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In memoriam 2014

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Automotive racing is a sport unlike any other. Whether it’s the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Daytona 500, racing has always been a test of man and machine. Organized automotive racing is as old as the automobile itself, tracing its roots to the 1903 French Grand Prix. The prohibition of alcohol started the moonshine business and the need to tune cars to outrun the feds. Eventually, these bootleggers took their cars to the sands of the A1A in Daytona and this is what led to the birth of NASCAR.

For anyone like me who follows motor racing religiously, you’ll recognize names like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, A. J. Foyt, Richard Petty, Ayrton Senna, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Schumacher, Jeff Gordon, Jacky Icxx, Sir Jackie Stewart, Allan McNish and many more. Four of them were drivers who paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of victory.

Just as racing has been a pursuit for glory, it’s also had a bloody path that got it there. While racing is the safest it has ever been, it’s still a fine line between life and death these drivers walk every time they strap into the car.

Since the motorsports calendar has reached its conclusion for this year, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to all those who’ve died in the racing world this year (courtesy of Motorsport Memorial).

  • Víctor Jiménez
    • Died February 15 in the Gran Premio STAMP at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.
  • Edson Beber
    • Killed March 16 in the XXIV Arrancada Internacional de Caminhões de Arroio do Silva at the Arroio do Silva in Brazil.
  • Al Fleming
    • Died April 11 at the Hockenheimring in Germany.
      • At Hockenheim Al Fleming was at the wheel of his yellow and green painted Lotus Elan #1, which went out of control and flipped in the long Parabolika stretch of the circuit. It is believed that the accident was caused by a technical defect. The car was losing oil along the track, before crashing.
  • Garry Whyte
    • April 18 at Silverstone
      • During Saturday’s GP Itala Trophy Race, Garry Whyte lost control of his car, which left the track and rolled over. No other cars were involved in the accident. Grievously injured, Whyte was airlifted to hospital in Coventry, Warwickshire. Sadly, he succumbed to his head injuries six days later, on Friday, 18 April 2014 morning.
  • Jerry Harkrider
    • April 19 at the Oklahoma Sports Park
      • Harkrider suffered a fatal heart attack while competing in the Sport Mod Race.
  • Marcelo Mazzoni
    • April 30 at the Autódromo Segundo Taraborelli in Argentina
      • Mazzoni died ten days after suffering fatal burns in a wreck.
  • Wesley Wallin
    • May 21 at the Capital City Speedway in Ontario, Canada
      • Wallin suffered a fatal heart attack in the 100 Lap Enduro.
  • Sébastien Milan
    • May 24 at Chambost-Longessaigne, Rhône (69), France
      • Milan was killed in the 11ème Rallye Régional de Chambost-Longessaigne stage of the French Rally Cup. His car left the road and hit a tree driver side.
  • Antonio Bertini
    • June 7 at the XIII Modena Cento Ore Classic in Ospitaletto (RE), Italy
      • The accident occurred around 12h30 on Saturday, 07 June 2014. After the end of a special stage at the Pradarena Pass, all the competitors moved to the parc fermé located in Ligonchio, province of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Then in the afternoon of the same day was scheduled the final stage from Carpineti to Modena. While travelling along the provincial road SP18, Antonio Bertini failed to negotiate a right-hand corner on a tricky downhill near the small village of Ospitaletto, province of Reggio Emilia. His white painted Marcos 1800 GT left the road and went straight into a ravine. It violently crashed into a tree on the right side of the roof, hopeless for Bertini, who died on the spot.
  • Danny Lefebvre
    • June 22 at the Cornwall Motor Speedway in Ottawa.
      • The accident that claimed the life of Danny Lefebvre occurred around 20h20 on Sunday, 22 June 2014 at the Cornwall Motor Speedway, Cornwall, in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Ontario, Canada. The severe crash happened on the penultimate lap of the 12-lap Mini-Stock feature, after Lefebvre’s car went out of control and hit a cement barrier just beyond turn two, at the speedway’s east end.
  • Ingo Koschmieder
    • July 5 at the ADAC-Grabfeldrallye in Herbstadt, Rhön-Grabfeld, Bayern, Germany
