Driving a few tons of steel at high speeds is bound to lead to disaster at one point or another. And this has proven to be the case time and time again with some of the worst accidents the motorsport world has ever witnessed.
These are accidents that not only claimed lives but forced many organisers to alter the way the races worked, fundamentally changing motor sporting forever. Despite that, racing continues to be a dangerous sport that attracts some of the biggest adrenaline junkies in the world that aren’t afraid to take risks, similar to free NZ bingo games.
The Japanese Grand Prix of 1977
Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve has a unique place in the hearts of enthusiasts around the world. His father, Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, is well known among most fans, but Gilles was one of his day’s most exciting drivers, renowned for his daredevil approach to the sport. As he himself once said, “The easiest way to discover the boundary is to go faster and faster until you go over it.” Unfortunately, he was engaged in one of the most dramatic accidents that a Grand Prix that has ever occurred.
While attempting to overtake a competitor during the Japanese Grand Prix, their vehicles crashed, sending the Ferrari cartwheeling from Villeneuve into the sky and across an obstacle-right where the viewers were sitting. They killed a race marshal and a photographer, but Villeneuve walked away miraculously.
The South African Grand Prix of 1977
During the 1977 South African Grand Prix, one of the rarest, gruesome crashes in sports history took place. It began pretty innocuously with Renzo Zorzi, an Italian mechanic, realizing that his engine had failed, and decided to turn on the side of the road. The engine burst into fire quickly, but was initially nothing life-threatening, as Zorzi had managed to jump out of his seat and find a safe position away from the vehicle.
But two marshals made the catastrophic choice to arrive to help Zorzi. There was a dip in the track, which means they couldn’t see any cars coming up-and the drivers couldn’t see them. One Marshall, a 19-year-old boy, was struck suddenly by one of the cars. The collision left him dead instantly while the fire extinguisher he was carrying was tossed straight at the driver’s head that struck him: Welshman Tom Pryce. The extinguisher crushed Pryce’s helmet, where he too died instantaneously.
The Italian Grand Prix of 1978
It came down to some of the drivers being too enthusiastic off of the starting line, and the quick acceleration spelt disaster for those involved.
Several riders-including iconic British driver James Hunt-collided into each other, and one driver, Ronnie Peterson, “Super Swede,” smashed into an obstacle. His vehicle went up in flames, and other riders pulled out Peterson before he was burned too badly. His feet were severely harmed, but it was believed his situation was stable. If anything, physicians were more worried about another passenger who was struck with a wheel on the face. But it was Peterson who developed complications while in hospital, dying the following day.