While car racing is one of the most exciting, adrenaline-charged forms of motorsports, it is also one of the most dangerous. The world of racing has seen its share of tragic accidents, terrifying collisions, and fatalities.
Today, safety measures coupled with technological advancements have helped make race tracks safer than before but the chances of accidents and collisions are still there.
There are famous race tracks across the world that have a reputation of being extremely challenging and dangerous yet race enthusiasts seek them out because they offer thrill and excitement that can’t be matched elsewhere. Here’s a list of some race tracks that have tested ace racers in both mental and physical capacities.
10 Dakar Rally
Though Dakar Rally is technically not a race track, it is one of the most challenging off-road vehicle competition that motorsports enthusiasts flock to see or participate in. The endurance race takes places in a variety of forms, across different countries. However, one thing remains the same, the tough terrain.
At Dakar, amateur and professional drivers have to overcome challenging obstacles including sand dunes, mud, and grass before they can reach the finish line. Unfortunately, this daring race has also witnessed a high number of fatalities with reports suggesting a number as high as 50 since 1977.
9 Carrera Panamericana
Carrera Panamericana was an endurance race that only lasted from 1950-1954 but it featured one of the most dangerous racing tracks in recent history. The races were held on public roads in Mexico as well as the Panamerican Highway, covering a distance of approximately 2000 miles, and were attended by thousands of spectators.
The second last race, which took place in 1953, resulted in nine casualties, including the death of Felice Bonetto, an Italian racing driver and one of the pioneers of Grand Prix racing.
In 1988 a La Carrera Panamericana revival event was organized but this time changes were made to enhance safety measures for race car drivers.
8 Guia Circuit
The Macau Grand Prix is an annual motor-racing event that takes place at the Guia Circuit. Each year drivers and spectators flock to this Chinese to witness the unmatched sporting action that is provided at this 6.2 km street circuit.
Macau’s street racing track has witnessed high-octane action as well as tragic accidents over the course of its existence. The track is known for being extremely challenging because the city streets are very narrow which means that even small error can lead to catastrophic consequences. So, the circuit, featuring multiple hairpin bends, poses as the ultimate test of the driver’s skills and capabilities.
7 Daytona International Speedway
Dayton beach is not only home to the most popular stock car racing event in the United States but also features a track that’s notoriously dangerous. Daytona International Speedway, the 500-mile-long track, hosts NASCAR motor race every year and witnesses the most daring endeavors from both professional and amateur racers.
The menacing track has claimed around 25 lives including that of seven-time NASCAR champion and one of the most iconic NASCAR racers Dale Earnhardt. February 18, 2001, was a sad day in the history of NASCAR when Dale Earnhardt lost his life in a three-car crash on the final lap of Daytona 500.
6 The Nurburgring
Nürburgring has famously been named the ‘Green Hell’ by Jackie Stewart, a former British Formula One Racing Driver. The track is spread across a winding 12.7 miles stretch that features a combination of technical corners, sharp turns, and difficult terrain. To top it off the unpredictable weather conditions make it tough for even professional drivers to drive on this track.
While safety standards have definitely improved, the track still remains one of the most challenging ones out there. According to reports, over 70 drivers have lost their lives while racing at Nürburgring.
5 Autodromo Nazionale Monza
The Monza Circuit is one of the oldest permanent race tracks in the world that hosts the Formula One Championship. Since 1922, it has been a place that combines thrill and andenaline-charged action for racing enthusiasts.
It features three tracks, the 3.6 miles Grand Prix track, the 1.45 miles Junior track and a 2.6 miles high-speed oval track which rarely gets used now. It is one of the most demanding tracks and has claimed over 80 lives since it opened in 1922. Two-time F1 champion, Alberto Ascari, and German racing professional, Wolfgang von Trips, lost their lives at the track.
4 Spa Francorchamps
Spa Francorchamps is one of the most convoluted racing tracks in the world and it takes a lot of skill, technique, and precision to master this track. Perhaps the most difficult part of the track is the steep uphill Eau Rouge corner which also has a hairpin bend and a blind summit.
Amongst other racing events, the track also hosts Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Since it was launched, this dangerous track has claimed the lives of 23 drivers. This is one of the reasons why the layout of the track has now been altered significantly.
3 Targa Florio
Targa Florio was one of the oldest racing events in the world. The open road sports car race was launched here in 1906, in the mountains of Sicily, Italy, and continued to take place until 1977.
The racing track was considered one of the most intimidating not only because of the terrain and road structure but also because the circuit, comprising of public roads, was dangerously close to public property and homes. The spectators were also in such close proximity to the racing tracks that it raised safety concerns.
Today, this race has been converted into rally event which is a part of the Italian rally championship. This is rally event is far from the original format of the race.
2 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not only one of the most popular racing circuits amongst racing enthusiasts but is also one of only three tracks in the world that have been named the Triple Crown of Motorsports.
In its 100+ years of existence, the track has seen iconic racing stunts as well as devastating collisions. The track has witnessed multiple fatalities in the past because in the early days of motorsports there were fewer safety measures and no modern technology. It has been reported that over 60 people have lost their lives at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
1 Circuit de la Sarthe
The 8.4-mile-long Circuit de la Sarthe hosts the 24 hours long Race of Le Mans. One of the reasons why this is one of the most dangerous tracks is that for 4 mile straight cars can ramp up their speed, up to 260mph, and continue to race at such high speeds. When you add a long time duration and exhausted drivers to this high-speed mix, the results can be troubling.
Though overall the fatalities at this track are fewer than some others, it has witnessed one of the most horrific crashes in the history of motorsports, in 1955, where a Mercedes somersaulted into the crowd, killing 83 spectators and the driver Pierre Levegh.
This incident not only sent shockwaves across the motorsports community but also led to the enhancement of safety measures or even completely ban of motorsports (in the case of Switzerland).