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.
In 1988, during the very last NASCAR race at Riverside, Garcia drove his #32 Pick-Your-Part Chevrolet Monte Carlo car into the top 20, but on lap 29 of 95, it all came to an end. Something broke and the car veered hard left off of turn nine. The car entered an opening in the barrier and struck an angled steel guardrail protected by a tire wall, which was easily folded by the car. It went through a chainlink fence from there, then collapsed a brick wall with a set of barrels behind it. The car came to a halt against one final barrier protecting the crowd, and Ruben got out of the car unhurt, but he did not start any further Cup or West races after that.
41. MASS DQ AT THE ITALIAN F3 FINALE (2012, ITALIAN F3, MONZA)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 21ST
As national and regional Formula Three leagues start to fall by the wayside and Formula Four begins to take over as the go-to for national leagues, the amount of national F3 leagues thin to a point where as of 2017 there are only five: Japan, Brazil, Austria, Australia, and Switzerland, a ‘Formula Three’ league in Britain that actually just runs souped-up F4 cars, and two European leagues, one of which, European Formula Three, will be merging with GP3 in 2019.
Italian F3 concluded a run which had begun in 1964 in 2012, and its last race was rather controversial. Ten cars, two Mygales and eight Dallaras, entered the Monza finale, with Romain Agostini’s Mygale leading with 240 points over a pair of Dallaras, Brandon Maisano, who had 229 and Eddie Cheever III, who had 227. Cheever won race one and was able to gain a few points on Agostini, but then it all went downhill.
For reasons I could never find described beyond ‘technical infractions’, Cheever and Maisano were both disqualified from race two, handing Agostini the championship. It then proceeded to worsen when all eight Dallaras were disqualified from race three. Once again I never found a specific reason, but every Dallara in the field was disqualified, leaving only two cars classified: Romain Agostini and fellow Mygale Nicholas Latifi. What a way to wrap up forty eight years of racing…
40. ARCA FINISHES A RAIN RACE (2010, ARCA, PALM BEACH)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 18TH
As mentioned earlier, ARCA can be a bit of a fail series from time to time. However, it’s actually done something that NASCAR’s top series has never done: run a rain race.
Rain racing is part of motorsports. Every now and again, drivers throw on some rain tires and inch their way around the circuit. Stock cars very, very rarely rain race, however, mostly because it’s almost always only a road course thing. Races like the Daytona 500 can’t be held in the rain, of course. NASCAR has rain raced on an oval once before with its European division at the Tours Speedway, a literal parking lot oval with drainage systems which permit racing in a light shower, and has run a few rain races in the Xfinity Series. The Cup Series has never used rain tires in a race, however. Not including the Elkhart Lake race in 1956, which came in a day where drivers could use almost any kind of tire they wanted as long as the tires were a certain width and height, the most the Cup Series has ever done in the rain is a practice session. Yet ARCA, usually seen as the joke series, ran a rain race at Palm Beach in 2010, and it went over just fine, with Justin Marks bringing home the trophy. Pretty ironic that the lower series accomplishes one of the toughest jobs in motorsports, something the top series has never even tried, isn’t it?
39. A DRIVER GETS TASED (2017, FIGURE EIGHT, ANDERSON)
NEW TO LIST
Racing is heated, but sometimes fights can get out of hand. There was, of course, the fight between Michael Simko and Don St. Denis at the 2006 Glass City 200 at Toledo where Simko dropkicked St. Denis’ windshield, but at a figure eight race at Anderson Speedway in Indiana in 2017, things got even worse.
During a race in mid October, Jeff Swinford and Shawn Cullen were unable to stay off one another, apparently colliding three times during a duel for the top spot. After one last bit of contact, Swinford drove his #3 car straight for Cullen’s stalled #33 vehicle. Swinford drove his car atop Cullen’s nearly crushing Cullen, and Cullen, infuriated, rushed out of his car and began punching Swinford repeatedly for a good thirty seconds, requiring an officer’s interventions.
Cullen was tased by the responding officer, and both drivers were arrested. According to the Associated Press, Cullen was charged with disorderly conduct, and Swinford was charged with misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Despite Cullen being tased, Swinford was the one being hung out to dry, as due to what was seen as a calculated maneuver to both attack Cullen and damage his car further, Swinford will likely never be allowed back to the Anderson Speedway, and was also fined all of the money he earned during all races he ran at the Anderson Speedway in 2017. Cullen was suspended for at least two events for leaving his car before the red flag could be flown. Both were DQ’d from the event as well.
38. REPEATEDLY HITTING THE SAFETY TRUCK (1998, RENAULT MEGANE, ZANDVOORT)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 17TH
Masters of Formula Three’s relevance and necessity has decreased with F3 itself. The race, which is held at Zandvoort, saw 47 entries in 1998 and only 16 in 2016, and wasn’t even held in 2017. However, Zandvoort is a good track choice for the race, with its undulating turns and many sand pits, the track is far from easy.
During a Renault Megane support race during the Masters of Formula Three weekend in 1998, a driver by the surname of Van Der Waals crashed on the end of the second lap after hitting some debris, sending his car airborne, but not injuring him. A local yellow was waved, and a safety truck arrived to assist Van Der Waals, who was standing near the barrier for whatever reason.
