PostHeaderIcon Historic Racing Crashes That Revolutionised Car Safety

Motorsport racing events are considered some of the most thrilling and death defying sports in the world. However, this extreme thrill brings with it a sense of looming danger that puts the lives of racers at great risk. Over the decades, the safety aspect of racing events has earned the most importance, and rightly so.

Racing events have seen several tragic ends to the illustrious careers of many racers and in some unfortunate incidents, their lives. However, it was these tragedies that improved racing safety in hopes of reducing the chances of more accidents in the future.

The HANS device

A tragic crash at the Daytona Motor Speedway in the United States prompted the authorities to introduce the HANS device, a head restraint setup to prevent serious injuries to the head and neck. The mechanism triggered by the tragic loss of Dale Earnhardt in 2001 has saved many lives in the past decade.

Impact protection

Counted among the most horrifying car crashes in the Formula One circuit, Martin Donnelly’s car exploded into many pieces after colliding with the barrier. Travelling at a staggering speed of 140 mph, Donnelly was left alive with severe bruises on his lungs and brain. The tragic incident in 1990 prompted Formula One to use better protective methods, allowing the cars to absorb violent impact.

Quick accident response

Immediate medical attention from skilled and trained track marshals is invaluable to injured racers on the track. The importance of providing timely assistance was fully realised after Roger Williamson was trapped under his car that flipped at the British Grand Prix in 1973. A similar incident occurred at the Italian Grand Prix in 1978 when Ronnie Peterson’s car crashed into a barrier and eventually caught fire.

Kill switch

At a practice session at the NASCAR Series in 2000, Adam Petty suffered a severe skull fracture, dying immediately after a head on collision with a wall. A few months later, Kenny Irwin Jr. suffered a similar fate, dying of the same injury as Earnhardt and Petty. NASCAR then implemented the kill switch to immediately switch off the engine in emergencies like mechanical failures and loss of control.

Limited use of fuel

In 1964, Dave McDonald hit the tracks with a newly designed vehicle that ended up causing chaos at the Indianapolis 500. Spinning out of control, the car hit a wall and burst into flames and continued to damage other cars after a violent roll back. Driver Eddie Sachs was caught in the explosion and died immediately while McDonald passed a few hours later. This caused the US Auto Club to place restrictions on the amount of fuel carried at a time.

Modified pit and grandstand

Probably one of the biggest disasters in the history of motorsports, the horrifying accident in 1955 resulted in a modified safer design for the grandstand and the pit crew. To avoid hurting the pit crew, Mike Hawthorn slammed on the brakes, accidently hitting them at over 150 mph! This accident cost the lives of 83 people.

Lily is an expert associated with POA Racing, a dedicated online store for everything related to motocross safety. The store offers safety gear like helmets, motocross clothing and other accessories from top leading brands.

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