Who Were Some NASCAR Drivers Who Were Killed While Racing?

Who Were Some NASCAR Drivers Who Were Killed While Racing?

Dale Earnhardt, Tony Roper and John Nemecheck are the last top-flight NASCAR drivers to die while racing. Kenny Irwin Jr., Rodney Orr and Neil Bonnett died during practice sessions.

Seven-time NASCAR champion Earnhardt died Feb. 18, 2001 of a skull fracture when his car went into a wall on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Earnhardt's death in the Winston Cup race led NASCAR to order safety features such as softer walls and head-and-neck restraints.

Roper died Oct. 13, 2000, one day after a Craftsman Truck Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway, when his truck made a sharp right turn into a wall. Nemecheck died March 16, 1997, five days after he suffered brain injuries in a Craftsman Truck race.

Irwin was in a Winston Cup practice session July 7, 2000, for the New England 300 when his vehicle hit a wall and flipped onto its roof. Orr and Bonnett died while in practice sessions for the 1991 Daytona 500. Bonnett, a 20-year NASCAR veteran, died Feb. 11, 2001, in a head-on collision with a wall, while Orr died instantly Feb. 14, 2001, when his vehicle went into a wall and flipped onto the roof.

Another notable death occurred May 12, 2000, when Adam Petty died instantly in a Busch Grand National Series practice session. The vehicle's accelerator became stuck and Petty drove into a wall. Petty was the grandson of seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and son of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty.