Brooklyn, Michigan
STILL OPEN

MICHIGAN STATE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Closed: After 1965

MIDDLE GEORGIA RACEWAY
Length: 0.548 paved
Location: Byron, Georgia
Closed: Mid-80s, apparently saw some use until no later than 2004 (STILL USABLE FOR CERTAIN THINGS)

MID OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE
Length: 2.4 road, 2.25 road
Location: Lexington, Ohio
STILL OPEN

MILLSTREAM SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Millstream, Ohio
Closed: 2017 (LOOKING TO REOPEN)

MILWAUKEE MILE
Length: 1.029 paved
Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
STILL OPEN

MISSOURI STATE FAIR SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 dirt, 0.5 dirt*
Location: Sedalia, Missouri
STILL OPEN

MOBILE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.497 paved
Location: Irvington, Alabama
STILL OPEN
Notes: Will Kimmel famously entered the parking lot at this track in 2015.

MONROE COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Monroe, Michigan
Closed: 1954

MONTGOMERY MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.55 paved*
Location: Montgomery, Alabama
STILL OPEN

MOREHEAD SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Morehead, Kentucky
Closed: ???

MOTOR CITY SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Warren, Michigan
Closed: 1959

MOUNT CLEMENS SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt, 0.5 paved
Location: Mt. Clemens, Michigan
Closed: 1985

MUSKINGUM COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Zanesville, Ohio
STILL OPEN
Notes: Has had many different layouts, though I couldn’t find enough documentation on them.

NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY
Length: 1.333 paved
Location: Lebanon, Tennessee
TESTING ONLY

NEW BREMEN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.5 dirt
Location: New Bremen, Ohio
Closed: 1981
Notes: Paved in 1966, returned to dirt in 1979.

NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK
Length: 2.25 road
Location: Millville, New Jersey
STILL OPEN

NEWPORT SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.337 paved
Length: Newport, Tennessee
STILL OPEN

NORTHVILLE DOWNS
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Northville, Michigan
CLOSED TO CARS, STILL OPEN TO HORSES

NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt, 0.625 paved
Location: North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Closed: 2011
Notes: Closed 1996, reopened 2010, closed again 2011.

OAKSHADE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Wauseon, Ohio
STILL OPEN

OGLETHORPE RACEWAY PARK
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Pooler, Georgia
STILL OPEN

OHIO STATE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 1.0 dirt
Location: Columbus, Ohio
CLOSED TO CARS, MIGHT STILL BE USED FOR HORSES

ONA SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.4375 paved
Location: Ona, West Virginia
STILL OPEN
Notes: Closed in 1972, and has reopened and closed on and off the past couple decades, most recently reopening in 2007. Used to operate as International Raceway Park.

OWOSSO SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.375 paved*
Location: Ovid, Michigan
STILL OPEN
Notes: May have had several other lengths over the years.

OZARK EMPIRE FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Closed: Late 80s

PALM BEACH INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 2.043 road
Location: Palm Beach, Florida
STILL OPEN
Notes: Saw ARCA’s only confirmed rain race in 2010.

PAN-AMERICAN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Closed: 1978

PARAGON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Paragon, Indiana
STILL OPEN

PERRY COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Hazard, Kentucky
Closed: 2004

PIKES PEAK INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 1.0 paved
Location: Pikes Peak, Colorado
STILL OPEN

PINE GROVE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Shippenville, Pennsylvania
Closed: After 1955

POCONO RACEWAY*
Length: 0.75 paved, 2.5 paved*
Location: Long Pond, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

PORTSMOUTH SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt?
Location: Portsmouth, Ohio
Closed: After 1962
Notes: Not the same track as Portsmouth Raceway Park, which opened in 1990.

POWELL SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.5 paved
Location: Powell, Ohio
Closed: 1965

RITCHIE COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Pennsboro, West Virginia
POSSIBLY STILL OPEN
Notes: Apparently closed due to a flood some years ago, may have reopened. Likely the same track as Pennsboro Speedway.

RICHMOND INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.542 paved, 0.75 paved*
Location: Richmond, Virginia
STILL OPEN

ROAD AMERICA
Length: 4.048 road
Location: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
STILL OPEN

ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.292 paved
Location: Loves Park, Illinois
STILL OPEN

ROCK HILL SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 dirt
Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina
Closed: After 1962

ROCKINGHAM SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.017 paved
Location: Rockingham, North Carolina
CURRENTLY TESTING ONLY

SAGINAW FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 0.625 dirt
Location: Chesaning, Michigan
Closed: Between 1956 and 2010

SAINT LOUIS INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 1.0 road, 2.7 road
Location: East Saint Louis, Illinois
Closed: 1995
Notes: Was demolished to make room for Gateway Int’l Raceway.

SALEM SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.555 paved
Location: Salem, Indiana
STILL OPEN

SANDUSKY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Sandusky, Ohio
STILL OPEN

SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Penn Township, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

SHADY BOWL SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.3 paved
Location: De Graff, Ohio
STILL OPEN

SHARON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Hartford, Ohio
STILL OPEN
Notes: Named for Sharon, Pennsylvania, but is in Ohio.

SHELBY COUNTY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 paved?
Location: Lakeland, Tennessee
Closed: After 1972

SOLDIER FIELD
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Closed: 1970 (track) STILL OPEN (stadium)

SOUTH ANTHONY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 paved
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Closed: 1964

SOUTH BEND MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: South Bend, Indiana
STILL OPEN

SOUTH BOSTON SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.357 paved, 0.4 paved*
Location: South Boston, Virginia
STILL OPEN
Notes: Home track of the Burtons.

SPARTAN SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Mason, Michigan
STILL OPEN

SPEEDWAY SALYERSVILLE
Length: 0.333 dirt
Location: Salyersville, Kentucky
Closed: After 1969

SPORTSDROME SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Jeffersonville, Indiana
STILL OPEN

STREETS OF DES MOINES
Length: 1.7 street
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Closed: 1994

TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY*
Length: 2.66 paved
Location: Talladega, Alabama
STILL OPEN
Notes: Saw four fatalities, Gene Richards in 1982, Ken Kalla in 1983, Tracy Read in 1987, and Chris Gehrke in 1991.

TAMPA FAIRGROUNDS
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Tampa, Florida
Closed: 1971

TAYLOR COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.375 dirt
Location: Campbellsville, Kentucky
Closed: After 1968

TERRE HAUTE ACTION TRACK
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
STILL OPEN

TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.455 paved
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
STILL OPEN

TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY
Length: 2.0 paved
Location: College Station, Texas
Closed: 2017

THE GREATER CUMBERLAND RACEWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt
Location: Cumberland, Maryland
STILL OPEN

TOLEDO SPEEDWAY*
Length: 0.5 paved, 0.2 paved
Location: Toledo, Ohio
STILL OPEN
Notes: ARCA’s ‘home track’. Saw one fatality, Scott Baker in 2000.

TRENTON SPEEDWAY
Length: 1.0 paved, 1.5 paved
Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Closed: 1980
Notes: Was replaced by a sculpture grounds, probably the best use of the land a track was once on I’ve ever seen.

TRI-COUNTY SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: West Chester, Ohio
Closed: 1987

USA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 0.75 paved
Location: Lakeland, Florida
Closed: 2008

VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Length: 3.27 road
Location: Danville, Virginia
STILL OPEN
Notes: Closed in 1972, but reopened in 2000.

WATKINS GLEN INT’L
Length: 2.454 road
Location: Watkins Glen, New York
STILL OPEN
Notes: John Finger won ARCA’s only visit to the track in 2001. Everyone on the lead lap crashed, and Finger was the only one to get away from it, meaning he won by a lap.

WEST 16TH STREET SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.25 paved
Location: Speedway, Indiana
Closed: 1958
Notes: Was across the street from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

WEST VIRGINIA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.625 dirt
Location: Mineral Wells, West Virginia
Closed: 2013
Notes: ARCA’s visit to this track in 1997 was the most recent time ARCA has run a dirt track that was not one mile.

WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt
Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
STILL OPEN

WINCHESTER SPEEDWAY
Length: 0.5 dirt, 0.5 paved*
Location: Winchester, Indiana
STILL OPEN
Notes: Banked at an astronomical 37 degrees.

WISCONSIN INT’L RACEWAY
Length: 0.5 paved
Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin
STILL OPEN

Cancelled Events

Races are very rarely called off. Usually, when races have to be ended, they’ll try their very best to get it in nonetheless. But sometimes, they must cancel, usually due to a fatal crash early on. Let’s take a look at a few of them. All of these had to be completely called off for whatever reason. No points could be salvaged from the events, and they were all declared non races. The whole event must have been cancelled to count. If one race was thrown out, I won’t include it. The races that were called off due to fatalities will be marked with asterisks.

1967: Italian F3 at Caserta*

By the time summer 1967 arrived, the Italian racing community was mourning. They`d recently lost Lorenzo Bandini, who had crashed in Monaco. To make things worse, on June 4th, Italian F3 driver Boley Pittard`s car caught fire on the grid at the start of a race at Monza. Pittard veered his car to the side to prevent a fiery pileup, but was very badly burned in the incident. He died on June 11th.

2z7iibk
Credit to GPX

Italian F3 raced on. It ran Caserta, a 2.8 mile street circuit, on June 18th. Visible from the track sidelines was Reggia di Caserta, the tallest building in Europe to be built in the 1700s.

Caserta
Credit to Theracingline (track was run clockwise)

On lap seven, backmarkers Beat Fehr and Andrea Saltari made contact on the approach to Via Domenico Mondo. The pair crashed hard, and Franco Foresti soon crashed in response. Fehr and Saltari were unhurt, but Foresti broke his leg. Fehr hopped out of the car and started to flag down drivers. After a little while, Fehr left the scene, where he came across a small field that a car had set on fire. He found some off-duty firemen and alerted them to the fire, then returned to the scene of the crash to continue flagging down drivers. During his absence, Jorg Dubler crashed, vaulting into the air and hitting two poles. Dubler was badly hurt, but was able to get out with the help of two soldiers, one of which called for medics. In the meantime, the race continued. On lap nine, Giacomo ‘Geki’ Russo blew a tire on some debris and went off. He struck Fehr and plowed into a concrete barrier. Over the next two laps, the crash collected Clay Reggazoni, Massimo Natili, Corrado Manfredini, Manfred Mohr, G.R. ‘Tiger’ Perdomi, Silvio Moser, and Maurizio Montagnani, with four drivers, Antonio Maglione, Ernesto Brambilla, Sverrir Thoroddsson, and Enzo Corti, dodging the mess. The race was eventually ended on lap 11 when Natili, who was able to drive away, drove to the pits and let officials know. At last, the race was stopped.

