The Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (2023)

Stock car racing (and any form of racing, for that matter) is an inherently dangerous activity. This has sadly been proven many times over the 120 year plus history of auto sports. There is no escaping the fact that some race tracks are intrinsically more dangerous than others. Here are the ten most dangerous tracks on the Nascar Cup Series schedule.

The most dangerous track statistically in NASCAR is Daytona International Speedway which has seen 14 driver fatalities since its opening in 1959. It is also the most likely track to see multi car crashes during a race. However, tracks like charlotte, talladega and Bristol also are considered both difficult and dangerous racetracks

Safety advancements – as well as attitudes toward safety – have come a long way since the early days, and most racing facilities endeavor to make their venue as safe as possible> however racing is dangerous and despite these improvements in both track and car safety there are still accidents. We take a look at where these accidents may occur in this list of the the ten most dangerous tracks in NASCAR.

Ten of the Most Dangerous Tracks in NASCAR

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We have listed this as a top ten, but judging the exact order is a strange task, there is a clear number one but the criteria to judge others can vary. Fatalities are, thankfully, rare in NASCAR racing but crashes are not. So the below list takes both into consideration.

10. New Hampshire International Raceway

The “Magic Mile,” as the New England track is nicknamed, was the site of one of the last Cup Series driver deaths to occur (that of Kenny Irwin, Jr.). Fourth-generation driver and grandson of “The King” Richard Petty, Adam Petty also lost his life here at only 19 years old that same year (2000) at the track in what is now the Xfinity Series.

While New Hampshire International has been free of such tragic incidents since, it remains a track to be respected due to its combination of high speeds and flat corners.

9. Bristol Motor Speedway

While the fan favorite half mile “bullring” may not seem like an obvious choice for a list such as this one, “The world’s fastest half mile” didn’t come by that title by accident.

With its super-high banks (a still-impressive 26 degrees after the 2007 reconfiguration) “Thunder Valley” sees impressive speeds for a short track, sometimes topping 140mph (225km/h). Drivers have compared racingThe Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (1) at Bristol to flying a fighter plane in a parking lot.

Michael Waltrip’s 1990 crash at Bristol is proof that the track is not to be taken lightly, as is the horrific crash that Mike Harmon survived there in 2002.

As the table below highlights it is also the third most likely track to see a crash that involves multiple cars.

8. Watkins Glen International

The Watkins Glen road course has been a fixture on the circuit for a long time now, and is known as one the most – if not the most – demanding tracks in the sport. It features several long straightaways among the 11-turn layout, meaning drivers must contend with some very high speeds as they negotiate the course’s tricky chicanes and switchbacks.

Watkin’s Glen was tragically the site of a deadly crash for veteran driver J.D. McDuffie, who careened into the out wall going into the notorious carousel turn. Jimmie Johnson’s incredible impact into the wall here in 2000 is one of the worst non-fatal hits in recent memory.

(Video) The Top 5 Most Dangerous Race Tracks!

6. Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oval)

The sport’s home track, and home of the prestigious Coca-cola 600, is also historically one of its most dangerous, second only to the no.1 entry on our list with 3 Cup Series fatalities (along with the defunct Langhorne Speedway). Drivers Jimmy Pardue, Harold Kite and, perhaps most famously, Fireball Roberts all lost their lives in Cup racing-related incidents at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Charlotte is the second most likely track to see a multiple car crash on in a season.

7. Darlington Raceway

One of Nascar’s oldest tracks, the Darlington Raceway is also without question of its most colorful. This distinct, egg-shaped oval was the site of the closest and arguably most memorable finish in series history.

It is also one of the most dangerous of Nascar’s racing circuits with its demanding, narrow turns that force drivers to ride the racing groove mere inches from the wall…and disaster. The prestigious Southern 500 has claimed the lives of drivers Bobby Meyes and Buren Skeen.

How Many NASCAR Drivers Have Died Racing?

5. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

There is an old adage that says “Indy will bite you if you don’t respect it.” Sadly, this has proven true many times in Indy Cars, but so far there have fortunately not been any Nascar racing deaths to occur here to date.

Yet Indy still remains a track to be taken seriously, with its formidable flat turns and long straights. While the Nascar Cup Series is experimenting by moving to the infield road course, drivers still know that this most iconic of race tracks commands every iota of skill if disaster is to be averted.

