Timeline of Auto Racing Tragedies

Updated April 8, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
NASCAR racecar

Dale Earnhardt and other recent auto incidents

by John Gettings
1991 1992 1994 1996 2000 2001

August 11

NASCAR driver J.D. McDuffie is killed in an accident during the Budweiser at the Glen Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen, N.Y.


August 13

Three days before the Champion 400 at Michigan International Speedway, 27 year old Clifford Allison—son of Bobby and younger brother of Davey—is killed during a practice run.

May 15

Philippine IndyCar driver Jovy Marcelo, 27, is killed in an accident while practicing for his first Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


February 11

Four years after suffering a serious head injury in a crash that threatened his career, NASCAR veteran Neil Bonnett, 47, is killed on the first day of practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

February 14

Three days after Bonnett's crash (the day of his funeral, in fact), 31 year old rookie driver Rodney Orr dies from injuries sustained in a practice run crash at Daytona.

April 30

Formula One rookie Roland Ratzenberger, 31, of Austria, dies during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy.

May 1

Three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna, 34, dies during the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, of injuries he sustained after his car went off the track, slid across a long grassy area, and hit a concrete wall. A national hero in his native Brazil, President Itamar Franco declared three days of national mourning and closed schools on the day of his funeral.


May 17

IndyCar veteran Scott Brayton, 40, wins the pole position for the 1996 Indianapolis 500 but is killed after a tire deflation causes his car to crash into a retaining wall during a practice run at the Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. He becomes the 40th driver to be killed at the sports' most famous race track.

July 14

Rookie driver Jeff Krosnoff, 31, dies from injuries sustained in an accident on the 92nd lap of the 95-lap Toronto Molson Indy at Exhibition Place. Krosnoff's car made wheel-to-wheel contact with another car, sending it into the air, over a concrete barrier, and into a tree. A track employee was also killed in the accident when he was struck by Krosnoff's wrecked car.


January 11

NASCAR truck series driver John Nemechek, the 27 year old younger brother of Winston Cup driver, Joe, dies from serious head trauma during an accident at Homestead, Fla.


September 11

Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) driver Gonzalo Rodriguez, 27, of Uruguay, is killed during practice for the Shell 300 at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif.

October 31

CART series driver Greg Moore, 24, of Canada, dies in a crash in the final race of the 1999 season at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Moore lost control of his car at 220 mph on lap 10 and crashed into a wall, sending his car into wild spins.


May 12

NASCAR driver Adam Petty, 19, is killed after his car spins out and crashes into the wall in Turn 3 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. A fourth-generation NASCAR driver (along with great-grandfather, Lee, grandfather, Richard, and father, Kyle), Petty was practicing for a Busch series race the following day.

July 7

Eight weeks to the day after Adam Petty's crash, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kenny Irwin is killed in the same turn on the same race track in Loudon, N.H., during practice for the thatlook.com 300. Irwin's car hit the concrete wall and flipped on its roof. Both Irwin's and Petty's crashes at the speedway are blamed on a stuck accelerator that prevented the drivers from slowing down.

October 13

NASCAR Craftsman Truck series driver Tony Roper, 35, dies in a crash during the O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. Roper's car brushed another during the 32nd lap and slammed head-on to the wall, bursting into flames and spinning out of control.


February 18

Seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, 49, dies in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Earnhardt is killed when his car bumps Sterling Marlin's car and spins out, is hit on the side by Ken Schrader's car, and crashes head-on into the outside wall at approximately 180 mph. Earnhardt is the 27th driver to die at Daytona since the track opened in 1959.

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