Three drivers died in this. Giacomo ‘Geki’ Russo, who was being courted for an F1 ride, was instantly killed when the car hit the wall, which ejected him and split the chassis in two. Geki was a rich man from Milan whose father started a successful tissue company. His family disapproved of racing, which is why he raced as Geki. Beat Fehr died on the way to the hospital, having been struck by Geki’s errant car. G.R. ‘Tiger’ Perdomi was severely injured when his car crumpled. It took 30 minutes to extricate Tiger, who died a week later. He was conscious and alert during his removal, his leg pierced by the tachometer.

Racing never returned to Caserta. Officials decided to cancel any championship aspect that year, as the points leader (Geki) was dead. Geki actually held the points lead until the finale, where Maurizio Montagnani overtook him, but neither man was crowned champion.

1973: MotoGP at Monza*

What exactly caused the events of May 20th, 1973 to turn out the way they did is debatable, but it’s believed that, during the 350cc World Motorcycle Championship (now MotoGP) race at Monza, Walter Villa’s bike had a mechanical issue in the concluding laps, spilling oil everywhere. Rider John Dodds and several journalists alerted officials to the oil, but they were told that the races would continue. Dodds pushed the issue, and was threatened with police and gave up. The field quickly moved on to the 250cc race.

Late in the 350cc race, local boy Renzo Pasolini had blown a piston and retired from the event while running up front, heavily upsetting the popular rider. He got ready for the 250cc race with every intention of riding aggressively to the front of the pack.

Entering turn one on lap one (motorcycles did not use the first chicane at Monza), Pasolini, either unaware or uncaring of the oil, fell and went into the hay bales, sending his bike bouncing along the circuit. Pasolini and Jarno Saarinen were killed in the ensuing pileup, which collected Walter Villa, Borje Jansson, Chas Mortimer, Fosco Giansanti, Hideo Kanaya, Victor Palomo, and at least two others. Pasolini had skipped most of the hay bales and struck the steel guardrail directly, and Saarinen, the defending 250cc champion, was hit in the face by Pasolini’s Harley Davidson. The race was called on lap three, and both it and the 500cc race afterwards were cancelled.

Emanuele Maugliani just barely avoided the minefield of wreckage and suffering in the crash, but was killed a few days later during a race in what is now Slovenia when he crashed and his bike flew into the crowd. Maugliani’s bike killed five spectators and injured many more.

1973: Italian Junior Racers Championship at Monza*

Fifty days after the deaths of Saarinen and Pasolini, more tragedy struck. During the Italian Junior Racers Championship 500cc race, again at Monza, again in the first corner (they still were not using the frontstretch chicane). On lap three, as the field exited the first turn, Renzo Colombini crashed into the guardrail on the track’s outside. Trying to avoid him, Vittorio Altrocchio went into the haybales on the inside of the circuit. The field panicked, and several riders went down, with the pack still bearing down on them.

Colombini struck the bare guardrail, dying instantly. Renato Galtrucco was part of the first pack that had crashed in response, and he had been struck by Carlo Chionio. Galtrucco died shortly after arrival, and Chionio seemed to be in stable condition at first, but it quickly worsened and he died some time later. It apparently took a couple minutes to find Altrocchio – he’d flown over the guardrail and gotten stuck in the tree branches, and even more amazingly was relatively uninjured. Altrocchio suffered some facial injuries, but was released a few hours later.

Motorcycle racing ditched Monza after this. It only returned in 1981, and even to this day mostly national events are held.

1990: Copa Nissan Sunny at Roca Roja*

The Copa Nissan Sunny was a one make series for the Nissan Sunny that got underway in Chile in 1990. Chile had very few major race tracks in 1990, so all but one of the races in the series were at Las Vizcachas in Santiago, the capital. The one race outside of Las Vizcachas was at Roca Roja, in Antofagasta, in the northern part of the country. J.M. Silva entered Roca Roja as the points leader, with Carlos Polanco not far behind.

Polanco started the late November race towards the front. On lap two of the race, Polanco made contact with another car and flipped. The Nissan’s door flew open, and Polanco was thrown from the car, which eventually came to a stop inverted. Polanco died shortly thereafter.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Roca Roja race was immediately cancelled, though the planned Chilean F3 race sometime later went on as intended. The Copa Nissan Sunny’s organizer assigned Silva the title and immediately shut the series down, meaning it only lasted one season. Roca Roja was also done in by the crash, as it saw very few events after 1990. A few years later, a flood struck the area, and being as Antofagasta is just north of the Atacama, it was a vicious one. Roca Roja suffered severe damage and was demolished instead of being rebuilt. It is now a landfill.

