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

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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 place an asterisk next to the layouts that are still used.

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
REOPENING IN 2018

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: 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. 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.

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. Might be 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 the early 70s.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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Power hits the wall as Wheldon strikes the fence just off to the left of the shot; Credit to Mirror
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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.

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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.

Double Downs: The Survival Of Larry Pollard

NASCAR in the late 90s and early 2000s was defined by three words: ‘basilar skull fracture’. Between April 2000 and March 2001, five drivers, rising star Adam Petty, young talent Kenny Irwin, Jr., veteran racer Tony Roper, racing legend Dale Earnhardt, and motorsports newcomer Michael Roberts all died due to basilar skull fractures.

However, the basilar skull fracture, which is a rare injury outside of motorsports, is not a death sentence. It’s usually fatal, but not always. It’s possible to survive one, as has happened three times in NASCAR. Rick Carelli in 1999 and Stanley Smith in 1993 are the more well known cases, but there has actually been one more: Larry Pollard.

pollala01
Credit to Racing Reference

Larry, a native of British Columbia, had several connections to the NASCAR circuit. He was Richard Petty’s crew chief for a time, led the late Roy Smith to two Winston West championships during the early 1980s, and was married to Harry Gant’s daughter. He began racing on the Busch Grand National Series circuit in 1985 and soon found himself running up front running for Hubert Hensley, Jimmy’s father. Larry was an unlucky driver, as he frequently ran up front only to blow up towards the end. When Pollard did finish, he usually did very well.

On August 9th, 1987, Larry surprised everyone with a victory at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia. He took the lead a bit past the 3/4ths mark when Larry Pearson, who had dominated the race up until that point, faltered, and held off Robert Ingram to take the win. Interestingly, the other race at Hampton that year saw another surprise win in short track expert Mike Alexander, and in a bizarre coincidence, Larry’s home province had, until the mid-80s, a short track named Langley Speedway.

During the 1988 Coke 600, Harry Gant blew a tire and went straight on into the barrier. Gant broke his leg and was forced to sit out the next few races. Gant tapped his son-in-law to take over his #7 car in the Busch Series until he recovered. Larry ran up front during his first race in the car, the Budweiser 200 at Dover Downs, but he would never finish it.

Pollard started the June 4th race in the upper midfield and worked his way up into the top ten across the course of the race. While he was on his 194th lap, Larry’s car went straight on into turn three and struck the wall with incredible force. It slid back down the track, almost striking the car of Joe Bessey, and came to a halt at the inside of the corner. The caution flag was flown while medics tended to Pollard, and current leader Brad Teague was told to slow down by NASCAR, possibly due to the crash’s seriousness. Bobby Hillin zoomed by Teague while racing back to the line, but since Teague had been told to slow, Hillin was ordered to give the spot back and order to the pit lane. Realizing their error, officials decided to reverse their decision a few laps later. It didn’t matter anyway, as Teague ran out of fuel under caution and had to pit, but Hillin took the checkered in one of the more confusing finishes in NASCAR’s history.

It took 15 minutes to extricate Pollard from the car, but he was eventually removed and rushed directly to the hospital via ambulance. He was placed in the ICU, but surprisingly was awake, alert, and semi-responsive. The basilar skull fracture was a known injury in 1988, and within a few days Pollard was diagnosed as having suffered one. Doctors weren’t sure if he would recover, but after two days he was placed in serious but stable condition.

Not much is known about his recovery, but Pollard healed on his own and was eventually discharged from the hospital. Pollard returned to the Busch Grand National Series the next year and ran six more races in the series before heading elsewhere.

Larry, 63 as of June 2017, moved to North Carolina sometime before 2001. He currently races super late models now and again at the Concord Speedway. Larry also manages a go kart track, known as Pollard Raceway Park, in Taylorsville with his son Chase. His career not yet over, Larry is simply a man who loves to race, no matter the level of competition.

