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Old 04-23-2017, 12:09 AM
 
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So, let me start out, we're going to expand slightly beyond the 90's here, and i'm not focusing on deaths that were on-track exclusively. Active NASCAR competitors across the top two/three series. Why two/three? There were only two until 1995.

Most people think NASCAR was pretty safe through the 90's.. That wasn't true at all.. On track or off. Everyone remembers Earnhardt in '01.. Some remember Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr.. But few remember or have even heard of Grant Adcox.

I'm going to try to cover all deaths from Adcox in the season finale at Atlanta in '89 to Earnhardt in '01. There are ALOT of them.. So, I've done my best on this, but my memory sucks.. So, if I've forgotten any.. Chime in.

We start our list with Grant Adcox. Adcox was an ARCA racer more than anything who dabbled in Cup racing, making only 60 starts in 11 years leading up to his death, mostly for his family owned team. This is a guy who was somewhat snakebit, as in 1975 at Talladega, his crew chief died of a heart attack in the garage, his spot in the field was given to Tiny Lund, who died on lap 7 of the race. Adcox shares some similarities with the last person to die on our list, Dale Earnhardt (arguably), in that a broken piece of equipment contributed to his death. Adcox hit the wall at Atlanta so hard it ripped his improperly mounted seat from its' mounts. His cause of death is somewhat disputed in that he had massive head and chest injuries and then suffered a heart attack.

Rob Moroso was the 1989 Busch Series Champion and was running for ROTY in Cup when he was involved in an auto accident outside Charlotte after the 1990 North Wilkesboro race. Doing 75 in a 35 mph zone with a blood alcohol level of 0.22, he lost control and collided with another vehicle, killing himself and the driver of that car. His girlfriend and a passenger in the other car survived. He was posthumously named 1990 ROTY.

Mike Rich - I'm including this one.. Non-driver death, however, perhaps the second most influential death in racing as we know it today, and most people have no idea who he is. Mike Rich was a tire changer for Bill Elliott. At the season finale in 1990, he was changing the tires for Elliott when Ricky Rudd crashed into Elliott's car on pit road, crushing Rich. He is another that had massive head and chest injuries complicated by a heart attack on the operating table. His death led, eventually, to pit road speed limits. Though early in the 1991 season NASCAR was breaking the field up into 2 for pitting.

JD McDuffie was.. He was.. Dave Marcis before Dave Marcis. We can't call him the last of the independents, because more came after him, but he was one of the last. Owner/Driver and holder of a record in NASCAR. The most races run without a win. 653. He was killed at Watkins Glen after having a wheel come off the car at the absolute worst point on the track, which sent him into a barrier head on at 160+mph. The car actually wound up airborne after impact, flipping over the car of Jimmy Means who was collected in the accident. Watkins Glen was redesigned after this incident. Cause of death was a basilar skull fracture.

Clifford Allison was practicing for a Busch Series race at Michigan in 1992 when he lost control and hit the wall drivers side first. He died of massive head injuries.

In July 1993, Davey Allison took his 3-week old helicopter and flew to Talladega to watch David Bonnett practice for his Busch series debut. Davey's inexperience in the helicopter led to his crashing and his death. Red Farmer was a passenger in the helicopter and was pulled from the wreckage by Neil Bonnett, but Davey would pass away from massive head trauma the next morning.

Neil Bonnett should not have been in a racecar. He survived a career threatening crash at Darlington in 1990, ran testing for Earnhardt in 1992 and then 2 races in 1993 (One of which was a start-and-park to assure Earnhardt of the 1993 title). He would die at Daytona during practice for the 1994 Daytona 500 after losing control and crashing head-on into the wall in an eerily similar crash to what would claim the life of Earnhardt 7 years later. Cause of death.. Basilar skull fracture

Rodney Orr would die at Daytona just three days later after a broken shock absorber led to him losing control, flipping and crashing roof first into the wall in turn 2. He would die of massive head and chest injuries.

This one is a flat out cheat, but I have to mention it.. Ernie Irvan at Michigan in 1994. he didn't die. He SHOULD have died. This is the 'feel good' of this list. Irvan was locked in a championship battle with Earnhardt, crashed into the wall at Michigan during practice and was given a 10% chance of survival. He would return to racing in a limited fashion in 1995, running at times with an eyepatch to prevent double vision and finally returning to the #28 full time in 1996. He would win 3 more times in his career (including an emotional win at Michigan) before retiring in 1999 after another dangerous wreck at Michigan.

Elmo Langley.. This one is a bit of a cheat because while Rich could be considered an "active competitor", Langley cannot, but it's going on here. Many fans of NASCAR knew Elmo as the pace car driver who would often get pushed around the track by Earnhardt. But, he was a 2 time race winner in the Cup series with over 535 races run. He passed away of a heart attack driving the pace car during practice while in Japan for an exhibition race in 1996.

John Nemechek died in 1997 during the truck race at Homestead, spinning and crashing drivers side into the wall. Current truck driver John Hunter Nemechek is his nephew, named after him.

Adam Petty died at New Hampshire during practice for a Busch series race in 2000 (Just a little over a month after his great-grandfather Lee passed away) when a hung throttle sent him head on into the wall. Cause of death was a basilar skull fracture. His father, Kyle would take over Adam's Busch ride for the rest of 2000 and run the #45 for the rest of his career, and to this day, is rarely seen without a #45 hat. His death also led to the creation of the Victory Junction camp.

Kenny Irwin died in practice at New Hampshire in basically the exact same accident that killed Petty just under 2 months previously. Cause of death was again a basilar skull fracture. His death caused NASCAR to run restrictor plates at New Hampshire and eventually to the 'kill switch' being required on the steering wheel. Jeff Burton would win the plate race at New Hampshire and would lead from start to finish. First person to do it since Cale Yarborough in 1978 and last to date.

Tony Roper crashed during the truck race at Texas in 2000, dying the next day. This also was a basilar skull fracture.

And finally. Dale Earnhardt. I see no need to elaborate on this as everyone should know the details here.

13 deaths in a roughly 10 year period.

And.. I swear i'm forgetting someone between Orr and Langley.. So.. I leave it up to you all to remind me of who i've missed here. There's no way I've gotten all of them.

Last edited by Labonte18; 04-23-2017 at 12:20 AM..
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Old 04-23-2017, 02:51 AM
 
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alan kulwicki died in a plane crash the season after winning his cup championship, i for get which track he was flying to, but it was in 1993.

also another non driver, and another cheater of death, jack rousch survived a plane crash flying his P51.
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:17 AM
 
Location: central Oregon
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I can't remember his name, but he was t-boned by a (female?) driver who was racing back to the line under caution.

Funny, I can't remember who died, but this death was the most cringe-worthy wreck I ever saw. The car was at the top of the track, pointed nose down, driver's side vulnerable. His window net was down and he was taking off his seat belt when he was hit.

Not that I don't remember 99% of the deaths listed already, but this one got to me. (If I am remembering the female part correctly - I am terrible with names - I think she quit racing after this accident.)

NASCAR is a much safer sport these days.

NASCAR is also a much more boring sport these days.

I've been a fan since 1986.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbohm View Post
alan kulwicki died in a plane crash the season after winning his cup championship, i for get which track he was flying to, but it was in 1993.

also another non driver, and another cheater of death, jack rousch survived a plane crash flying his P51.
Duh.. I knew that there was a big one that I was forgetting. I even have that in my notes and forgot to type it up.

Yep, Kulwicki was en route back to the airport outside Bristol from an appearance for his sponsor Hooters when the private plane went down, killing him, the pilots and 2 Hooters execs, including the son of the founder if I recall.

A memorable moment was Kulwicki's hauler leaving Bristol, I believe it was Saturday morning. His team would be sold to Geoff Bodine before eventually having the remnants become Robby Gordon Motorsports, if I recall the lineage.