1997: Japanese Formula Three at Fuji*

October 19th, 1997. Shigekazu Wakisaka and Tom Coronel made contact while battling for the lead on lap one of the penultimate race of the Japanese F3 season in 1997 at Fuji. Wakisaka turned over, doing several rolls in the sand trap. Coronel, the points leader, came a few inches away from almost certainly being beheaded by Wakisaka’s chassis, and had tire marks on his helmet. The two were able to climb out of their cars unhurt.

As they slowed for the caution, backmarker Takashi Yokoyama, the teammate to Shigekazu Wakisaka, didn’t seem to notice what was going on. While Wakisaka was fast and contending for podium finishes, Yokoyama’s results were very poor, this mostly being due to him running a 1996 model car instead of Wakisaka’s 1997 model car. As usual, Yokoyama had fallen back already and was a few seconds behind everyone. As they slowed on the front chute, Yokoyama approached them at a very high speed. Either he hadn’t noticed the safety car boards or had but was unsighted due to the fairly blind nature of the final corner’s exit, but either way he was running at high speed. Yokoyama’s car struck another one at 160mph, launching him airborne and into a gantry positioned sixteen feet in the air across the circuit. The car shattered, and Yokoyama died instantly. The race was red flagged and called off. Coronel was the champion that year, having secured the title with the race’s cancellation.

423480d1417011582-indy-formula-one-fatal-non-fatal-crash-photos-stop-motion-color-b-w-frames-karpistakashiyokoyama1997-3
Source unknown; I believe that is Yokoyama at the far right, his roll hoop lining up with the I in ‘Konami’

1999: Indycar at Charlotte*

May 1, 1999. On lap 61 of the Visionaire 500k, the third round of the 1999 Indy Racing League, held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Stan Wattles crashed in turn four. Open wheelers are made to break apart in accidents to help dissipate the energy, and that was the case with Wattles’ car. Wattles himself was unscathed. However, Scott Harrington and John Paul, Jr. proceeded to pile into the debris field, sending pieces of Wattles’ car and their own cars, including at least one tire, over the catchfence and into the crowd. While Paul, Jr. and Harrington were both unhurt as well, several fans were injured by the flying debris. The caution flag immediately came out, and the cars were paced around the track as they confirmed injuries. On lap 79, the cars were stopped, and it was announced that there had been fatalities. The race went no further, and, having not yet hit halfway (104 laps), it was declared a non-event. The Indy Racing League never returned to Charlotte.

In all, nine fans were severely injured, and three were killed. They were identified as Jeffrey Patton, Randy Pyatte, and D.B. Mobley. The fan fatalities were announced on air, though their identities were only announced later. A nine year old girl was critically injured, but survived. In 1999, most catchfences jutted straight upwards, but after this a curve to help keep debris in-bounds was mandated.

Interestingly, during the U.S. 500 CART race at Michigan in 1998, Adrian Fernandez crashed in the trioval, throwing debris over the fence and killing three people. The race continued on, so it’s possible that the IRL called the race off to show that it had a sense of decency and thus prevent fans from ditching the IRL for its rival.

2001: CART at Texas

The situation during pre-race for the Firestone Firehawk 600k at the Texas Motor Speedway was one of the most complicated in history, but in short, drivers were experiencing extremely heavy G-Forces.

A few drivers reported to teams that they’d been experiencing the onset of vertigo during practice. CART cars were faster than IRL cars, and usually when it oval raced it ran flat ovals, with the few high banked ovals on its schedule being wide-open. Texas is rather high banked and is a very tight oval, and the added speed made for some incredibly high G-Forces and the very real possibility that drivers would have to withdraw due to fatigue. CART held a driver’s meeting and polled drivers to see who had experienced the symptoms, and to the amazement of everyone, every single hand in the drivers’ section went up. Drivers later explained that they had experienced the symptoms during pre-season testing at the track, but had kept them to themselves, assuming that they were the only ones with those symptoms. Two hours before the green flag was supposed to fly, CART decided, out of concern for the safety of the drivers, to pack up and go home, and the race was never rescheduled. This was yet another piece of straw placed upon the camel’s back as CART started to lose favor with the public. It folded after 2007, and was merged with Indycar.

2005: Italian GT at Imola

Most of the countries that possess permanent race tracks have national Grand Touring series, and Italy is no exception. It’s a fairly nondescript series, and nothing special goes on in it, but it’s always nice to have a series where drivers can show what they’ve got against those of similar skill (not necessarily similar budget, though…), and national level series are extremely important to furthering the careers of aspiring young talents.

26 cars were entered into the season opener in 2005, to be held at the Imola circuit near San Marino. GT cars are quite well known for being absolutely lovely, and the cars that showed up to Imola were no exception. The standard Ferrari 360s and Porsche 996s were on the grid, along with some more obscure cars such as the Saleen S7-R and the Lister Storm. Practice was held on April 2nd.