      • The fatal accident occurred around 13h00, midway through the 8.5-kilometer second special stage of the rally “Herbscher Hütte”. German driver Ingo Koschmieder lost control of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII #207, at the exit of a left turn, at the end of the uphill passage of the driveway to the landfill of the Landkreis Rhön-Grabfeld, between the villages of Herbstadt and Breitensee. The car went off the road on the right side, landing at full speed into an about three feet deep ditch.
  • Kierstin Eaddy
    • July 20 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas
      • Kierstin Eaddy died in an amateur karting race in one of the speedway parking lots. Eyewitnesses indicated that Kierstin Eaddy had just crossed the finish line when she was unable to stop her machine which hit a low cable barrier. It was reported that the teen’s helmet flew off after hitting the cable. Seriously injured, she was airlifted to the Harris Methodist hospital in Fort Worth where she was later pronounced dead.
  • Jordan Milarov
    • July 26 practicing for the Bulgarian Hillclimbing Championship
      • Bulgarian 25-year-old race car driver Jordan Milarov [?????? ??????? in Bulgarian] died as a consequence of an accident which happened around 18h30 on Saturday, 26 July 2014, while practicing for the Uzana hillclimb, in central Bulgaria. The event was the fourth round of the 2014 Bulgarian Hillclimb Championship. The driver lost control of his Opel Kadett #26 entered by ARA Motorsport, in a very fast section of the mountain course, 2.4 kilometers after the start. The car hit a rock and went off the road at high speed on the left side, crashing hard on the driver’s door. The area was closed to spectators and no other people was involved in the accident.
  • Denis Welch
    • July 27 at the Silverstone Circuit in England
      • Shortly after the start of the race reserved for pre-1966 Grand Prix cars, Denis Welch at the wheel oh his 1960 Lotus 18 – Climax #19, was involved in a multi-car accident between the Village corner and The Loop. Despite the relatively low speed, the Lotus clipped another competitor’s car and rolled over, inflicting its driver serious injuries from which he died after being taken to the circuit’s Medical Centre.
  • Kevin Ward, Jr.
    • August 9 at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York
      • Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed in a tragic racing accident when Tony Stewart was unable to swerve to avoid hitting him.
  • Timmy Cathcart
    • August 15 at the Ulster Rally in Northern Ireland
      • While running in 12th position overall on his home event, twenty-year-old Timothy Cathcart from Enniskillen, lost control of his car that left the road and crashed. The Citroën DS3 R3T #28 was completely destroyed, Cathcart was killed almost instantly.
  • Nuno Silva
    • August 15 at Rali Sprint de Abadim-Cabeceiras de Basto in Braga, Portugal twelve days after suffering severe brain damage
      • The accident happened on Sunday, 03 August 2014, during the third special stage of the rally, between the villages of Vila Boa and Busteliberne, nearly Bucos, region of Braga, in northern Portugal. The BMW M3 E46 #26 driven by Nuno Silva-José Machado went out of control, left the road at high speed, crashed into a tree and caught fire. Silva was trapped into the car and the firefighters who intervened almost immediately, took several minutes to extricate him, unconscious from the wreckage. The impact was so hard that the steering wheel of the car got stuck in the driver’s helmet, causing him serious face and neck injuries. He was transferred by helicopter to the intensive care unit of Braga hospital.
  • Lee Duran
    • August 30 at the Lime Rock Park Historical Festival in Sharon, Connecticut
      • On Saturday, 30 August – the third of the five days of the festival – Duran engaged in Race 2 of Group 2 for Pre-War Sports and Racing Cars with his blue 1934 MG PA Special. In one of the laps of this race, shortly after 14h15, the little sportscar veered off track at the exit of West Bend and got sideways in the downhill that follows it. It then spun and flipped three or four times before coming to rest on its side at the edge of the track, by the exit of Turn 7, the last one on the course. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. The race was black flagged, but the event continued. The MG was equipped with a roll bar – but, according to witness Gene Mann, who spectated the race, the safety belts might have been too loose, as Duran was thrown around as the car bounced.