 

Sources:

“Hillin cautiously wins the Bud 200”, June 5, 1988 edition of The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware)

“Tire switch helps Elliott to victory”, June 6, 1988 edition of The Chicago Tribune

“Larry Pollard 98”, circa 2001 article from Luvracin.com

A brief conversation with Chase Pollard

The bit about Pollard being awake and alert seems unbelievable, so I will give you its source right here: The 6/6/88 of The Chicago Tribune, which I listed above

Justin Philpott And The Fools At Taxbrain

I’m aware that, as an analyst and a journalist, I should withhold my opinion as best as I can, but this…this is just ridiculous. A sponsor risks the life of a driver and his entire family for a publicity stunt, and the driver allows bygones to be bygones. I’m not sure who the more foolish one is.

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Justin in 2006; Credit to Stockton 99

Despite this all, Justin Philpott’s talent is evident. Philpott, the driver involved, mostly raced super late models at the half mile Altamont Speedway and quarter mile Stockton 99 Speedway, both in California. He eventually caught the eye of the company Taxbrain, which helps its consumers sort out their taxes so those taxes can be paid much more easily a la Turbotax. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more. Some executives, who were undoubtedly chastised if not fired after this all, decided that they would 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, but did not tell the announcer, Justin’s family, or even Justin himself, all to make things look genuine. On August 13, 2006, Taxbrain got to show its lack of common sense after Justin won a super late model race at the track. During victory lane ceremonies, a man, unnamed by the media for legal reasons (I will refer to him as John for the sake of this, it likely is not his name, but for the sake of this article it will be), hopped the fence, got in the car, and, with a camera or two rolling, flipped the ignition switch and took off. The announcer noticed this quickly and called for security, while Justin and his family stood there for awhile, absolutely dumbfounded. In the meantime, John continued doing laps in Justin’s $200,000 car. Eventually, some officials hopped in a wrecker and backed it down the track, and John slowed to a stop. Ryan Philpott, Justin’s cousin, ripped John from the car, and John was arrested.

Taxbrain’s representatives quickly ran over to the track security and explained what was going on. After some cross-referencing, police discovered that this had indeed been a stupid stunt. John was not charged, but undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain.

How no one was hurt despite John’s insane driving (this was part of the stunt) and lack of any safety gear, the world may never know. John could have easily killed himself or the Philpotts. However, that isn’t the end of the idiocy.

Justin also proved himself to be one of the duller knives in the drawer. Despite the fact that his sponsor had stolen his $200,000 race car, he still re-signed Taxbrain to another year when he moved up to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series in 2007. Incredibly, he stuck with Taxbrain for a long time. The two only parted ways sometime between in 2011 and 2014.

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Justin in late 2010, note the Taxbrain sponsor on his uniform; Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks
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Justin in early 2014, note his sponsor is now his family’s auto body shop, Philpott’s Garage, with no visible Taxbrain logos; Credit to Stockton 99

Altamont Speedway closed after 2008, but Justin still races in the Southwest, and is quite successful at that. I’m not sure if Justin was naive, forgiving, or if Taxbrain paid him a lot of money to keep them aboard (probably a mix), but if I were him, I would have told them to mess off. John could have killed himself and/or the Philpotts, and Justin’s forgive and forget attitude towards it all is almost as strange and as laughable as the incident itself.

 

End Of The Beginning: The World Trade Center Grand Prix

Built in 1973 and brought down on September 11th, 2001, the twin towers stood magnificently over the horizon of New York City. Two thousand, nine hundred and seventy eight innocent lives were lost that day fifteen and a half years ago, with all but about 225 being in New York City at the Towers. I barely remember that day, though I do remember it. The sight of smoke over the horizon is something that you just don`t forget. The fact that I could see it despite being well over forty miles away just shows you the magnitude of the disaster.

People from all over were killed. I personally believe four or five residents of my town perished. My town is not exactly one where everyone knows each other, as it`s actually quite large, but it`s still a town where crime is infrequent and murders happen maybe once every five to ten years. The daily routine is: You get up, you go to school/work, possibly pulling into a gas station if need be (I live in New Jersey, so we don`t pump our own gas, which I actually love), you attend school/work, you do anything else you need to, you come home, and that`s that. It`s a large town with a bit of a small town feel, so that day is still spoken of frequently here.