That same day, Pope John Paul II, who had become the Pope in 1978, died. Organizers chose to cancel the race, which had been scheduled for April 3rd. Oddly, the race was not rescheduled for a later date as is traditional when an event is cancelled due to the death of a prominent figure. As such, Italian GT did not race at Imola whatsoever in 2005, only returning for the season opener in 2006.

2008: NEMA at Thompson*

Midget racing is one of the most popular and common forms of motorsports in the United States. Midgets are also extremely popular in Australia and New Zealand, where they are known as speedcars. These cars are lightweight and easy to turn over, but they’re thrilling to watch. Midgets usually race on short dirt tracks, though they do run paved tracks from time to time.

The NorthEastern Midget Association is a pavement midget series that has been going for well over 60 years. In 2008, one of the racers in the series was Shane Hammond. Hammond had overcome many adversities to even get into a race car, having survived a brain tumor at the age of 15. Race one of the series’ schedule that year brought them to the high banked 0.625 mile Thompson Speedway in Connecticut for the historic track’s season opening weekend. The Thompson Speedway’s season opening weekend, known as The Icebreaker, contains many different events such as late models, modifieds, and of course, the NEMA Midgets. The headliner of The Icebreaker is the NASCAR Modified Tour, with NEMA following not far behind on the ‘priority’ list.

On April 4, 2008, Hammond’s throttle stuck in the entry of a corner and the 27-year-old flew over the wall and into a billboard, collapsing it. The race, which was on lap four of 25, was called off immediately and the races were halted while the track workers removed what was left of the billboard. The NEMA race was not restarted, but after the billboard’s remnants were scrapped, officials decided to continue with The Icebreaker.

Hammond was dead on arrival to the hospital. Spectators were aware of his passing by the final race of the day. NEMA took some time off from the Thompson Speedway for the next few years, but has since returned to the somewhat large one kilometer oval. A new race joined the schedule in 2010 at the Waterford Speedbowl by the name of the Shane Hammond Memorial, and it remained on the schedule until 2016. The Waterford Speedbowl shuttered in early April of 2017 after its owner was arrested, and its future, along with the future of the Shane Hammond Memorial, is uncertain.

2011: Indycar at Las Vegas*

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…where should I even begin with one of the most controversial, destructive, and tragic abortions of a race in motorsports history?

It was announced early in the year that Indycar would be opening up the entry list to the Las Vegas race to non-Indycar drivers. If they received more than five of these entries, a panel would choose which five would be allowed to race. If one of these drivers won, they would receive five million dollars. Two dozen drivers said that they were interested in competing, but only six drivers actually were able to put together deals. All six deals fell apart, however. Scott Speed’s deal fell apart after he didn’t qualify for that year’s Indy 500, Kasey Kahne was dissuaded from running the race by Rick Hendrick, his new car owner, Travis Pastrana’s deal was cancelled when he was injured at the X Games, and the reasons as to why Kimi Raikkonen, Alex Zanardi, and Joey Hand’s deals fell through was never given.

On September 4th, 2011, Indycar announced that there would be no wild cards. It was then announced on September 13th that popular Briton Dan Wheldon, who had spent most of the rest of the year testing the new vehicle model that would be instituted the next year, would start the race in the back, and would split the 5 million with a lucky fan if he managed to win. Entry forms were due on October 6th.

On October 13th, Ann Babenco of New Jersey was chosen as that fan, meaning she’d get a large chunk of money if Dan brought it home in first. Ann got to meet Wheldon, and flew to the track to watch the race live.

article-2050381-0e697ca400000578-932_964x518
Credit to Daily Mail

Behind the scenes, however, things weren’t so rosy. Drivers were used to the speeds of 225mph, but they heavily questioned Indycar for allowing them on such a thin track. Addtionally, with an entry list of 34 drivers (some of whom very rarely raced in Indycar) and no intention to have anyone fail to qualify, drivers were worried as to how large the packs would be. Indycar ignored both concerns.

On October 16th, 2011, Tony Kanaan led the massive 34 car grid to the green at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dan, who was the in race reporter and had the onboard camera, quickly worked his way through the field. He seemingly played it cool, though other drivers could be heard over their radios swearing frequently and questioning how they’d get through 200 laps. It was only on lap 11 of 200 that tragedy struck.

Contact between J.R. Hildebrand and Wade Cunningham set off a vicious 15 car crash in turn two that sent many cars flying and several rolling. When the wreck began, ABC had been showing Dan’s onboard. Wheldon’s onboard camera was cut away from, but the Verizon subscribers who were watching his view live viewed it all the way through. Dan slammed into the back of Vitor Meira and took off, flying headfirst into the catchfence. The 2001 Indy Lights champion, 2005 Indycar champion, 2005 and 2011 Indy 500 winner, and Indycar veteran had no chance, dying on the helicopter. Pippa Mann and Will Power also turned over in the crash and both suffered injuries. One yellow flag lap was run before the race was red flagged, and several drivers reported that it looked like a bomb had gone off.