4. Atlanta Motor Speedway

The high banks of this 1.5-mile speedway (which will get even higher after its reconfiguration) have provided some of the fastest and most entertaining racing on the schedule in recent years. When it was reconfigured back in 1997 the track saw qualifying speeds in excess of 197 mph (317km/h).

Two of the 28 total Cup driver fatalities have occurred here, the most recent being Grant Adcox in 1989. While concerns have been raised over the reconfiguration, only time will tell what’s in store for one of the series’ stalwart venues.

3. Pocono Raceway

The two-and-a-half-mile Pocono Raceway is one of the more unique tracks in Nascar, and has seen some of the most devastating crashes in the sport’s history. It was the site of the crash that ended Bobby Allison’s career. Elliot Sadler’s 2010 crash into the inside wall has been described as the hardest hit in Nascar history. Thankfully Elliot was able to walk away shaken but unhurt.

(Video) Top 10 Worst NASCAR Tracks

2. Talladega Superspeedway

Second only to its sister track on this list, the Talladega Superspeedway has long been considered one of the most dangerous. Nascar’s biggest track is known for “the big one,” and lore has it that the track is cursed it has claimed two lives those of Larry Smith in 1973, and TIny Lund in 1975 in recent history.

One of the sport’s most bizarre occurrences came here when 1970 Cup Champion and Nascar Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac abruptly pulled out of the race and ended his full-time Cup career. After Isaac’s death a few years later, it was revealed that Isaac’s reason for pulling out at Talladega was that a voice in his head told him he would die if he continued.

It is also the track that had the huge crash of Bobby Allision into the catch Fencing. That and the speed record Bill Elliott set where the spark that started restrictor plate racing in NASCAR.

1. Daytona International Speedway

That Daytona is the most dangerous track in Nascar is probably no surprise to anyone. It was the site of the sport’s biggest heartbreak in recent memory when Dale Earnhardt lost his life in the 2001 Daytona 500 – the last driver fatality for the Cup Series up to this point (and hopefully for good).

The Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (6)

Two of the three previous Cup Series fatalities came at the 1994 Daytona 500, where drivers Rodney Orr and Neil Bonnet were killed in separate practice incidents. The track has seen 14 driver deaths total across NASCAR, far more than any other in the sport’s history.

Were Old NASCAR Race Tracks ‘Dangerous?

As mentioned we have included only the current NASCAR racing tracks in this list as these are the ones you may still visit. However there are ones from the past that have been equally if not more dangerous NASCAR tracks. We give these a dishonorable mention below.

Riverside International Raceway, California: This racetrack is now a shopping centre in California. Ithad a fatality in the first race in 1957 When John Lawrence rolled his car between turn 5 and 6. The track also claimed the life of Ken Miles, whose story is told in the movie, Ford Vs. Ferrari, in 1966 during testing. Joe Weatherly also lost his life here in 1964.

Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania: Although now gone this racetrack was one of the most dangerous in Motorsports. 27 people, drivers, spectators and flagmen had died here before it. In a sign of the times it is now a shopping development. it had a corner drivers names Puke Hollow, due to the speed and uneven track. Parnelli Jones said of it

Puke Hollow was, by far, the worst corner I ever drove”

(Video) NASCAR's Most Dangerous Circuit - Riverside International Raceway

Parnelli JonesThe Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (7)

Memphis Arkansas Speedway: Was a very short-lived NASCAR Grand National Venue, Only in operation for 3 years. It still holds the record for the longest dirt track in NASCAR history at 1.5 miles, and claimed the lives of two drivers in two days in 1956, when Clint Mchugh and Cotton Priddy crashed in qualifying and on race day.

The Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (9)

Which NASCAR Track Has the Most Accidents?

Daytona has by far the most accidents in a race overall., consequential ones, there are tracks, often short courses that have more accidents in an actual race (see below) but with the speeds, the motivation and the number of cars involved makes Daytona more likely to have an incident and involve more drivers.

The table below includes data from Ten Most Dangerous Race Tracks in Nascar | Sports (10) (who has the full list and excellent information) Who uses an index of accidents per 100 miles ( as short course races often are short but with more accidents) and number of cars involved. you can follow the link for the full track list.

NASCAR TrackAccidents per 100 miles x number of cars involved.
Charlotte Royal7.65
What Are The Toughest NASCAR Race Tracks

Final Thoughts

So as you can see accidents and crashes are not just reserved for the Superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega, short tracks also have just as many risks. When driving for so far, for so long, and with so many other drivers around you accidents are just a moment away.