Which makes it all the more understandable why no one remembers what happened on February 26, 1993. On that day, a bomb was set off in one of the towers` basements, with the intention of causing it to domino onto the other tower and bring both down. It was a powerful bomb, but didn`t have the intended effect of felling the towers. Even still, it did cause a high amount of destruction and chaos: well over a thousand injuries were reported, nearby residents went without television signals for a week and power overall for five hours, and six lives were lost. The perpetrators were caught and brought to justice, but after 9/11, this attack is rarely noted.

The attack on Feburary 26th also had another bizarre, and indirect, effect: completely ending any chance of the CART Grand Prix Of New York being held.

Blurry AF, sry
Credit to Grandprix.com

Scheduled for either June 27, 1993, or July 11, 1993 (I`ve heard both), the Marlboro CART Grand Prix Of New York was first proposed in 1990 and was announced in 1992. A race in downtown New York had been something organizers had wanted to do since the beginning of motorsport, yet the closest they`ve ever gotten was, or will be, the shoreline streets of Brooklyn later this year for a Formula E race, though there have been a few karting events on short street circuits every once in a while.

The track itself was, suffice to say, not enough either, though due to its location its simplistic layout was justified (it didn`t require the closure of too many streets). It was 1.3 miles, and about eight or so turns, five major ones with the rest being small kinks. The track encircled the Twin Towers, and as such is often remembered as the World Trade Center Street Circuit. The race was apparently going to be between 180 and 200 miles, meaning they`d probably be either 139 laps for 180 miles, 144 laps for 187 miles (300km), or 154 laps for 200 miles. The Lights race would likely have been 58 laps for 75 miles, as that was the usual length of Lights races around that time.

Upon this announcement, the Meadowlands Grand Prix was almost immediately cancelled. The Meadowlands Grand Prix was held at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, not too far from the city. The race at the Meadowlands was already losing steam around that time, but with the announcement of the New York race, the organizers quickly bailed on the East Rutherford event and called it off. They learned some time later that bailing was a big mistake. Many of these organizers thought that it was just the end of the beginning for the New York GP, and that, with the race finally announced, it would be held and be a huge success.

In fact, it was the beginning of the end.

The big problem with the race, besides the obvious closure of the streets and the need for them to be repaved, was in the sponsor – Marlboro. The entire country in general was sort of doing an anti-smoking crusade, as all withheld effects had been released to the public in the late eighties, and the government had started to crackdown on tobacco advertising. New York`s mayor, Michael Dinkins, was staunchly for the crackdown, and had banned tobacco advertisements from sports arenas in the city in 1990. Dinkins promised a series of small events and programs geared towards children to teach the dangers of smoking. So the race, which Marlboro had wanted to basically be a big Marlboro advertisement with billboards everywhere, was also planning on holding several events geared towards youngsters showing them that smoking was unhealthy and unbecoming. Marlboro voiced their displeasure, leading to concerned parents on one end and an angry sponsor on the other.

While the logical move would have likely been to find a middle ground, it`s safe to say that there was no middle ground. These were the early 1990s, after all, the public had recently learned that all the harmful effects of tobacco and asbestos that had been conspiracies for the longest time were truthful, and they were extremely distrustful of big companies in general. Marlboro`s next move was never disclosed, though with Dinkins not budging on the kids` events, they likely decreased the amount of money they were feeding into the event. The event pretty much sat on a table for a few weeks after that, but Marlboro did eventually agree to some anti-smoking billboards in certain sections of the general area. However, the political hypocrisy, as one writer called it, had taken its toll.

In early October, the Marlboro Grand Prix Of New York was called off. The cash flow from Marlboro did not make up for the logistical issues in closing off major streets in New York City and repaving those streets for a CART race. The attack on February 26th, 1993 sealed its fate, with the city pouring millions into its own recovery.

