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Five top terrifying motor racing crashes where drivers walked away

Bryan Edwards
Publication: 

We all know motor racing is dangerous, be it F1, MotoGP, Indycar, Aussie V8s or any of a host of lesser series. But safety developments have been such that most drivers and riders walk away from the most devastating crashes. Here are some that have been spared serious injury, never mind death, by those improvements, many of which began with the work of Prof Sid Watkins, Ayrton Senna and Sir Jackie Stewart.

MotoGP - Jack Miller - French GP - qualifying - 2017

There are almost no words that can explain just how horrible this is to watch. The front wheel digs in, the bike goes off line, hits a bump and starts to tumble along with the rider who is invisible most of the time. Shaken, Miller got to his feet and took part in both qualifying and the race. Are MotoGP riders made of rubber? The run-off area and the soft barriers were obviously helpful.

 

F1 - Jenson Button - Monaco 2003

It's difficult to have a really big accident in Monaco but Button's exit from the tunnel started to go wrong long before the corner and his BAR Honda was bounced from barrier to barrier until coming to a halt looking like a piece of silver foil tossed away after unwrapping a Kit-Kat (in the days when Kit Kat was the real thing). He didn't walk away: in fact it took 15 minutes to extract him and get him onto a stretcher and into an ambulance. With the resilience of a 23 year old driver, the next morning, after a night in hospital, he was pleading to be allowed to race. Watkins said no.

 

F1 - Monaco - Alex Caffi

In 1991, Alex Caffi in his Footwork managed to find a way to have a big crash in Monaco, too. The car hit the barrier, spun and flew into a million pieces of shrapnel but, early in the development of the safety cells, Caffi was a major beneficiary. There was no car left except the part around his seat. Remarkably, his legs were intact and, he got out of the remains of the vehicle pdq.

 

F1 - Ricardo Zonta - Belgian GP 1999

This is one of the most remarkable pieces of film in motorsport history: Zonta's car disintegrated all around him but he climbs out of the safety cell almost before it has come to a complete halt.

 

Indycar - Indianapolis 500 2017: Scott Dixon

This is, perhaps, the most stomach-wrenching accident of all as the car, upside down, lands on top of a wall while the engine is ripped off and flames erupt. Then, as the slow-mo demonstrates, the driver was tossed around like a sock in a tumble dryer. But Scott Dixon, who had only two days earlier been held-up at gun-point by two children at a Taco Bell drive-through, climbed out of the shell and walked, unaided, to a course car. The other driver, Jay Howard, seemed initially more affected by his apparently less serious impact but Dixon had t-boned him. .

 

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