  • Gonzalo Clopatofsky
    • September 19 Tocancipá in Colombia
      • Gonzalo Clopatofsky suffered a fatal accident on the morning of Friday, 19 September 2014, at the Tocancipá circuit in the Department of Cundinamarca. He was at that track for a private testing session with sights on the ninth and tenth rounds of the TC2000 Colombian Championship, to be held at that facility on 28 September. During one of the laps Clopatofksy lost control of his car, which crashed against a wall and ended within a lagoon that borders the eastern section of that track. The vehicle submerged in the water and Gonzalo could not escape from it. Paramedics and a rescue team quickly reached the scene of the accident, but Clopatofsky was found with no signs of life. He was thirty-eight years old.
  • Scott Semmelmann
    • September 20 atBeaver Dam Raceway in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
      • The accident occurred around 17h50, during the second practice session for a Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series race. Scott Semmelmann collided with another competitor’s car driving around the third corner. His sprint car violently flipped three times and then crashed into the outside concrete wall. The driver was killed almost instantly.
  • David Minx
    • September 28 at Houston Motorsports Park in Houston County, Texas
      • The accident occurred on Sunday, 28 September 2014 evening. David Minx’s blue painted 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, known as Mighty Mouse, crashed at high speed through a barrier and then hit the wall at the end of the 1/8 mile drag strip.
  • Ryan Bradley
    • October 18 in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship
      • It happened at about 11h30 on Saturday, 18 October 2014. Shortly after the start of the special stage, Ryan Bradley’s Ford Escort MK2 #41 went out of control, crashed into a wall and plunged into the water at Lough Island Reavy Reservoir, near the village of Castlewellan in County Down, Northern Ireland.
  • Emanuele Garosci
    • November 9 in the Trofeo Rally Nazionali in Italy
      • Emanuele Garosci, 41-year-old from Turin, Italy, suffered an apparent heart attack whilst driving the Citroën C4 WRC #8 entered by D-Max team, which he shared with co-driver Giancarla Guzzi. It appeared that he managed to drive his car to a rest in a safe spot, next to a hedge on the left hand side of the road, before losing consciousness. First to reach the place were the next competitors, Fabio Mezzatesta-Daniele Renzetti who stopped their Ford Fiesta R5 #11 and came to help.
  • Miloš Vágner
    • November 9 in the Czech Rally Championship
      • Miloš Vágner died from injuries sustained in the crash. Despite the immediate intervention of the emergency crews that performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for almost 40 minutes, the doctors could do nothing to save his life and he was pronounced dead. His co-driver Petr Gross was taken in serious condition to the University Hospital in Hradec Králové. Because of cerebral edema, he was kept in an artificial coma.

Auto racing is the most dangerous sport on Earth. It can be very hard to explain why people would risk their lives in a automotive race. Driving is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It’s just an absolute thrill to take a car and go as fast as it can go. I’ve raced on the high banks of Talladega, and when you’re racing side-by-side at up to 200 mph, you feel absolutely alive! At it’s very core beyond speed, it’s about beating the competition. I think of it like how people are so drawn to soccer. For millions of people around the world, soccer is a religion. For me and millions of others, racing is my religion and NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Tudor United Sports Cars, FIA WEC, MotoGP and others are it’s churches. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for me and millions of others like me around the world, it’s the only thing that gives our lives any meaning.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXXH6OYLpZY]

About Author

My name is Tucker Carmen White. I'm from Knoxville, TN. I'm here because I have a deep love of NASCAR and I'm currently studying to become a sports journalist. While NASCAR is my primary focus, I've recently gotten into Formula 1. Being from Knoxville, I'm naturally a diehard fan of the Tennessee Volunteers.

“Racing, competing, I take it in blood, is part of my life” Ayrton Senna

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