New York has tried several times for a race in or near the city limits. Throughout its history, several F1 street circuits have been proposed, including one in Flushing Meadows in 1985 and Central Park in 2009, plus several downtown circuits throughout the seventies and eighties. Several speedways have been proposed as well. One just outside the city limits came close to being built in the late eighties before some key players in the project were arrested, and a 1.35 mile trioval by the name of Liberty Speedway was proposed in 2003, with the man at the helm of the project being none other than our current president. But, at the end of all roads lay failure for every project to host a race near the American center of commerce, and the World Trade Center street circuit was no exception. The Formula E race in July will be the first time a major event has been held in New York`s streets, and even then it`s a fair distance from downtown.

A History Of The NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series

In the early 1970s, compact cars were huge for whatever reason, and NASCAR, wanting to pander to another market, formed the Dash Series. The NASCAR Goody`s Dash Series began in 1973 running solely at North Wilkesboro, and in 1975 it branched out elsewhere. At this time, it was known as the Baby Grand Nationals. The first race of the new series was at North Wilkes, but the winner is actually unknown. According to the ASA logbooks (yes, the ASA, I`ll explain why later), it was Gwyn Bullis, but NASCAR stated that Bullis never won in the series. Either this was a non-points event, or NASCAR screwed up, I dunno which, but in any case, the series ran twelve races throughout the South that year, and Dean Combs was the champion. Competitors that year are mostly unknown today, though there were a few names such as Larry Pearson, Roger Hamby, Tommy Houston, and Ronnie Thomas.

1979 saw the first running of the Goody`s Dash Daytona race, a 40 lap race won by Mike Watts in a field which included Phil Parsons. It would soon be doubled in length to 80 laps.

In 1980, the Baby Grand National Series became the International Sedan Series. Despite being an International Sedan Series, however, Opels and Datsuns served as the only distinctly international cars that they used. Even still, with the cars it ran, it was able to hold its own identity. Here`s a list of cars run in the Winston Cup in 1980, keep in mind that the Riverside opener in 1981 was the last race in which the full body beasts were run:

Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Ford Thunderbird
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Buick Century
Mercury Montego
Dodge Magnum

And here are the cars used in the Dash Series that year:

Chevrolet Monza
Chevrolet Vega
Ford Mustang
Ford Pinto
Dodge Challenger
Mercury Capri
Oldsmobile Starfire
Pontiac Astre
Pontiac Sunbird
Datsun 200SX (?)
Opel Kadett

In the series` early years, Dean Combs absolutely dominated seasons on several occasions. In 1977, he ran 19 of the 23 races, winning ten of them. Combs was still the champion at year`s end with 434 points, 72 ahead of second place Larry Hoopaugh, who had run at least 21 races (due to missing records, it`s unknown as to whether or not he ran more than that) and won twice. He ran all 20 races in 1981 and won 14 of them. Interestingly, Combs eventually switched to a Datsun 200SX and netted them a few victories.

In 1982, Combs moved elsewhere and only ran part time in the series, allowing Hoopaugh to decimate the field. He won seven of the 11 races that year, including the final six rounds. The schedule had almost been cut in half between seasons, with one of the races dropped being a 300 miler at Talladega, which had been held for the first time in 1981. 1981 would prove to be the only year the Dash Series ever ran Talladega.

So far, Combs and Hoopaugh had been the only two champions. 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, and 1981 had seen Combs on top at season`s end, and 1978, 1979, and 1982 had gone to Hoopaugh. 1983`s champion was a little surprising.

Michael Waltrip, at the time just starting to become well known, was champion in 1983, when the series adopted the extremely bizarre `Darlington Dash Series` name…despite the series` Darlington race not even being very long (69 laps for 150km, when Daytona was by this point a 200 miler). Waltrip was the first champion in the series not named Combs or Hoopaugh. Fields around this time included a few names, such as Billy Standridge, Ed Berrier, Joe Littlejohn, Jr., and James Hylton, Jr. (the latter two are really only known for their fathers).

1983 also saw another notable event when Toyota decided to throw their hat in the ring for the first time, and what better way to do it than with a future superstar? Only one driver showed up with a Toyota to the 1983 opener at Daytona, but that driver was a young man by the name of Davey Allison. Allison did not stay very long in the Dash Series, and soon moved to ARCA.

