NASCAR is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Fast cars and intense and aggressive racing can sometimes lead to a catastrophe when the destroyed car is the smallest problem. This article focuses on ten the most thrilling moments in the history of NASCAR - the dangerous sport and spectacular theater in one form.
10. President Reagan Himself Watching the Show
It was 4th July 1984 when Richard Petty won his 200th and the last NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway. One of the members of the of the crowd watching the show was the 40th president of the USA, Ronald Raegan who was the first president in history to visit the NASCAR race.
9. Photograph Deciding the Winner of the First Daytona 500
The first Daytona 500 took place in 1959, and the finish line was crossed in almost the same time by three drivers - Johnny Beauchamp, who was credited as the winner immediately after the contest, John Weatherly, and Lee Petty - the father of Richard Petty. The finish was marked on the photograph, but the modern technologies which would analyze it haven´t existed yet. It was up to human eye to decide the winner. The final decision was made after three days, when Bill France, Sr. the founder of the NASCAR declared Lee Petty as the winner.
8. Fight in Daytona 500
Racers are sometimes warriors not only on the road as was proved in 1979. It was the first NASCAR race broadcasted whole by the TV, and it attracted lots of people to the screen. The fight was provoked by the crash of Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in the last lap. When Donnie´s brother Bobby came to drive his brother back to the garage, he and Yarborough had a fist fight over the crash.
7. The Only African American to Win
During the 1960s, the racism was still adamant in the USA, and when Wendell Scott won the NASCAR Cup Race in Jacksonville, Florida, the officials didn´t want to have a black man kissing the white beauty queen during the traditional ceremonial, so they denied him his victory. However, a several hours after the end of the race, NASCAR confirmed that Wendell Scott won the race and he remains the only African-American to do so in the elite Sprint Cup series.
6. 20th Successful Try of Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt, the legendary NASCAR racer was a traditional contestant of Daytona 500 and many times was near the victory, but never succeeded. In 1998, however, he finally won the race, and this victory was celebrated not only by the racer himself but also by the other teams who paid their respects to the elite driver.
5. No Unions in NASCAR
Many sports in the USA have an active players´unions but that is not the case of NASCAR. There were only two times when the drivers wanted to create a union which would fight for their rights. In 1961, the initiative of Curtis Turner and Teamsters led to the lifetime ban for the racer and in 1969 Professional Drivers Association declared a boycott on the race at Talladega since they considered the track unsafe. When NASCAR didn´t care about it and held the race anyway, the attempt failed. No one tried to form the union since then.
4. Terrible Crash of 2013
NASCAR can be sometimes dangerous also for the audience. That happened in 2013 when one terrifying crash happened at Daytona International Speedway. 12 cars were involved in the accident, and car parts were falling down on the crowd in the stands. More than 30 fans were injured, thankfully, no one was killed and also all the drivers left from the crash without the scratch.
3. Hendrick Motorsports Drivers Fight for the Title after the Plane Crash
It was about a month before the end of the season in 2004 when ten people, mainly the employees of Hendrick Motorsports and their families, died in the plane crash. Two drivers of the Hendricks Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson were still fighting for the title and tried hard to win the championship despite the terrible atmosphere in their team. However, they were beaten by Kurt Busch despite having excellent results in the final four races - Johnson won two and Gordon reached the top three places in three of four races.
2. Champion Decided by the Final Race
The season of 2011 was decided by the very last race which resulted in the finish which never happened before and probably will not take place for a long time in the future. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards fought for the overall victory with Edwards leading the table by only three points. The last race was won by Stewart with Edwards finishing second, so both racers were tied. The title went to Stewart who had more victories than Edwards.
1. The Death of Dale Earnhardt
Earnhardt was a legend of NASCAR and the first member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and when he died in the 2001 Daytona 500 crash, it was a dramatic and terrifying moment. His death led the directorate of NASCAR series to promote the greater safety of the drivers, so no one died in NASCAR ever after.
Image credit: Torqueandtread.com