Professional racing boasts extremely high safety standards, keeping drivers and attendants safe. However, despite high safety standards accidents do still happen. This list does not celebrate professional racing accidents but rather acts as a sombre reminder of what can happen on the road. If drivers aren’t careful, terrible accidents can occur.
Fuji – 1998
The crash that occurred at Fuji in 1998, the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC) is extremely controversial. When Tetsuya Ota slammed a Ferrari F355 into a Porsche both vehicles burst into flames, putting the drivers in immediate life-threatening danger. The most shocking part of the crash is that safety marshals were very slow to respond. Many speculate that if a fellow driver hadn’t jumped into action, using his fire extinguisher on the blaze, there would certainly have been fatalities.
Mille Miglia – 1957
The crash at Mille Miglia in 1957 is amongst the most horrific in history. Even the stoutest racing fans are sure to gasp when seeing it, given the horrendous cost of 12 lives. After a tyre burst on Alfonso de Portago’s 335S, the vehicle skidded off the track, bounced into a ditch, and crashed into onlookers. The driver, co-driver and 10 bystanders met their end, all due to the astonishingly lacking safety standards in 1957.
Safety standards are, thankfully, far better today. Fans these days can enjoy mobile pokies on their phone while watching racing events live. Thank goodness.
Monaco – 1967
Another horrendous crash, and another fatality due to poor safety standards. In 1967 Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari smashed into a guard rail, skidded into a light pole and burst into flames. When safety marshals attempted to rescue him the car exploded.
Most safety professionals today believe Bandini could have been saved, assuming that the correct safety steps were taken. Today safety marshals would ensure that fuel did not make contact with the heated exhaust, perhaps avoiding the explosion entirely. Sadly, in 1967 the essential safety steps were not in practice.
California Speedway – 1999
Another video that will make race fans gasp in horror, Greg Moore’s death at the California Speedway is horrendous. The controversy here is as to whether Moore should have been given the green flag to race at all. A hand injury the day before robbed him of full driving agility, yet he had been cleared to race.
It isn’t certain if the hand injury is the reason for Moore’s accident, but there is heavy speculation that he should not have been allowed to operate a car. He died at just 24 after smashing full speed into a wall.
Safety Standard Revolution
Racing events around the world have seen a heavy increase in safety standards, due largely to the accidents listed here. While the deaths are unquestionably tragic, it is gratifying to know that professional racing accidents are far less frequent and that pro racing is more popular than ever. It’s just a shame that fatalities seem to be a requirement before safety standards become a priority, at least where professional sporting events are concerned.