The Dash Series also had its fair share of longrunners. Mickey York, Larry Caudill, and Mike Swaim, Sr. competed for many, many years in the series, and all of them won many times. Swaim was champion in 1984. In 1985, the series changed its name yet again, to the NASCAR Daytona Dash Series. Swaim again picked up the title.

In December of 1985, tragedy struck. 1985 runner up Dr. Charles Ogle was running a Pontiac tire test at Daytona when something went on the car down the back chute and he flipped over. No one saw the crash of Dr. Charles Ogle, who died several days later of massive head injuries, but it appears that he dug in or struck an access road on the backstretch and slid on his roof for several hundred yards. As to what caused the head injuries, it appears he may have struck his head on the roof of the car, but that could never be confirmed. With Ogle`s death came another death: Butch Lindley had been comatose for a couple of months since his violent All-Pro crash at DeSoto, and Ogle had been planning on having him transported to Indianapolis, where the best doctors for injured race car drivers in the country are. This never happened, and Butch died five years later without regaining consciousness, though it`s often believed that even if he had received treatment in Indianapolis, he would have, at best, been a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

In 1986, the series changed its name again, to the Charlotte/Daytona Dash Series. Hut Stricklin was the 1986 champion after dominating the second half of the year and pulling away from second place Rob Moroso. Larry Caudill was the 1987 champion in convincing fashion.

1987 saw the series` second fatality, again at Daytona, when 38 year old Joe Young spun in the middle of a corner and was struck by Duell Sturgill. Joe died shortly afterwards.

1988 was an inspirational year, with two female drivers running towards the front on a number of occasions. Larry Caudill battled hard at Daytona that year with Karen Schutz, but Caudill eventually prevailed. Schutz came second, and third place, a whole lap back, was Shawna Robinson. Shawna then stunned the racing world by winning a race that year at Asheville after both Robert Pressley and Caudill ran into issues while leading. Caudill was the champion again in 1988.

Mountain View
Credit to Roger Reuse; This is his car in 1988

In 1989, Schutz, who had been a frontrunner the past few years, headed elsewhere, but Shawna stayed in the series. She would win twice in 1989 at Lanier and Myrtle Beach. The championship battle was very close that year, coming down to the wire between multiple-winner Larry Caudill and the consistent Gary Wade Finley. Finley would be crowned champion in the end. NASCAR dropped the `Charlotte/Daytona` after 1989 and switched car types from compact to subcompact.

The switch of car types saw a large rise in the amount of drivers running Pontiacs. A few ran Fords and Oldsmobiles, with one or two Chevys and Nissans. Robert Huffman was the 1990 champion, Johnny Chapman was champion in 1991, and Mickey York netted his only title in 1992. Goody`s was signed as the sponsor during the offseason. It would hold the name NASCAR Goody`s Dash for over a decade.

The series` third fatality was at Daytona in 1993, when 51-year-old journeyman Joe Booher was struck by Rodney White off of the trioval, dying a few hours later. Rodney Orr was the champion at year`s end, overcoming a surprisingly decent field including David Hutto, Donnie Neuenberger, Dan Pardus, Will Hobgood, Kerry Earnhardt, and the regulars in Caudill and York. Orr, of course, never got the chance to show his talent, as he was killed during Daytona 500 practice in 1994.

From 1994 on, the series lost all relevance. It was still shown on television, usually via tape delay, but no one really cared about it. Will Hobgood was champion in 1994, David Hutto in 1995, Lyndon Amick in 1996, Mike Swaim, Jr. in 1997, Robert Huffman in 1998, 1999, and 2000, Cam Strader in 2001, Jake Hobgood in 2002, and Huffman again in 2003, after which NASCAR picked up that no one was advancing and dropped the series.

Angie Wilson
Credit to the Auto Channel; This is Angie Wilson prepping her car in 1999

A few interesting things did happen, however, during this period of time. They were mostly humorous.