Short tracks can be just as dangerous and risky as the large fast tracks, but the spectacle of the ‘big one’ at these fast tracks is more likely to involve more cars. However what makes a NASCAR tough track can vary, and we go into that in more detail here.

Whatever the track, one thing can be assured, driving at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour, bumper to bumper is dangerous no matter at which track it is done.


(Video) The Most Dangerous Track in NASCAR


What tracks are the most challenging or dangerous? ›

10 Race Tracks That Are Notoriously Dangerous
  • 8 Guia Circuit.
  • 7 Daytona International Speedway.
  • 6 The Nurburgring.
  • 5 Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
  • 4 Spa Francorchamps.
  • 3 Targa Florio.
  • 2 Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • 1 Circuit de la Sarthe.
Sep 25, 2019

What race track has the most fatalities? ›

Snaefell Mountain Course – Isle of Man TT

With recorded more than 270 fatalities since the inaugural event, of which 262 were competitors, this track is the most dangerous race track in the world.

What is the most dangerous race track in America? ›

The 12.7-mile course wraps around the legendary Pikes Peak and ends at the mountain's 14,115-foot-tall summit. But even with its deadly hazards, which include 156 blind turns and steep cliffs with no guardrails, drivers continue coming back for the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

What is the most wrecks in a NASCAR race? ›

2002 Aaron's 312 at Talladega: On lap 14, the largest crash in modern NASCAR history (1972–present) took place at the exit of turn two, with 31 cars being involved.

What is the most difficult NASCAR track? ›

NASCAR's 10-race, season-ending premier series playoff run kicks off Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, one of the sport's oldest and most challenging tracks.

What are the toughest tracks in NASCAR? ›

Darlington, South Carolina

With its distinctive egg-shaped design, Darlington Raceway is considered the toughest track in NASCAR.

What was the worst race crash ever? ›

Large pieces of debris flew into the crowd, killing 83 spectators and French driver Pierre Levegh, and injuring nearly 180 more. It was the most catastrophic crash in motorsport history, and it prompted Mercedes-Benz to withdraw from motor racing until 1989.

What is the most famous race track? ›

1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Home of the famed Indianapolis 500, NASCAR's Brickyard 400, and Lilly Diabetes 250, this sports venue is probably one America's most famed. Located in Speedway, a suburb of Indianapolis, it sits on 560-acres.

What is the bumpiest NASCAR track? ›

— When drivers show up to race at Kentucky Speedway, the track makes their teeth chatter. But it's not because the drivers are scared. Rather, the surface of Kentucky's 1.5-mile track is bumpier than any other in NASCAR — and that's no exaggeration.

What is the fastest NASCAR track? ›

Michigan is the fastest track in NASCAR due to its wide, sweeping corners, long straightaways, and lack of a restrictor plate requirement; typical qualifying speeds are in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h) and corner entry speeds are anywhere from 215 to 220 mph (346 to 354 km/h) after the 2012 repaving of the track.

What Nascar tracks are the most challenging or dangerous? ›

NASCAR has many difficult racetracks. Oval and Road can present tough challenges due to multiple factors: cornering is difficult at Pocono with its tri-oval design, the egg-shaped layout of Darlington Raceway and the banks and short track at Bristol and Martinsville also provide difficulties for NASCAR drivers.

What is the most famous NASCAR track? ›

Most famous NASCAR race tracks, such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, are so wildly famous that even people who don't follow the sport are aware of their existence. Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, is one of those tracks.

What are the 3 biggest NASCAR races? ›

What are the biggest NASCAR races? The races on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with the most prestige are the Daytona 500, Dixie Vodka 400, and Coca-Cola 600.

What track has the longest straightaway in NASCAR? ›

The biggest NASCAR oval is Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. It measures at 2.66 miles. For all NASCAR tracks, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, is the longest.

What NASCAR track is known as the tricky triangle? ›

Home - Pocono Raceway - The Tricky Triangle.

Where is the smallest NASCAR track? ›

Martinsville Speedway is a NASCAR-owned stock car racing short track in Ridgeway, Virginia, just south of Martinsville. At 0.526 miles (847 m) in length, it is the shortest track in the NASCAR Cup Series.

