Dale Earnhardt passed away 20 years ago and remains the most recent fatality in a national series, but there have unfortunately been multiple NASCAR fatalities since then.
Twenty years ago on Thursday, the world lost seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt following his last-lap crash in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
The impact had on the sport by “The Intimidator” is still felt in the sport to this day, particularly given how the sport responded to his death by adding all kinds of new and advanced safety measures that perhaps would have never been implemented otherwise — or at least not nearly as soon as they were.
And 20 years later, those safety advancements continue to work, as we see time and time again. The Cup Series has not seen any fatalities since then, and neither have any of the other national series.
Unfortunately, Earnhardt’s fatality isn’t the most recent NASCAR fatality, however.
Six drivers have passed away in other series since Sunday, February 18, 2001. But there is one positive here: the 2010s decade was the first decade not to feature any fatalities in any form of NASCAR racing.
The most recent fatality took place in June of 2009, when Carlos Pardo was killed in a late accident during a Mexico Corona Series race at Autódromo Miguel E. Abed. The other five drivers to pass away since Earnhardt are Michael Roberts, Mark Hutto, John Baker, Tom Baldwin Sr. and John Blewett III. Roberts passed away in March of 2001 before Hutto passed away in April of 2002, Baker passed away in June of 2002, Baldwin passed away in August of 2004 and Blewett passed away in 2007.
Let’s hope that this list never needs an update. The last 11-12 years are certainly a good sign, but there is always room for improvement, and safety is something that simply cannot be taken for granted in any form of motorsport.