Two cars dueling for position entered the last bend, and they both spun out. Van Der Waals hopped over the barrier just in time, and was forced to watch as the pair slammed into the back of the safety truck, knocking it into Van Der Waals’ car and sending the Renault to the inside of the circuit. Another safety truck arrived on scene, only to get rear ended by another spinning car. The first safety truck was then hit hard by a car that just didn’t turn. According to Ritzsite, no injuries were reported, and the race was red flagged and run to completion later that day.
Zandvoort’s social media said that the cause of this crash was a mix of the drivers not respecting the yellow flags and the day’s Meganes being bulkier and much easier to lose control of if the throttle is suddenly lifted.
37. JOHN PRIOR FLIPS AFTER THE RACE (1985, ARCA, DUQUOIN)
NEW TO LIST
Crashes after the race ends are rare, but they do occur, as drivers often still have a rush of adrenaline coarsing through their veins even after the checkered flag falls. Technically, Austin Dillon’s terrible crash at Daytona in 2015 was after the flag, though drivers were still at speed, as Daytona is not somewhere where you can slow down after the race. The one mile dirt oval at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois is not a superspeedway, yet John Prior proved that these accidents can happen anywhere and still be spectacular.
Lee Raymond was class of the field at the 1985 ARCA race at DuQuoin, passing Gary Bettenhausen early and, for the most part, hanging on to the lead for the rest of the 200 mile race. After Bettenhausen fell back, Dean Roper was the one chasing Raymond, though with the exception of a pit stop cycle he never passed him.
John Prior’s #00 and Bob Brevak’s #34, however, were the ones putting on a real show. The pair apparently traded the third spot several times in the last few laps, with Prior prevailing. Prior, a local driver, beat Brevak in a side by side duel, then proceeded to slide right into the turn one guardrail and flip his car after the checkered flag had already flown. Prior was okay.
36. RON FELLOWS’ STRANGE MANEUVER (2011, NASCAR N’WIDE, ELKHART LAKE)
RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 11TH
When NASCAR takes to Elkhart Lake, everyone wins. They always put on a wonderful show, and unexpected winners are frequently seen, with Nelson Piquet, Brendan Gaughan, the luckless Michael McDowell, and even independent veteran Jeremy Clements possessing victories at the circuit. In 2011, when the race was still a 200 miler rather than its current 180, road racing expert Ron Fellows was hoping to be that surprise winner. So when Justin Allgaier ran out of fuel under the race-ending yellow and Reed Sorenson was slowing down even further, he zoomed on by and was picked up by the pace car. However, when NASCAR reviewed the footage, they eventually gave the win to Sorenson. Why?
You cannot pass under yellow, of course. However, if due to driver neglect, a dry fuel can or mechanical issues, you are free to. There is no need to stay behind a driver who has stalled on the track. Sorenson did slow down, but not by very much, and he quickly got back going. After all, he’d just seen his teammate run out of fuel. Fellows appeared to read the rules too literally, seeing Sorenson slightly slow down and assuming he was out of fuel when he wasn’t. Sorenson was given the win at the end with Fellows second, and Fellows was not penalized further.
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.
During a qualifying session at Kyalami in early November 2017, Craig wrapped up his lap and shifted to the inside, where he collided with Johann Engelbrecht’s Porsche GT2 RS. Johann spun his Porsche into the wall, and Craig, who according to Engelbrecht’s team was unaware of Johann’s presence, backed his Ferrari 458 GT3 into the steel guardrail, sending the sleek sports car rolling end over end. Both drivers were okay, but Johann’s Porsche was badly damaged, and Craig’s Ferrari was a write off.
Despite this all, Craig posted to his Facebook within a few days of the crash that he’d acquired a new Ferrari, apparently having received an insurance payout. Insurance? On a Ferrari you use in racing? That’s news to me…
34. TAXBRAIN STEALS JUSTIN PHILPOTT’S CAR (2006, SUPER LATE MODEL, ALTAMONT)
NEW TO LIST
Forgiveness is a privilege to some.
In the mid 2000s, Justin Philpott was one of the up and coming super late model racers in California, running at Altamont and Stockton 99. He eventually caught the eye of tax sorting company Taxbrain. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more, and they decided to steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont Speedway, but no one else, and on August 13, 2006, they executed their plan. According to the East Bay Times, an unnamed actor hopped the fence, got in the car while the Philpotts were celebrating a win, and took off. He did about two or three laps before being stopped by a combination of Justin’s brother and a wrecker backed onto the circuit by track officials.
After a lengthy investigation, undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain, and no charges were filed. Bizarrely, however, Justin Philpott chose to keep Taxbrain for his moving up to the All American Series in 2007. In fact, Philpott, who is still racing in southern California and is still very successful, made one of the strangest moves I have ever seen a racer make. Instead of leaving a sponsor who conducted a stunt that could have easily killed him and his family behind him…
…Justin stayed with Taxbrain for about another five years. So uh…are you sure that’s a good idea, Justin?