1994: Dave Stacey hits the earth bank on the inside of the backstretch of Daytona and goes flying. His car flips into Lake Lloyd, making him the third person to enter the lake in Daytona`s history (first was Tommy Urban in 1960, second was Bay Darnell in 1964).
1996: Mike Swaim, Jr. spins down the backstretch during Daytona practice and tips onto two wheels. He somehow saves the car and drives away.
1997: George Crenshaw flips at Daytona.
1998: AJ Frank and Will Hobgood flip in the same crash at Daytona.
1999: Jimmy Foster and Brent Moore flip in the same crash at Daytona. During the same race, Danny Bagwell hits an access point in the turn four wall and rolls about ten times. The car shreds itself to bits, but Bagwell is unhurt. Eric Van Cleef, a road course specialist, enters the Dash Series. He runs a Toyota Celica Coupe, marking Toyota`s return to the Dash Series.
2000: Eric Van Cleef flips at Hickory after jumping another car`s hood, and Scott Weaver rolls out of the lead at Orange County after riding the wall. Weaver started in the Dash Series in 1984, and had to that point only won twice. Apparently, Weaver flipped eleven times in his crash, the most confirmed rolls by a Dash Series car…which is only relevant because this crash happened at a 3/8ths mile short track and not a superspeedway.
2001: The Dash Series runs a July race at Daytona for what would be the only time. Jeff Underwood and Jimmy Britts flip at Daytona Spring, Derrick Kelley goes over at Charlotte, and Scott Redmon flips during the July Daytona race.
2002: Van Cleef returns to road racing. Cam Strader flips at Orange County after a weight shift. Yes, a weight shift. At a 3/8ths mile track.

Bagwell`s crash
Credit to Alamy; After a scary crash, Danny Bagwell over-exerted himself trying to get out before the safety officials arrived, and is seen here taking a short break; While the picture looks concerning, I must stress that Bagwell was okay
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Screencap; Bagwell is seen here getting to his feet

So, with NASCAR seeing no point to the series, and with the compact car craze that had piqued NASCAR`s interest and caused them to form the series now thirty years in the past, it looked like the Goody`s Dash Series was through. In October 2003, Buck Parker decided he couldn`t let the series die, and purchased it. The Goody`s Dash Series had been revived again, this time as the iPOWERacing Dash Series.

This would prove to be a big mistake, and would destroy the Dash Series once and for all.

Growing up, Ray Paprota always wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. Not long after he joined, however, in 1984, Ray was involved in a traffic accident, and was paralyzed below the neck. He was eventually able to regain control in his arms, but never his legs. He eventually set his sights on making the United States wheelchair basketball team for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, but was injured and had to withdraw before tryouts.

For a living, Ray worked as a mechanic. He garnered an interest in racing himself, and eventually decided to take to the legends car scene. One day while doing some racing in Alabama, he and George White, the former `Bama Gang member, met one another. White, who had worked with the Allison family for many years, had since started working for a company that manufactured parts and equipment for the disabled.

Soon, Ray met Bobby Allison himself. Allison`s career had ended all the way back in 1988, yet he still was going to therapy frequently. Bobby agreed to mentor Ray, and Ray set his sights on the ARCA Series, a goal that was quickly dropped due to financial difficulties. Still not giving up, Ray Paprota chose to race in the Dash Series.

Ray Paprota chose a Pontiac Sunfire as his car, and it was outfitted for him. Since Ray, of course, couldn`t use the pedals, levers were instead installed on the car at the steering wheel. He passed his tests and got a license to run in the series. Unfortunately, it was 2003 by this point, and he only had time to run three races before the series folded. Even still, these three starts made Ray the first known paraplegic to run a national stock car series.

When the iPOWERacing Dash Series was announced, Ray hopped aboard immediately. Buck Parker had managed to secure a contract to race at Daytona, and Paprota was permitted to run. He towed the #0 Sunfire to the track and got ready to take to Daytona for the first time. Paprota passed his rookie testing, and drivers were informed of his disability. In a somewhat questionable move, organizers asked drivers if they were comfortable racing with someone who couldn`t walk, which they all said they were. Ray wasn`t fazed by this, and qualified the car in the midfield, twenty-fifth of thirty-eight to be exact.

