There's not a NASCAR fan alive that doesn't enjoy a good wreck down the stretch. The drama involved, the impact it has on the race, and just the pure site of a car plummeting into the air and down the track is enough to make any fan's heart race.
But, more comes out of these wrecks than just an awesome site. Over the years these crashes have molded and innovated the sport to make it safer for the drivers.
Here's a list of the most brutal crashes that shaped NASCAR into the sport it is today.
NASCAR has made a huge jump from then to now—these cars look like they're racing in mud. The cyclists in the Tour De France are cruising at higher speeds then these poor fellows. The crash looks like it was caused by my grandma and her 1960 Volkswagen. It took out 37 of the 68 participants.
Rusty gets kissed in a fight for position between two cars ahead. This slight tap caused Rusty's Thunderbird to take flight and tumble multiple times down the track.
The slightest mistake can cause devastation in NASCAR. Wallace gets clipped from behind sending his car airborne once more.
This second incident involving Wallace caused NASCAR to implement a new safety measure before the '94 season—roof flaps were added to the top of the cars. They open automatically when the car is spun around. When the flaps open, they obstruct airflow across the roof and kill the low pressure formed over them causing the car to stay grounded.
NASCAR superstar, Richard Petty loses control of his Plymouth Road Runner and collides into the wall at Darlington Raceway. Fans saw Petty flailing around in the cockpit.
Window safety nets became mandatory later to keep the drivers inside of the car during a wreck.
Reigning rookie of the year, Ryan Newman, loses control of his No. 12 car and ends up in the wall.
From there he slides down the track, glides into the air and crashes down into the grass sending his car into scraps of metal. The rear axle flies into the air giving the crash a very dramatic look.
2007 Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick edges out Mark Martin for the win with the entire field in shambles behind them.
Clint Bowyer crosses the finish line on his roof. If it counted, he would have finished 18th. Notice how Bowyer is driving the Jack Daniels car, kind of ironic huh?
Kasey Kahne glides down the track just a bit, but it was enough to send Sam Hornish Jr into the tire wall. The crash caused a domino effect involving Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton.
Gordon seemed to take the brunt of it all as he connected hard with Hornish.
Gordon's car cam really shows the intensity of the impact.
Talladega 1987, Allison's right rear tire blows on his Buick LeSabre causing the car to propel into the guard fence. The car bursts into pieces sending debris into the crowd.
No one was seriously injured, however this forced NASCAR to put restrictor plates on the cars during fast tracks such as Talladega and Daytona.
Talladega 2009, Carl Edwards, in a failed attempt to block Brad Keselowski, takes a shot right in the back left quarter panel and spins out. Then Ryan Newman catches the spinning Edwards sending him airborne. Edwards landed hard and his car imploded. Thankfully, Edwards walked out without any serious injuries
Keselowski would go on to get his first win. Seven fans sustained minor injuries when Edwards flew into the fence.
Earnhardt was battling fellow Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin for position. Marlin, in an attempt to pass, exchanges paint with Ford rival Ernie Irvan sending Marlin into Earnhardt's side. Earnhardt's No. 3 car tumbled down the track in chilling fashion.
This was Earnhardt's worst crash up to this point of his career. He called it "the ride from hell."
R.I.P Dale Earnhardt Sr. (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001)