Five of the worlds most dangerous motor racing tracks
Motor racing is that rare cocktail of a sport, mixing glamour, prestige, high money – and extreme danger. We’ve all seen horrific crashes where it is almost literally a miracle that anyone has managed to survive, let alone walk away. Some of these perilous tracks let non-racers loose and things can get heated – this isn’t a tootle to the shops in a Ford purchased when you click here.
1) Isle of Man TT
At certain points on your coach journey in the Isle of Man, through barren hills and mountains and along a stark and craggy coast and in small villages and hamlets, you might be told by your driver that you’re currently travelling along a section of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race. And you’ll gulp with incredulity. A massive racing event that has grown into a giant tourist festival in its own right, the race started more than 100 years ago for automobiles then travelling at an average speed of just over 30mph.
Now, in 2015, riders hurtle along the 37-mile course at speeds of up to 200mph past stone walls and country pubs. Consider the words of MotoGP’s Scott Redding who pulled out of the 2014 parade lap after describing it as “a death race”. He added: “The bikes are far too advanced for road racing nowadays. Would you drive your car at 132mph through a village?”
Redding was speaking after two men had lost their lives during last year’s event, with more than 200 fatalities in total. The romanticism and bravery of the race is often overshadowed by tragedy, and really the only way to increase your chances of surviving unscathed is riding slowly and sanitising your experience.
2) 2) Nurburgring
This course has seen numerous modifications and advancements over the decades; F1 racing legend Jackie Stewart branded the old version “The Green Hell” following his victory in 1968 through thick fog and rain. There are various sections that can be used as separate races, and the most famous is the 13-mile North Loop.
At least 68 people have been killed in horrific accidents in official races on the course near Cologne in Germany, but it doesn’t seem to put drivers off, even in fantastic vehicles such as these. It’s by no means uncommon for the track to be closed several times a day for clean-up and medical intervention.
3) Le Mans
This year, 2015, will see the 60th anniversary of the worst crash in motorsport history, when – according to official reports – between 60 and 130 spectators and competitors lost their lives in the famous 24-hour race. An horrific freak accident sent one car hurtling into the air, where it split into several pieces that hurtled towards onlookers, killing many instantly.
4) 4) Daytona
The death of Dale Earnhardt Sr is the most famous incident on the Daytona 500, a 500-mile long NASCAR race in Florida held in February. Earnhardt, one of the most famous drivers in the world, was killed on the final lap of the race in a seemingly innocuous collision with fellow driver Sterling Marlin.
Although 36 drivers have died in the competition more safety measures were introduced regarding driver safety, and Earnhardt’s remains the last fatal accident on the giant track.
5) San Marino
Another track where a racing legend was lost. Few will ever forget the fateful Sunday of May 1 1994, when Ayrton Senna was killed after ploughing into the Tamburello corner at more than 190mph, leading on lap seven of the race.
Senna’s death was the second of the weekend after Roland Ratzenberger, and again they remain the last fatalities in F1. Larger gravel traps and reworked corners were subsequently introduced following their deaths.
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