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Credit to Rollingpix; Note that Paprota switched from #0 to #01 after Daytona, which is why his car here is #01

The field really didn`t have any major names by this point. Danny Bagwell had begun to dominate races, but the only really notable drivers running in the iPOWERacing Dash Series were Chris Fontaine, Caleb Holman, Johnny Chapman, and Mike Skinner`s son Dustin, along with ARCA longrunner Darrell Basham. Mercurys and Pontiacs filled most of the field, with a few Toyotas and a Ford as well.

When it came time for the 150 mile race on February 8th, however, car #0 would not start. The crew found an issue and got to work as the rest of the field took to the circuit. The first caution quickly flew on lap nine for Billy Clevenger and Tony Billings colliding in turn three, warranting an extended hospital visit for Billings and a very long yellow flag. During the caution, Paprota`s car finally started. He was told that he`d be waved around once, and then would join up at the tail end of the field. Paprota enjoyed his medium speed lap of Daytona, but unfortunately he wouldn`t make another one.

 

Roy Weaver, full name Roy Holland Weaver The Third, was born on February 19th, 1959, three days before the first 500, in Alabama. He joined Daytona`s track worker squadron in 1996 or 1997, and was an eager individual who had more energy than most people his age. He was married to Linda Weaver, with three children, Rebecca, Rachel, and Roy IV, whom they usually just called Rolly. The two were together for 21 years. Besides that, not much else is known about him. All in all, Roy`s life seemed happy, if not a bit average.

Weaver
Credit to the Augusta Chronicle; This is the only picture that I could confirm to definitely be of Roy Weaver

Weaver alerted his truck`s driver to a piece of debris in turn two, and the driver acknowledged. The driver of the truck parked in the inside grass and Weaver climbed the banking in the corner, stumbling at least once. Ray Paprota, trying to catch up to the field, rounded the corner and came across Weaver. Ray Paprota flipped the lever to activate his brakes and spun the car hard to the left, but he wasn`t even too late, there wasn`t a thing he could have done. Paprota struck Weaver at about one hundred miles per hour, killing the 44-year-old instantly. The Pontiac backed up the circuit and into the wall, and Paprota, shaken but hoping that he`d dodged Weaver, drove away to the pit lane.

Paprota pulled into the pits, and the rest of the field was directed pitside a few minutes later as well. Weaver was completely and utterly beyond help, and the broadcast team was quickly informed during a commercial break. They signed off after the break ended, sounding shocked and saddened, but never specifying why, as Weaver`s family had yet to be informed. The flags were lowered to half mast, where they would remain for the rest of Speedweeks.

Ninety minutes later, the red flag was lifted and the race was resumed, while at the same time officials informed both Paprota and the Weavers of Roy`s loss. Scott Weaver, no relation to Roy, led for most of the race, which had been shortened to forty laps. However, Weaver fell back late, and Danny Bagwell ended up winning. In another sad irony, the driver who had been running just behind Paprota – and had gotten a clear view of the incident – was Jeff Tillman. This was the second time in two years that Tillman had to witness a horrible fatal accident at a race track. In 2002, Tillman had been in the Rolex Sports Car Series, and was teammates with Jeff Clinton. During practice for the Homestead race, Clinton was racing down the front chute when his roll bar snapped during a series of flips. Clinton died from internal decapitation (i.e. this happens when the spine is severed from the skull, but the skin, veins, muscles, and nerves stay connected; it`s possible to survive this under the right conditions, but unfortunately Clinton did not). Weaver`s death was the 36th in Daytona history, and first since December of 2001.

