No one knows exactly how many people have died in pursuit of their motorsport passions, but the number is astronomically high. And while there's no doubt tracks, and cars, have become much safer over the years, that wasn't always the case.
Some tracks—and races—have proven much more lethal than others. Here are those fatal raceways:
Note: Accurate totals of motorsport fatalities are few and far between for a variety of reasons, so all numbers listed below are rough at best.
1. Circuit de la Sarthe, a.k.a. Le Mans
Relatively few drivers have perished at Le Mans, with estimates generally limited to the mid 20s. However, when a Mercedes somersaulted into the crowd before bursting into flames in 1955, scores of men, women and children died in one of the most graphic and gory scenes imaginable. Mercedes withdrew from racing for decades, and Switzerland banned motorsports.
2. The Dakar Rally
Ok, so this isn't really a track, per se, but it is one of the most extreme events on Earth, and one that averages almost a death per year.
3. Daytona International Speedway
Just under 30 people have lost their lives at Daytona. Many in circumstances similar to Dale Earnhardt, whose life ended abruptly, as his car was turned directly into the wall.
4. Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Today, Monza is merely one of the fastest road courses in the world—after undergoing numerous radical changes to make it slower. For many decades, however, the track had an extra loop that made it significantly faster. Over 40 top-flight drivers have died at Monza, including an unlucky few who simply flew off the loop into the dense forest below.
5. Spa Francorchamps
For the vast majority of cars, the secret to driving fast at Spa is simply to be willing to go a little bit faster than everyone else. For a track that's already blindingly quick and supremely technical, that's a deadly combination, as nearly 50 of the greatest drivers have learned.
6. Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Nearly 60 competitors have perished at Indy, with plenty more spectators and crew also falling at the track. Many of these were in the early days of motorsport, when a seemingly benign crash would suddenly result in drivers ejected from their car and pinned against the wall.
7. The Nurburgring
The Nurburgring is so long it can be pouring on one part of the circuit and perfectly dry on another. Even today, it's a deadly combination of technical corners and high speeds, though safety standards have improved from the early days when drivers could literally fly down an embankment or into a forest. Just under 70 racers have died during official events, but the number of amateur drivers and motorcyclists the track has claimed is well into the hundreds.
8. The Isle of Man
Take a ton of motorcyclists riding at 200+ mph on closed off public roads through small towns, and you'll understand why it's so difficult to determine an accurate total for the number of people whose lives were lost here. Even the most conservative estimates put the number well over 200. The race has been held since 1906 and only once—1982—did it not involve at least on fatality.