Over the past 100 years of motorsports, manufacturers and racers continually pushed the limits of technology and driver capability in order to entertain crowds and win prizes. Engines became more powerful and efficient, cars became more aerodynamic or rugged and race tracks and courses were developed across the world. From Touring Championships to Formula One to NASCAR, over the years, racing series have grown in popularity and competitiveness.
Of course, as a fan, spectator or driver, it is understood that any sport involving high powered cars or motorcycles brings with it a degree of risk. Putting several dozen cars on a track and running that at a high speed creates an environment where crashes and injuries are likely. Driving a turbocharged car over gravel roads surrounded by spectators is perhaps not the safest of situations to be in. Flying along at 150mph on a sport bike over public roads through a small English village is another cringe-worthy scenario. Yet, competitors and drivers continually put themselves in these situations for the thrill of the race. As a result, death and injury are commonplace in the world of motorsport racing among both spectators and competitors.
Over time, certain races have developed reputations for being especially dangerous. What makes these races so dangerous? There is often no single answer as drivers, cars, weather and tracks can all play a role in deciding how safe or dangerous a race is. In rally sport, the cars became too powerful and light in the 1980s. In NASCAR, certain speedways had design features which made them more dangerous than others, especially as cars gained more power. In Formula One, engine power outpaced track design. Whatever the reason, certain events and tracks have established themselves as being especially dangerous. In certain instances, the dangers are deemed so great that the event or track is banned from the respective series. So, what are the top 10 deadliest racing venues in the world?
10. Targa Florio
The Targa Florio was an endurance race held on the island of Sicily, in Italy, from 1906 until 1977. The course went through a number of changes from its beginnings, ultimately ending up as a 72 km track of public roads. At the time, it was considered one of the hardest races in Europe.
This is the circuit that the World Rally Championship deemed too dangerous to drive in the mid-1970s. Considering the WRC was using 300+hp RWD driven on gravel and snow, that’s quite a statement. Targa Florio was not the fastest rally, nor did it kill the most drivers. Average top speeds were around 120 kph and only 9 people were killed. That said, the course went through the mountains and roads often had no guard rails or barriers. In 1978, the race was transformed from an endurance style competition to a rally series and continues on today.