INDYCAR: OCT 16 IZOD IndyCar World Championships Presented By Honda - Dan Wheldon Crash
Credit to SEEN Sport Images; 12 (rolling): Will Power, 19 (bottom right): Alex Lloyd, 57 (center right): Tomas Scheckter, 83 (right, adjacent to Power): Charlie Kimball, 4 (pink car): J.R. Hildebrand
175329-dan-wheldon-car-crash
Power hits the wall as Wheldon strikes the fence just off to the left of the shot; Credit to Mirror
izodindycarworldchampionshipslasvegas0wupxuez9vrl
Will Power’s car shortly after his extrication; Note the tarp used to cover Wheldon’s car (which Power’s car landed near); Credit to CBS

The track had suffered severe damage, and with few days left in the year to run the event, the race was likely to be cancelled regardless. In any case, when the confirmation came in that Dan Wheldon was gone, the 19 cars left were lined up three wide and did a 5 lap tribute to Dan with Amazing Grace playing on the PA system and every single crew member and 11 of the 14 other drivers who had crashed (Mann, Hildebrand and Power were still in the hospital, Hildebrand was not seriously injured but was badly shaken) standing by on pit road. 7 of those 33 have not stepped foot in an Indycar since, those being Danica Patrick (who was already planning on leaving beforehand), Davey Hamilton (who fully retired after the crash), Vitor Meira, Tomas Scheckter, Paul Tracy, Buddy Rice, and Alex Lloyd. ABC signed off with a last line from Marty Reid that ended with an explanation behind his preferred signoff phrase, ‘Until we meet again’, and that he usually used the phrase due to the finality of ‘Goodbye’ – a word he used to bid farewell to Wheldon as the screen faded.

INDY-COLISION
Dan’s car; Credit to AP

Dan was officially killed by massive head injuries when his head hit a support pole in the catchfence. The fans who were watching the Verizon livestream saw his accident all the way through, but ABC cut away when the pileup began. The full footage belongs in the hands of Indycar, who have not released it beyond allowing a small extension to be shown for a Canadian documentary on the World Championships. The footage shown in the documentary shows Dan’s onboard as he tries to navigate the minefield, and freezes when Dan hits Vitor Meira.

In the aftermath, the public heard of the safety concerns that the drivers had lodged towards Indycar, and while the drivers mourned, the fans protested. In the end, Indycar lost a large chunk of its fanbase, but has stayed in operation. It had already planned for the Las Vegas race to be the last race with the old car type, as a new car type was to be introduced in 2012. Originally called the IR12, it was eventually renamed the DW12 for Dan.

USP INDYCAR: PHOENIX GRAND PRIX-PRACTICE S CAR USA AZ
Credit to USA Today; Note the covers over the rear wheels meant to prevent wheel to wheel contact, a frequent cause of massive accidents in open wheel racing

Indycar will likely never return to Las Vegas, as the track has been shown to be unsuitable for Indycars after further testing. There were serious talks of never oval racing again in Indycar besides the Indianapolis 500, but Indycar eventually settled on cutting the oval count down to five (currently six). Indycar had been oval only until 2005, and in 2012 they were only running five. Interestingly, the first road course Indycar had run in 2005 had been St. Petersburg, Dan Wheldon’s hometown (Wheldon was actually much more well known in the States than in Britain; He’d moved to the States in 1999, and had become so attached to the United States that his resting place is Pinellas Park, Florida).

Even more so, St. Petersburg was the next race out for the Indycars. The new chassis was implemented for the St. Petersburg race, which was the 2012 season opener (Las Vegas had been intended to be the 2011 finale). Helio Castroneves won, and in one of the loveliest tributes ever seen in racing, drove up to the newly renamed Dan Wheldon Way, one of the roads that makes up the course, and gave his fallen friend a salute.

1280px-2012_honda_grand_prix_of_st-_petersburg_helio_castroneves_dan_wheldon_4
Credit to Wikimedia

2011: MotoGP at Malaysia*

One week after the death of Dan Wheldon, on October 23rd, 2011, tragedy struck at Sepang in Malaysia during the MotoGP race. On lap two, Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards were running side by side for fifth when they were suddenly blindsided by another rider, who was hanging onto his bike after falling off of it. The pair struck the rider, and all three crashed extremely hard. It was a crash that unfortunately occurs every now and again in motorcycle racing.

Rossi and Edwards eventually rose to their feet, but the other rider wasn’t moving. It was evident by his #58 who he was: Marco Simoncelli, a popular young rider who had been running in fourth. He had lost control of his bike and fallen, and in a last ditch effort to at least bring it to a stop on the inside of the course and continue, had hung on to it. Simoncelli himself had been struck by Rossi and Edwards. Despite medics’ best efforts, the 24-year-old, who was often called Supersic by his fans, was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. A MotoGP race must last three laps in order to be official, and since the crash happened on lap two, the race was abandoned.

Two weeks later at Valencia, an incredible tribute was done for Simoncelli, in which the MotoGP, Moto2, and 125cc (renamed Moto3 the next year) riders all took to the track at once for a lap in memoriam, the first known time that all classes lapped the track together in any context.

When they got back, Paolo, Marco’s father, asked for a somewhat different tribute: something known in Italy as ‘casino’. It’s the opposite of a minute of silence, instead it’s a minute of extremely loud noise, in which everyone gathered attempts to generate as much noise as they can – and so they did, shouting, cheering, banging tools, and even shooting off fireworks.

Marco is remembered with the Misano Circuit in Italy, which has since adopted the full name of ‘Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli’. The #58 will never be available to anyone ever again in the MotoGP, Moto2, or Moto3 series unless they are specifically allowed to run the number by the Simoncelli family.

2012: Russian Racing Championship at Smolensk*

Russia has quite the motorsport fanbase. Circuits have been popping up all over Russia in the past few years. In 2006, Russia only had one permanent track, but as of 2017, I am aware of eight. In fact, there’s even a circuit called the Red Ring located in Siberia.

The Smolenskring is another one of the circuits. It opened in 2010, and sits about halfway between Moscow and the Belarusian border. It’s a fast circuit despite its many twists and turns, which led to tragedy one day a few years after it opened.

On August 19th, 2012, during the second lap of the Super Production race, Yuri Semenchev entered the long, sweeping last turn with no brakes or steering and went straight on into the barrier. The Honda Civic flipped over and violently bounced every which way before eventually coming to rest on its side. Yuri died a few minutes after admission, and the race went no further. All other Russian Racing Championship races that day were also called off.

The top Russian touring car series saw many fatalities in the Soviet era, however Yuri Semenchev was the first driver to die in the series since the Iron Curtain fell in 1991. He was 49 years old, and was rather new to racing. He began racing in 2010, two years before his death.

The Tragedies At Rafaela: Petrich, Lafeudo, Noya, and Miller

The Autodromo Ciudad De Rafaela, also known as the Autodromo Juan Bascolo, sits just outside the city of Rafaela, northeastern Argentina. It is a bizarre track, being a back-and-forth oval with lightly banked corners and several chicanes, along with a road course for junior series that cuts off half the oval. It is a massive 2.895 mile track, making it even longer than Talladega.

download
Credit to Wikipedia

It was built as a massive dirt track in 1952, was paved in 1966, and hosted the USAC Champ Cars in 1971, though it’s been used almost exclusively for national events since. The Turismo Carretera usually runs three chicanes, one towards the end of the front chute, one on the back chute, and a third in turn three (the north turn), though there is a fourth in turn one (the south turn) that is infrequently used.

rafaela2
Credit to Historia TC

This circuit is where Argentina’s top series, the Turismo Carretera, truly shines. Turismo Carretera, which has existed since 1937 and been under the same ownership since 1939, is technically a stock car series. The series, which mostly runs tracks with more sweeping corners, employs double-file restarts and a Chase system to try and imitate NASCAR as best as it can, yet unlike NASCAR, which has had wavering popularity over the past couple years, Turismo Carretera has continued to be extremely popular. It’s one of the most exciting racing series in existence, but also one of the more dangerous series.

The early days of Turismo Carretera were highlighted by circuits that more closely resembled rally layouts than permanent tracks, and due to this co-drivers were often required. As the series switched to permanent layouts and temporary street circuits, co-drivers became mostly unneeded, though most teams kept them anyway. One of the teams to do this was that of Raul Petrich.

`pp
Credit to HistoriaTC

Raul Alberto Petrich was born in 1958 and started competing in Turismo Carretera in 1989. He used a Dodge in an era when Dodge did not have too many high ranked drivers in the Turismo Carretera, and frequently ran in the top 15 when most of the other drivers running his manufacturer were towards the back. Raul, who was nicknamed ‘Pepino’, or ‘Cucumber’, due to his rather imposing height of 6-foot-3 and his lean body, finished third at Parana in 1997, his best career finish. Raul, whose family owned both a service station and a flour, sugar and coal provider, also competed in the 24 Hours Of Daytona in 1996. The Team Argentina Oldsmobile completed 377 laps in the race before it broke down and retired. Raul’s team finished 36th out of the 76 starters and 11th out of the 29 cars in his class.

Rafaela was an outdated circuit by the late 90s, its barriers having not been updated since the USAC visit. This became evident when driver Guillermo Del Barrio and co-driver Luis Patti went straight on due to a mechanical failure in turn three during a qualifying race in 1997. The car collapsed the guardrail and flew out of the speedway.

34 d
Credit to HistoriaTC

The vehicle rolled violently end over end several times and came back down onto its wheels. Thankfully, the car’s occupants were unhurt besides a few bruises. As the wagon train returned to Rafaela the next year, most competitors kept this in the back of their minds, but officials reassured everyone that the barriers had seen some updating. Evidently, it was not enough.

