The thing about cars and driving is that they give us a sense of freedom and excitement that we genuinely enjoy in comparison to other activities. Whether it's the motorsport industry or just plain old ordinary people who enjoy cars and love to drive, the magical sensation of being behind the wheel of a car is for everyone.
Now that we've discussed the brighter side of the coin, let’s dwell on the dark side. A driver has the control of the car and thus controls his own fate, but sometimes, even the best of the best get into trouble, and their fates are sealed. Sometimes, the urge to win clouds the judgment of the driver, and they seem to ignore critical aspects of a car that are necessary for the proper operation of the machine. Ignoring these aspects leads to catastrophic events that end in either irreplaceable loss or, worse, death. Some of the mentioned events below are related to the world of motorsport in which famous and beloved drivers have met their fate due to driver error and/or mechanical failure of the car. Some of the mentioned cases are related to famous people who are not well-trained drivers behind the wheel of a supercar or were just being plain reckless. We, here, at Hotcars, pay homage to the 15 worst driving fails that have ever been recorded so that our audience may learn a thing or two from the errors of others and strive to become better drivers themselves.
During a race, the drivers of high-powered racing cars are going at such high speeds that slowing down is out of the question. Keep in mind that these cars are going at an excess of 250 km/h. In 1995, at the Fuji Speedway Japan, during the 2nd round of the Japanese Grand Touring Championship, heavy rain and limited visibility led to the deployment of the safety car. Tomohiko Sunako was driving a Porsche 911 RSR which hydroplaned and collided with two other cars in front. A second car, driven by Ota of the Japan Ferrari F355 Challenge, collided with the crashed Porsche, causing both of them to burst into flames. Ota was trapped in the car while the flames engulfed him and his car. This incident burned Ota so badly that he had to undergo plastic surgery and suffered from limited movement in his limbs. This also ended his career.
The 2006 Bugatti Veyron is one of the most expensive production cars you can buy. The car is about $1,400,000 and has an even more expensive insurance of about double the car's original price. This brings us to a viral video on YouTube that shows a Bugatti Veyron being driven by a lake and then slowly being turned towards the shore and making a huge splash as the car is submerged in water. Reports came in that one of the first owners of the Bugatti, Andy Lee House, was behind the wheel. Andy House bought the car for a million dollars and insured it for 2.2 million dollars. Andy reports that he wasn't paying attention to the road and was trying to pick his mobile phone from the floor as the car changed direction and went off-road. Upon further investigations, there were reports that Andy House crashed the car on purpose to claim the insurance.
The death of Princess Diana was the most controversial events in United Kingdom's history. Princess Diana of Wales was born on 1st July 1961. She was the member of the royal family of Britain. Princess Diana was famous for her humanitarian works all over the world. She had extensive involvement in attempts to eradicate HIV. On 31st of August 1997, Diana died in a car crash along with her boyfriend and driver; however, her bodyguard survived. The cause of the accident was reportedly driver error. The driver was reportedly drunk with 3 times over the alcohol limit and was also taking medication that could've caused more impairment when combined with alcohol. The limo crashed when the driver lost control at reportedly 120 mph-plus speeds. This car crash fatality was one of the most influential all over the world.
An inherent aspect of going into motorsport is the ever-lurking presence of danger, injury, or death. Sometimes, things go out of control, and there's nothing that can be done. This happened to Lorenzo Bandini. Lorenzo Bandini was an esteemed Italian driver in Formula One. He raced for the Ferrari and the Scuderia Centro Sud teams. He had numerous wins under his belt, such as the 24 Hour Daytona in 1967 along with Chris Amon, who won the 1,000 km of Monza. On 7 May 1967, at the Monaco Grand Prix, Bandini lost control of his car at a high speed and crashed. This caused the car to roll over, and the sparks ignited the fuel. This led the car to burst into flames. Bandini wasn't in the car when that happened, as he was already pulled away from the wreckage. Sadly, however, Bandini suffered from 3rd-degree burns, which took his life three days later.
Taki Inoue is a Japanese driver. He was born on 5th September 1963 and competed in multiple races, such as All Japan Formula Three. It's been reported that Taki Inoue wasn't a really good driver, and to drive a Formula One is a complex task on its own. Formula One cars need specific conditions to run on the track, such as the brakes need to be hot enough for them to be properly applied, and the tires need to be hot enough to grip the road. What went wrong with Taki was bizarre. The following event may indicate driver error. The crash occurred at a practice session in Monaco when his car stalled from, most likely, improper operation. The car was being towed back to the pits to be restarted when another course car hit him and wreaked havoc on the track.
Alex Zanardi is an Italian professional racing car driver who was born on 23rd Oct 1966. He had a colorful career. In 2001, Zanardi competed at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, the race which cost him his legs. Zanardi was at the back of the other cars, and he was catching up to his rivals. During the closing laps of the race, Zanardi came to a pit stop a little late. With all that was happening, Zanardi started to lose positions, and he was desperate to catch up to them. He came out of the pit stop and abruptly accelerated, which caused his car to lose traction, and it slid towards the other cars. Two cars were behind him; one of them managed to avoid Zanardi, but the second one hit him from the side, breaking the car in half. This caused Zanardi to lose his legs, ending his career as a race-car driver.
Growing up, we always had this urge to do reckless things, which is also considered as a part of growing up. If you were like me, then you surely must have seen Jackass. Jackass was an MTV show that showed a couple of guys getting hurt in funny ways. One of the show's personalities was Ryan Dunn. Ryan Dunn was a best friend to the rest of the cast, such as Jhonny Knoxville and Bam Margera. Ryan Dunn died in a car crash on June 20th, 2011 while driving a Porsche 911 GT3. The car crashed at 212-225 km/h in an 88 km/h zone. The blood alcohol level of Ryan Dunn was twice more than the state limit, indicating drunk driving. This had a massive impact on the cast of Jackass, especially the best friend of Ryann Dunn, Bam Margera. The show was never the same after Dunn's death.