What is the slowest NASCAR track? ›

Martinsville Speedway

526 mile oval is the smallest and slowest track on the schedule and jamming 43 cars on this short track makes for close quarters.

Which NASCAR track holds the most fans? ›

List of motor racing venues by capacity
Texas Motor Speedway181,655NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar
Bristol Motor Speedway162,000NASCAR Cup Series
Talladega Superspeedway160,000NASCAR Cup Series
Suzuka Circuit155,000FIA Formula One, SuperGT, Suzuka 8 Hours
78 more rows

Which racing is most difficult? ›

Open-wheel racing, like Formula 1 or IndyCar racing, is often considered the most difficult and requires exceptionally skilled drivers worldwide. Formula 1 racing is called the pinnacle of driving.

What is the closest NASCAR finish ever? ›

As of 2022, the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Cup Series is 0.002 seconds. This first occurred during the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway, as Ricky Craven crossed the finish line inches ahead of Kurt Busch.

What is the most famous car crash? ›

Princess Diana

This accident is probably one of the most famous car crashes with an abundance of media coverage and paparazzi car crash photos circulating in the press. Driving a 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 through a tunnel in France, the driver of the vehicle lost control and smashed into a pillar.

What was the first NASCAR death? ›

How many NASCAR drivers have died? A total of 29 NASCAR drivers have died behind the wheel. The first driver to die was Larry Mann. He crashed and died at Langhorne Speedway, an infamously dangerous early NASCAR track in Pennsylvania.

When was the last fatal crash in NASCAR? ›

The NASCAR Cup Series has seen 29 driver fatalities, the most recent of which occurred on February 18, 2001, when Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Safety in the sport has evolved through the decades.

What is the longest race track ever? ›

The longest: Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany

Not the first time the fearsome Nordschleife will appear on this list, at 12.9 miles the circuit in Germany's Eifel Mountains is the longest permanent racetrack in the world.

What is the most expensive race track? ›

The Yas Marina Circuit (Arabic: حلبة مرسى ياس) is believed to be the most expensive circuit in history, having been constructed for Formula One on a man-made island at a reputed cost of $1 billion.

What is the most dangerous track and field event? ›

Pole vault is by far and away the deadliest individual athletics event, with over 20 reported deaths since 1982.

Which F1 track is the most dangerous? ›

Jeddah Corniche, Saudi Arabia

This track has only been on the F1 calendar since 2021 but is already notorious for being one of the most dangerous tracks in the sport.

What sport are difficult and dangerous? ›

Auto Racing

With hundreds of kilograms of metal wrapped around you and going an average of 150 miles per hour on hard asphalt and a chance of 1 in 100 to die in a crash, car racing is definitely one of the most dangerous sports there are.

What is the loudest NASCAR track? ›

The unique construction of Bristol Motor Speedway has made it the loudest track in NASCAR. Just 0.533 miles in length, the grandstands at Bristol rise the equivalent of 21 stories, which holds the noise inside the track. How loud is it?

What is the most dangerous sport in racing? ›

The Most Dangerous and Challenging Motorsport Races
  1. The Dakar Rally. The Dakar Rally has been one of the most notorious motorsport races since its inception in 1978. ...
  2. Isle of Man TT. ...
  3. The Baja 1000. ...
  4. 24 Hours of Le Mans. ...
  5. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. ...
  6. The Erzberg Rodeo. ...
  7. Nürburgring 24 Hours. ...
  8. The Rainforest Challenge.
Jan 12, 2023

What sport has the most accidents? ›

Basketball, skateboarding and football are the most dangerous sports overall. Sports-related injuries have declined by 31% Skateboarding is the only sport where injuries have increased, going up more than 100%

What is the deadliest road race? ›

Isle of Man TT: The world's deadliest race.

Is NASCAR or Formula 1 more dangerous? ›

Formula 1 drivers are much more commonly injured than NASCAR drivers. This is because Formula 1 cars have very little protection, while NASCAR has many safety features to protect the driver and the spectators. Because of this, it makes Formula 1 racing a lot more dangerous and exciting to watch.

What is the slowest F1 track? ›

Circuit de Monaco - Wikipedia.

What is the least deadliest sport? ›

Swimming is the safest sport to take part in. Its easy on the joints and can be an aid in recovery after an injury so making it the safest sport in America. A study by researchers at The University of Colorado Denver lead by PhD.


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