Police were called in, and Ray was almost immediately cleared of any negligence. Within a few days, he was found to be blameless altogether. The police focused their attention on the actions of Roy Weaver, and found several shocking events that had led to the tragedy. In the end, blame was placed on the track crew. The track workers had:

– Neglected to inform race officials that they were stopping to gather some debris, in which case officials would have relayed the information to the drivers
– Parked in the infield grass instead of on the outside; the truck acts both as a shield and a cue that there are marshals at work, but was impossible to see in the grass from Ray`s position
– Roy had almost crawled up the 31 degree banking, and apparently tripped at least once, slowing him down considerably
– Roy was likely unaware of Paprota and that he was trying to catch up to the field

The promoters also made some odd decisions:

– Remaining under caution for so long (the first caution flew on lap nine, and the incident happened on lap nineteen, why was there no red flag?)
– Continuing the race despite a police investigation that had already gotten under way

Who the debris came from was never discerned, to my knowledge.

The Daytona Int`l Speedway was praised for how they handled the investigation. With the crash of Dale Earnhardt, the Speedway had allowed RCR full access to the race car before either the media or the police arrived, but this time, the police were able to investigate first before Ray`s team was allowed the car back.

The Weavers quickly filed a wrongful death suit, which was settled four years later. In the meantime, they applied and were chosen to compete on the eighth season of The Amazing Race reality series. Usually The Amazing Race has teams competing in pairs, but for season eight only, families of four competed instead. Two challenges had to do with racing, a few laps of a Phoenix karting facility, and a lap of Talladega on a bicycle. In the end, the Weavers made it to the last leg and came home third, a good effort…though host Phil Keoghan later said that the Weavers were incredibly rude and unprofessional, noting that he had to reprimand them at least once.

Ray Paprota returned to legends cars after 2004, and has since retired. He`s still quite vocal online.

As for the Dash Series…

The Dash Series was ruined by the death of Roy Weaver. Of course, the media ran headlines noting how the driver involved was a paraplegic in a clear case of sensationalism, which ended up adding on to the already-increased attention brought upon by this being a race on the Speed Channel at Daytona, and the series simply crumbled. Most tracks backed out and many races were cancelled that year. The eventual schedule possessed seven races, Daytona included. Johnny Chapman nipped Danny Bagwell for the title.

Buck Parker really wanted out of the series, but agreed that he`d at least give it an attempt in 2005. Pretty quickly, however, it became clear that the Dash Series was done for. The Daytona opener was cancelled, and soon after, so was the rest of the schedule. Parker tried to sell the Dash Series, even posting it on eBay for one hundred thousand dollars, but there were no takers.

In late Spring, the ASA offered to take up the Dash Series as a southeastern short track series. Buck Parker accepted, and the ISCARS Dash Series came around. It only ran four races in 2005. Wade Day won the 2005 championship, 2006 went to Eric Wilson, 2007 and 2008 to Danny Bagwell, 2009 Jason Schultz, and 2010 and 2011 Bagwell once more. All of these seasons were extremely unremarkable.

By 2011, the series that once showed the world that international makes could run in NASCAR was now awaiting the firing squad, with Bagwell winning 11 of the 12 races that year in fields as small as five, with the largest field being fourteen. To show just how little future the series had, TrackForum user Red Byrd shared a story in which he asked for, and got, a partial refund on account of the racing being poor.

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Credit to LinkedIn; Note that the 83 is a Honda Accord

The ASA, already looking to either end or sell off its remaining series and return to its roots as a sanctioner of short tracks, chose the former fate for the Dash guys. Even in 2004, when the ASA National Championship was falling apart, it still had good field sizes. In this case, there was no interest, no money, no competitors, and no hope. The Dash Series was over, Danny Bagwell being the final series winner in a 100 lap race at Hickory. The Dash Series would try again under independent sanctioning in 2013, but no season ever materialized.

Even still, the Dash Series has a legacy. Despite being a bit of a joke series towards the end of the nineties, it gave us Michael Waltrip, Hut Stricklin, Ed Berrier, Billy Standridge, and, most importantly, had been the series that piqued Toyota`s interest in running stock cars. Without the Dash Series, it`s unlikely that the Camry would be running in NASCAR at all. So, yes, the Dash Series did produce some good things and some talented drivers to boot. And isn`t that what a feeder series should be doing in the first place?