I don’t think there's a need to introduce Paul Walker, but in case if you've been living under a rock, I'll give some intro. Paul Walker was famous for the Fast and Furious franchise. Paul had always been a lover of cars, and he always loved racing. He once famously said, “If one day, speed kills me, don’t cry. Because I was smiling.” On the 30th of November, 2013, Paul Walker was leaving a charity event with his friend Roger Rodas. These men were driving the Porsche Carrera GT, which is an infamously hard car to drive. Paul and his buddy were reportedly going over the speed limit and lost control, hitting a lamppost. The car burst into flames with both Paul and Roger inside. They died on the spot. The cause of the accident was attributed to reckless driving and worn-out tires.
The Daytona 500 is a racing event in which 500 miles of the circuit are completed in 200 laps of the event. Both the cars and the drivers are tested for their endurance. 200 laps are a lot, and anything can go wrong during those laps. During the Daytona 500, on 18 February 2001, Dale Earnhardt met an unfortunate accident that killed him. Dale Earnhardt was an American professional stock race-car driver. He was the son of the racing legend Ralph Earnhardt. During this particular race, the cars were literally inches away from each other's bumpers. Dale collided with the bumper of the car in front and lost control. This caused him to collide with the wall at a high speed. Dale Earnhardt died of blunt trauma from the accident. A statue was erected in his honor at the seating area of the Daytona International Speedway.
In motorsport, there's always an urge to overtake the driver in front of you, but sometimes, it's better to take into account the situation and just back off. Eddie Sachs encountered such a situation. In the second lap of the 1964 Indianapolis 500, Eddie Sachs and sports driver Dave MacDonald met a devastating fate. During the second lap of the race, Dave McDonald's car lost control and crashed into the wall. This caused the car to burst into flames. The car was on fire while skidding towards the inside of the track. Eddie Sachs saw an opening and made a run for it. It was unsuccessful, and Eddie collided with Dave's car, killing Dave and causing Eddie Sachs's car to burst into flames. Eddie was trapped in the flaming car and died on the spot.
A race-car driver has to be perfectly fit, both mentally and physically, before a race. Sometimes, there are unforeseen circumstances that can change one's fate drastically. The same thing happened to a well-known Canadian race-car driver, Greg Moore. Greg Moore had won multiple races in the 1995 Indy Light series. Sadly, CART FedEx Championship was his last race. Moore was injured before the race when a vehicle knocked him off his scooter, injuring his right hand. He was supposed to be replaced by a backup driver, but he passed the doctor’s exam and was deemed fit for driving, with a hand brace, of course. Sadly, most likely due to his injury and/or hand brace, he lost control of his car at a high speed and crashed. Moore sustained massive head injuries and died. In his honor, there exists a trophy presented annually called the “Greg Moore Legacy Award.” His legacy lives on.
Rally races need the driver to be in fit condition to handle the powerful cars and tackle the treacherous roads. Henri Toivonen was a renowned Finnish Rally racer, who, at the age of 24, came to be known to be the youngest driver ever to win a world rally. Henri was no stranger to mishaps on the circuit. At one time, he was nearly paralyzed while racing at the Rally Costa Smeralda in 1985. His luck ran out when his car crashed on 2nd May 1986 on the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. Henri was suffering from flu but still insisted on racing that fateful day. He and his navigator Sergio Cresto were in the 600 hp Lancia Group B car. The car was extremely powerful for the track and went out of control. The car fell into a ravine and landed on its roof. The car exploded, killing both Henri and Sergio on the spot.
During a race, mistakes are made that don't seem drastic at the moment, but the result of it catches up with you, and then, it’s time to pay. The same happened to a race-car driver named "Roland Ratzenberger." Roland was a beloved driver in the motorsport industry. He was unfortunately killed during the qualifying round of the San Marino Grand Prix, the same event during which Ayrton Senna died a day later. Ronald veered off track and hit his front spoiler that provided the downforce to the car, but instead of going to the pits for repairs, he stayed on track to complete the race. During the straight run of the track, the front heavily damaged spoiler broke off and got under the vehicle. The debris resulted in loss of steering. Unable to turn in time, Roland hit the barrier at 314 km/h, which killed him instantly.
This entry is a perfect example of how a small misjudgment on a driver's side can cause fatal consequences. Gilles Villeneuve was a Canadian race-car driver and had won six races with Ferrari. He was also well known for his exciting performances. On May 8th, 1982, Villeneuve was in the last qualifying lap, driving a Ferrari for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. Villeneuve wanted to overtake another car driven by Jochen Mass. Mass realized that and wanted to give way to the Ferrari since it was at speed (200-225 km/h). Mass turned to the left as he was giving way to Villeneuve, and the Ferrari also turned left to overtake Mass. This resulted in a collision from the rear, sending the Ferrari airborne and landing nose down. The crash killed him a few days later while he was in the hospital.
Mille Miglia was an Italian race that tested the endurance of cars and drivers. It took place a total of 24 times from 1927 till 1957. The Mille Miglia is famous for being dangerous, and this was acknowledged by Alfonso ”Fon” de Portago. Alfonso was a Spanish race-car driver who died at the Mille Miglia. On 12 May 1957, Alfonso was preparing for the race at Mille Miglia. He was reportedly not concerned about his cars and the knowledge about how those machines worked. At the Mille Miglia, Alfonso was so keen on winning the race that he ignored to change the tires on his car. This caused one tire to burst while he was going 240 km/h. His Ferrari 335 S hurled over the onlookers, killing him and 9 other people. This was one of the reasons why the Mille Miglia was shut down.