Top 10 Deadliest Race Tracks in the World
Auto racing is one of the most dangerous sports out there. With mind-blowing speed being dished out without mercy, drivers are often at the mercy of technology to keep them on the tarmac. However, accidents happen and while most are due to driver error, tracks have been known to induce them too. These 10 tracks are one of the most dangerous tracks that do not allow for a miniscule lapse in concentration even.
10. Paris – Madrid Slaughter of 1903
The cars of this age weren’t built for racing, let alone travelling from Paris to Madrid. 59 cars and 216 cars took part, not many finished though. As spectators, not yet aware of the dangers of motorsport, lined the route of the race, disaster began to strike. 45 miles outside Paris, a woman was hit & died on the spot. Inexperienced drivers, unreliable cars and a whole bunch of hooligans, as spectators, combined to form one of the bloodiest races of all times.
While most drivers hit trees and died, others rolled their cars over and died in fireballs. The high rate of drop-outs, before the race even reached Spain, led the French government to abandon the race. 8 people were officially reported to have died while the actual numbers were never released to the public. Despite the many deadly accidents, it was that of Marcel Renault, co-founder of the Renault car company, which was the most notable.
The ancestor of the NASCAR racing format, motordromes were small oval courses created with steep bankings and wooden planks. Speeds of over 120 mph were common and so were accidents. Cars & bikes often spun out of control and crashed into spectators. The tracks would cause the deaths of many riders or drivers over the course of a single race only, bringing the name “murderdromes” to the event.
08. The Mille Miglia
Open road races were banned after the Paris-Madrid debacle. This led to the Mille Miglia, a thousand mile long race that featured high powered touring cars along the highway from Brescia to Rome. The race became known for its terrifying crashes and crazy stunts such as German Hans Herrmann’s fantastically crazy manoeuvre of approaching lowered train-track barriers at high speed and then ducking to allow the cars to go under, just as soon as a high speed train came flying by.
In 1957, the Mille Miglia was banned forever after a horrific crash took the lives of 12 spectators, when Ferrari driver Alfonso de Portago blew a tyre around a high speed corner.
07. The Baja 1000
The race is held annually along the Baja Peninsula, in southern California. The land is dry and the racers bring their cars, trucks, ATVs and dirt bikes in a bid to cross the finishing line first. While the course has all the dangers of any regular rally track, with blinding turns, near-inaccessible roads, and equipment failure, the track also posed deadly threats due to spectator interference.
Throughout its history, the track has remained open to public access. This has led to the creation of buried jumps, deadfalls and other dangerous track alterations. Drivers are never aware of the high-speed traps that may lie in wait, leading to massive accidents.
06. The Macau GP
The Macau Grand Prix is more like a festival of speed. Motorcycles, touring cars, Formula 3 cars and every other form of racing takes place on this famous circuit. The course is specially designed on city streets, which means really tight corners and really long straights. Narrow streets mean there is little or no run-off space for cars, while tyre barriers are impossible to place. This means that the barriers are actually in the form of steel buildings.
After its first year, accidents and deaths became regular occurrences. Since then, the Macau Grand Prix has gained notoriety for inviting the most bare-knuckled riders & drivers since its inception.
05. The Nurburgring
Formula One has always been the highest form of racing around the world. With drivers losing lives almost regularly, in the early years of the competition, the sport was always for the brave hearted. While the mortality rate was lower, due to the high amount of attention to security, safety and technology, it was still considerably high.
In 15 years, the Nurburgring claimed 5 victims, the most of any Formula One circuit. The track was extremely high speed, with long straights and steep-banked turns, leading to numerous accidents. F1 drivers boycotted the circuit in 1969, wary of the number of deaths on it. Since 1970, more than 25 drivers, in other racing categories, have been killed on the circuit.
04. Indy 500
You wouldn’t be wrong to start thinking that 500 is a reference to the number of people killed by the race track. However, the Indianapolis 500 is, in fact, one of the most famous and gruelling races around the world. It is that one race that every driver wants to win but, on the other hand, it is also that one race that brings the highest amount of mental tension and danger to the brink of being downright fatal.
Since 1911, the track has accounted for over 40 drivers, team members and spectators, sparing no one in the process. The most bizarre incident was when, in 1931, a young boy playing in his home’s garden, across the street from the track, was killed when a stray tyre flew off of a car and hit him.
03. Man Enough for this Isle?
It is called the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT), a motorcycle race that takes place every year on the Isle of Man. Almost over 100 years old, the TT has been one of the most popular racing formats around the world. The lack of safety on the marked track is evident due to the small size of public roads the race takes place on.
At most points, the roads are extremely narrow, without any safety barriers. The barriers, in fact, are in the form of stone walls, fences or even cliffs. Since 1907, over 225 people have been killed at an average of 2 per year. With the bikes improving in terms of speed and technology, things will just get worse.
02. The 24 hours of Le Man
A 90 year old endurance race, the 24-hours of Le Mans tests the reliability and skill of cars and drivers, respectively. Held every June, the cars involved in the race have hit speeds of over 250mph on the straights. With different classes of cars participating at the same time, and all classes getting out onto the track at the same time, the difference in pace and speed of the cars, out on track, is incredible.
Accidents are commonplace and while there have been only 24 deaths till date, the format of the race has changed considerably since the earlier era, to make things safer. Le Mans also holds the infamy of being host to the worst car race crash in the history of the sport.
In 1955, Pierre Levegh crashed after coming in contact with another car. Levegh’s car hit the retaining wall and catapulted over it and landed in the dirt. This propelled it to roll over towards the spectators, killing 84 and injuring over 100 people.
01. Paris-Dakar Rally
The race is all about craziness, excitement and insanity – and is incomparable to all other races on the planet. The race is not just the most dangerous in the world, it is also the most difficult. With entries involving everything from SUVs to dirt bikes, the race has been known to produce some horrendous accidents. Drivers have torn up the countryside, hit livestock and other vehicles, and have also been blamed for starting a wild fire that led to the death of three people.
The race has always been tough for competitors and there have been instances when contestants have gotten lost on this expansive track. In 1982, Mark Thatcher, son of English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, took part in a Peugeot 504. While travelling through the Sahara desert, his car broke down. As the team mechanic, he stopped to get his car going again and by the time it did, his team had already moved on. It was 6 days before a search plane spotted them 30 miles off course, totally by chance.
The race has, since its inception in 1978, resulted in the death of 49 people. However, this number is very less as compared to the actual tolls claimed by locals who say that a number of pedestrian and livestock deaths have occurred due to this rally.
Related news & articles
Friday August 8
Formula One has always had loads of glamour, break-neck speeds and the cutting edge in technology. More
Friday August 3
Automobile safety is important regardless of whether you are on the highway or on the racetrack, and the auto racing industry has made new innovations to protect both their drivers and the visiting spectators. More
Wednesday July 23
Formula One is at Hockenheim this weekend, for the tenth round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. More
Sunday September 2
Formula 1 racing, otherwise known as F1 or the Grand Prix, is clearly the most expensive sport in the world. More