Quote:
I can't remember his name, but he was t-boned by a (female?) driver who was racing back to the line under caution.
You're thinking of Eric Martin who was hit by Deborah Renshaw during an ARCA race in 2002.
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Old 04-24-2017, 01:12 AM
 
Location: central Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
Duh.. I knew that there was a big one that I was forgetting. I even have that in my notes and forgot to type it up.

Yep, Kulwicki was en route back to the airport outside Bristol from an appearance for his sponsor Hooters when the private plane went down, killing him, the pilots and 2 Hooters execs, including the son of the founder if I recall.

A memorable moment was Kulwicki's hauler leaving Bristol, I believe it was Saturday morning. His team would be sold to Geoff Bodine before eventually having the remnants become Robby Gordon Motorsports, if I recall the lineage.



You're thinking of Eric Martin who was hit by Deborah Renshaw during an ARCA race in 2002.
Thanks for the names, the race and the date.

Alan Kulwicki's death was surreal; I could not believe that the Winston Cup Champion was dead. I thought it was an April fools joke. It didn't seem right.
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Old 04-25-2017, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Gray Court, SC
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Great post! Dont see how you could forget Kulwicki though!
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Old 04-25-2017, 03:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by UpstateJohn View Post
Great post! Dont see how you could forget Kulwicki though!
It's written down.. I have no idea how I went past it. I am proud of myself for the Mike Rich and Elmo Langley ones, tho.

Another great moment.. By the way.. All those that I mentioned that were on-track incidents, you can pretty much find on YouTube if you want.. McDuffie is probably the worst one to watch.. Not gory or anything, but.. Man was that violent.

But also look up the 1993 Atlanta finale.. You can see the last 10 laps or so, which were very good.. I had forgotten that Rusty overtook DW for that win.. But the crews coming out and giving Wallace a #28 flag and Earnhardt a #7 flag and them doing a Polish Victory lap was very cool.
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:10 PM
 
Location: central Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
It's written down.. I have no idea how I went past it. I am proud of myself for the Mike Rich and Elmo Langley ones, tho.

Another great moment.. By the way.. All those that I mentioned that were on-track incidents, you can pretty much find on YouTube if you want.. McDuffie is probably the worst one to watch.. Not gory or anything, but.. Man was that violent.

But also look up the 1993 Atlanta finale.. You can see the last 10 laps or so, which were very good.. I had forgotten that Rusty overtook DW for that win.. But the crews coming out and giving Wallace a #28 flag and Earnhardt a #7 flag and them doing a Polish Victory lap was very cool.
I certainly agree with you about J.D. McDuffie's crash. That was a hard hit and a quick stop!

As a long time (since 1986) Rusty Wallace fan I definitely remember that win in Atlanta and the two cars doing the Polish victory lap together. It was a touching and fitting end to a rough season for everyone involved in racing.

Somewhere I have Alan K and Rusty commercials (taped races of some of Rusty's wins)... totally corny, but I loved 'em.
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Old 04-28-2017, 10:24 PM
 
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Something else I neglected to mention.. Regarding the Adam Petty wreck. That was kinda the moment that turned Kyle Petty from the long-haired, earring wearing son of Richard into a fan favorite.

Kyle was not really an overly respected driver by many fans up until that point. Most of the old-school fans looked at him sideways because of the long hair and earring. But Adam's death.. While it didn't raise the respect for him from a driving standpoint.. He gained most everyone as a fan of him as a person.

Many people still don't realize that Kyle and Pattie are divorced and Kyle has remarried.
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:59 AM
 
Location: Gray Court, SC
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Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
Many people still don't realize that Kyle and Pattie are divorced and Kyle has remarried.
She got the raw end of the deal, the way I heard it. I think it was 2012 she was forced out of the VJG camp, accused of stealing money. Board was saying her emotions over the loss of her son made her do crazy things. The person who told me this use to volunteer there, but she told me she never saw anything like that, and think the board just wanted her gone for personal reasons. Pattie suffers from Parkinsons.
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