On July 31st, 1998, two days before the planned main event, Raul Petrich was running a practice session at the circuit. He had a rather fast car and clocked an upper-midfield time, but evidently he thought he could go even faster. Raul explained to his team that he detected an issue with the car’s undercarriage that was holding him back. Oscar Lafeudo, a chassis expert for his team, offered to throw on a driving suit and sit in the co-driver’s seat, which was legal during practice and testing only. Danilo Di Napoli, Raul’s usual co-driver, hopped out of the passenger’s seat, and Oscar hopped in to try and see what needed improving.

lf
Credit to HistoriaTC; Oscar is the man on the left

The pair ran a few laps, and Raul was called into the pits at 5:45 p.m., with a few minutes left in the session. On what was planned to be his last lap of the day, a tire blew on the #63 Dodge GTX in the south corner of the oval and he went straight on into the wall at about 140mph. The car struck the guardrail, damaging it severely and breaking off the top half of the guardrail. The chunk penetrated the car at the passenger door B-post. The car bounced off of the bottom half of the guardrail and came to a stop in the middle of the corner.

f032dh06
Credit to Olé

Emergency workers arrived within thirty seconds, but when the first worker looked inside, he immediately signalled to his colleagues that the occupants were dead. 40-year-old Raul Petrich and 44-year-old Oscar Lafeudo had both perished instantly. Petrich had had his chest pieced just below the neck and had been killed by massive internal injuries. Lafeudo, on the other hand, was even worse off. The guardrail had struck him in the neck, cleanly decapitating him.

download (4)
Lafeudo’s helmet; Credit to HistoriaTC

The practice session was immediately called off and the race was cancelled shortly thereafter. Competitors mourned the loss of the duo and moved on to the next event with heavy hearts, and Rafaela installed concrete barriers for the series’ next visit the next year. Rafaela, however, continued to be a dangerous track, and it wasn’t long before another man was killed.

On April 30th, 2000, Turismo Carretera’s annual Rafaela trip came around. On lap one of the race, Diego Ponte’s Ford Falcon blew its motor and slid in its own oil. On approach to the third chicane on the entrance of the north turn, the car spun off into the grass and struck a photographer, 44-year-old Roberto Abarza. Abarza died of his injuries, and officials blamed him for standing in a prohibited area. Ponte, whose number, ironically, was 63, was physically unhurt, and the race continued onwards. But it was about to get even worse.

Turismo Carretera has several lower series, one of which is TC Pista. Basically the Turismo Carretera’s Xfinity Series, this is the junior series where drivers can show team owners what they’re made of and hopefully be promoted to Turismo Carretera. Alberto Noya was one of these competitors. By trade a veterinarian, Noya first started competing in TC Pista in 2001, and was a well known figure in the series. Not much is known about his co-driver, Gabriel Miller, but both were from the Buenos Aires area.

0000960767
Noya (right); Unsure if that is Miller on the left; Credit to TyC Sports

On July 16th, 2006, Noya was running towards the front of the field after an early restart in the TC Pista event at Rafaela when he spun in a chicane. The #39 Dodge stalled in the chicane, and before the car could be refired, was struck directly in the passenger’s door by Hugo Fayanás’ #33 car.

166679-_-d140-na-cortada
Credit to Lagaceta

Despite wearing some sort of head and/or neck restraint, Gabriel Miller, 42, was killed in the crash, the G-forces of the impact having caused extreme head injuries. Though he was extricated alive, 30-year-old Alberto Noya died three days later, his brain having suffered severe trauma due to the massive sudden horizontal movement. Fayanás was uninjured. The race was cancelled on the spot, and shortly thereafter, the Turismo Carretera race was called off. Fans were not pleased by this decision and began setting banners and tires alight, but the officials did not budge. Shortly thereafter, Turismo Carretera made an incredible maneuver.

When Turismo Carretera started in 1937, most races were through the countryside across dirt and pavement surfaces, and due to this, co-drivers were required. They’d stayed throughout the years, but with the death of Miller, along with another crash in 2004 that had also happened at Rafaela (in the same chicane no less) where a co-driver was terribly injured and was in the hospital for two months, the Turismo Carretera decided that their time was up. They were to be done away with after the 2007 season, but not even this was going to stay.

ASTELLANOS15
Credit to Diario El 9 De Julio

On April 22nd, 2007, 40-year-old Guillermo Castellanos was attempting to navigate a crash at Rivadavia when his vehicle was struck near the back axle. It was far from the worst crash in Turismo Carretera history, and Castellanos’ co-driver was able to evacuate the car on his own, but Castellanos was fatally injured, having suffered several massive fractures. Though Guillermo’s co-driver was not badly hurt, it was quickly decided that co-drivers would be disallowed starting at the next event, and as such, a seventy-year tradition ended. Racing, however, continues at Rafaela, and the Turismo Carretera continues to put on incredible shows at the ultra-wide, high-speed oval.

 

Sources:

“[Carrera Nº 917-A] – 10º fecha (suspendida) – Autódromo de Rafaela (02/08/1998)”, November 24th, 2012 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“[Carrera Nº 900] – 9º fecha – Rafaela (20/07/1997)”, May 27th, 2011 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“El dolor golpeó a La Plata”, August 2nd, 1998 post to Olé

“Tragedia”, August 1st, 1998 post to Olé

“La conmovedora historia del piloto, el perro y la veterinaria”, August 23rd, 2006 post to infobae

“Otra tragedia del TC se llevó la vida de Guillermo Castellanos”, April 23rd, 2007 post to La Nacion

“El como y por que del fatal accidente de Rafaela”, undated post to Nuevo ABC Rural

Motorsport Memorial