This past weekend saw another Daytona 500 conclusion, with Matt Kenseth taking the checkered flag after rain called the 500 off after 152 laps. Slick surfaces or not, Daytona’s Speedway is home to many great victories, and some of the most catastrophic collisions in racing history. Many survived, but some were not as fortunate. Take a look at Automopedia’s Top 10 most insane Daytona 500 crashes – in chronological order from the first flag drop in 1960 up to 2009’s finish line.
10 – 1960 Daytona 500 Pile-up
An amazing 37 vehicles were taken out of this historic race as a crash causes some of the era’s top racers to spin, flip and smash from wall to grass. It’s fantastic to see not only everyone make it out alive, but to witness the lack of driver safety gear and equipment inside the cars. It’s also cool to hear the old school sportscaster and watch everyone walking in that oldie-time fast motion.
9 – 1976 Daytona 500 Crash Finish
Motor Sport and NASCAR Icon Richard Petty was a mere lap away from taking home a victory in Daytona during this 1976 season. But second place driver Davie Pearson was going to take every opportunity to beat Petty. This is one of the most spectacular come-from-behind finishes in racing history!
8 – 1982 Daytona 500 – Turn One Crash
Turn Number One can bring just as much disaster as any, case in point: a 1982 Daytona 500 engine blowing and in-field smash up featuring (yet again) Richard Petty.
7 – 1988 Daytona 500 – Richard Petty crash
Petty just can’t keep his cars out of trouble, but when you’re a legend attracting attention (both good and bad) tends to be a hazard worthy of the yellow flag. It is spectacular he survived!
6 – 1999 Daytona 500 – Bobby Hamilton Gets the Spins
Good ol boy Bobby Hamilton did more than a couple of spins with just 25 laps remaining during the 20th century’s final Daytona race. Not only did he just barely miss hitting other drivers, he also couldn’t find the pinata his pit crew hung over their port.
5 – 2001 Daytona 500 – The Death of a NASCAR Hero
2001’s Daytona 500 was the saddest day in modern race history as it saw Dale Earnhardt Sr. taking his final lap. During the tail end of race day Earnhardt took turn three and slammed into the wall after making contact with another racer’s bumper. Some speculate Earnhardt was not properly fastened into his car; one thing we know for sure – an angel of the race track has moved on to a better place.
4 – 2003 Daytona 500 – Ryan Newman Does Flips
Ryan Newman has been a favorite of Automopedia since we stole a cutout of him from a New Jersey Mobile gas station in 2002. Just one year later Newman found himself in one heck of a spin out during the Daytona 500.
3 – Daytona 500 – Greatest. Daytona Finish. Ever.
Few times in your life will you witness a race like 2007’s Daytona 500. A major crash sent cars sideways and upside down sliding across the finish line, along with a picture perfect checkered flag wave. To date this has to be one of the most insane Daytona finishes ever.
2 – 2009 Daytona 500 – Joey Logano Head First into the Wall
There must be nothing more frightening than traveling at 200 miles per hour…sideways. Check out Yesterday’s Daytona head first smash into the wall, courtesy of Joey Logano.
1 – Was 2009’s Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Crash – Intentional?
Speculation has filled fan sites, forums and sports news room since the somewhat aggressive accident that many say was caused by a steamed Dale Earnhardt Jr. You be the judge.