When Was The Last NASCAR Death? The Fatal Accident Of Dale Earnhardt

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The last NASCAR death took place on Daytona International Speedway tracks in 2001. The crash took the life of the legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt on the final lap. 

When the crash took place nobody thought it would take somebody’s life. Ken Schrader with whom Dale Earnhardt crashed had come out safely from his car.

As Schrader walked towards Dale’s car to congratulate him on his son coming second and his race team driver Michael Waltrip coming first, he immediately knew something was wrong. 

Dale Earnhardt Pictured Winning Lifting The Winston Cup Trophy In 1994
Dale Earnhardt Pictured Winning Lifting The Winston Cup Trophy In 1994 (Source: Pinterest)

Schrader didn’t say much to the media, but his face told a different story. Known as “The Intimidator” and “The Man In Black,” Earnhardt was a hero to many racing fans. 

His love for the sport was clear as daylight. In his 26-year career, Earnhardt won 76 races and won consecutive titles on three separate occasions.

The legendary driver’s son Dale Earnhardt Jr on his father’s legacy and won 26 races in his 19-year career. 

When Was The Last NASCAR Death?

The last car NASCAR death happened on February 18, 2001, at the biggest race in the world. The legendary driver Dale Earnhardt on his 676th start on his final lap, crashed with Ken Schrader. 

At first, the crash didn’t look serious and what the NASCAR viewers would be used to seeing. Right before the crash, Dale saw the driver of his race team Michael Waltrip and his son Dale Earnhardt Jr compete for the first position. 

Dale Earnhardt And Ken Schrader Collided At The Daytona International Speedway Tracks In 2001 Later Resulting In Demise Of The Former
Dale Earnhardt And Ken Schrader Collided At The Daytona International Speedway Tracks In 2001, Later Resulting In The Demise Of The Former (Source: Twitter)

Michael eventually won the race, but all the attention was later diverted toward Dale Sr’s crash. The video of Dale’s crash has been viewed several times on YouTube. 

But more than the crash itself, the look on Darrell Waltrip’s face is what many viewers consider gut-wrenching.

Waltrip, who was broadcasting for FOX Sports, was first celebrating his brother’s victory, but soon as Michael crossed the finish line, he diverted his attention toward the crash.

“I just hope Dale’s okay. I guess he is, isn’t he?” is what Darrell Waltrip immediately said after looking at what had taken place only a few meters behind the finish line. 

The Fatal Accident Of Dale Earnhardt

Right after their cars came to a halt, Schrader made his way to check on his fellow racer. Schrader didn’t suffer any injuries from the accident and came out unharmed.

He thought Dale’s condition would be the same. So he quickly went up to Dale to relay the information that Michael and his son finished first and second. 

Dale Earnhardt The NASCAR Legend Left A Lasting Impact On The Sport
Dale Earnhardt, The NASCAR Legend, Left A Lasting Impact On The Sport (Source: Twitter)

But soon as Schrader saw Dale, he knew something was wrong, and the veteran driver was in trouble. In one of the videos, Schrader is seen looking at Dale from the window and signaling the emergency crew to come quickly.

Dale was pronounced dead at nearby Halifax Medical Center at 5:16 PM ET. The autopsy result showed the cause of death to be a basilar skull fracture. It is also believed that the NASCAR racer had other injuries, including fractures to his ribs and left ankle.

Aftermath Of Dale Earnhardt Accident 

Even to this date, Dale Earnhardt’s tragic demise is mourned by several NASCAR fans. He was a favorite racer to many and one of the greatest to take part in the sport.

After Dale’s demise, many speculated the faulty seatbelt played a massive role in the accident. But the ones who tried to save him ruled it out. 

SAFER Barrier And HANS Device Were Introduced As A Result Of Dale Earnhardt's Untimely Demise
SAFER Barrier And HANS Device Were Introduced As A Result Of Dale Earnhardt’s Untimely Demise (Source: Twitter)

The untimely death of Dale Earnhardt forced NASCAR to bring some major changes in the cars and outside of it. NASCAR started using SAFER barriers, energy-absorbing foam pyramids applied to the existing concrete walls, adding 30 inches in width. 

The HANS device, a shoulder harness, came into play to keep the head from moving forward when the body stops. Dale Earnhardt was a man passionate about racing, so he didn’t want too many changes that might slow down the race.

After all, speed was the ultimate selling point for the fans, and that is what they always come to see. His legacy was carried on by his son Dale Earnhardt Jr, who won Dayton 500 twice. 

Sriyukta Pradhananga
Sriyukta Pradhananga

Sriyukta Pradhananga

Sriyukta Pradhananga is a versatile writer with a keen interest in exploring the multifaceted dimensions of sports. Her articles offer readers a dynamic blend of insightful analysis, engaging storytelling, and thought-provoking commentary that sheds light on the diverse experiences within the athletic realm.


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  • Sriyukta keeps abreast of the latest advancements in sports technology.
  • She examines issues related to sports ethics, fair play, and integrity.


With a background in journalism and a passion for sports, Sriyukta approaches each article with a blend of curiosity, rigor, and creativity. She strives to illuminate the complexities and nuances of the sports world, sparking meaningful conversations and inspiring readers to engage more deeply with the athletic endeavors that unite us all.

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