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A NASCAR 12 Pack of Big Ones from Talladega


12. 1987: An Allison in the fence ... and in Victory Lane

The wreck that changed superspeedway racing forever — and could’ve ended the sport as we know it. A right rear tire blows on Bobby Allison’s Buick at well over 200 mph, blowing the quarter panel off and allowing air under the car, sending it skyward into the catchfencing. Starting in 1988, restrictor plates were used to keep a cap on speeds, thus ushering in a new era of plate racing in NASCAR. By the way — and in a twist you could only find in a Cup race — Davey Allison claimed his first career win the same day his father’s wreck red flagged the race.

by Vito Pugliese

11. 1991: A case of the Mondays

Run on a Monday the 1991, the Die Hard 500 produced this track-clogger on the backstretch. Ernie Irvan raised the ire of many drivers and fans with this accident, which about got him blacklisted in the garage for the next six months. Irvan apologized in a driver’s meeting at the July race three months later for his actions. The wreck resulted in sidelining Kyle Petty for much of the year with a broken leg and nearly crushed Alan Kulwicki’s foot. Another issue: the grass infield was soaked with water and a number of cars just got stuck in the backstretch muck.

by Vito Pugliese

10. 2001: Bobby-on-Bobby Crime

The late Bobby Hamilton Sr. won the spring Talladega race in 1991 and was making a bid on the high side in the fall to sweep the Alabama events. Bobby Labonte wasn’t having any of it, though, throwing a block … and then blocking the track with cars spinning and crashing. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. held off Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton for his first of five wins (four consecutive) at Talladega.

by Vito Pugliese

9. 1999: It's cool guys … don’t stop or anything

It isn’t just the Cup cars that are prone to crazy crashes at Talaldega. In 1999, an accident in this Busch Series race results when Ken Schrader gets turned going into Turn 1 … while the second group of cars apparently elects not to stop. Fire chases Schrader’s car down the track adding to the ugliness of this one.

by Vito Pugliese

8. 2003: This ain’t Huntsville

A race sponsored by a video game? How about a video-game-style wreck? It was only one car, so technically not a “Big One” – but try telling that to Elliott Sadler. His No. 38 lifted into LEO (Low Earth Orbit) on the final lap of the 2003 EA Sports 500 when he moved to block Kurt Busch … and things just go wrong from there for about a quarter of a mile.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 2002: Busch Grand Crashional

A classic chain-reaction wreck, Shane Hmiel gets into Scott Riggs, which sent Johnny Sauter tumbling down the backstretch taking out about 30 cars in the process. Big superspeedway wrecks are no joke, but Jeff Fuller’s account of the “CAHHHNIVAL” ride is pretty funny.

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by Vito Pugliese

6. 2005: Win by attrition

Jimmie Johnson rarely gets caught up in the Big One — because sometimes he starts them, and ironically enough, that’s the driver who oftentimes makes it through unscathed. In 2005, he triggers this massive wreck at the front of the field which collects Elliott Sadler, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. Don’t think Talladega makes a difference in the Chase? Martin lost the title by 105 points in 2005; he lost 125 points in this accident.

by Vito Pugliese

5. 1997: Right Rear, Left Steer

Ever wonder how the best drivers in the world can wreck driving in a straight line? Well here is yet another example of that at 195 mph. Jeff Gordon has a right rear tire go down, sending him swerving across the track and triggering a massive accident. The backstretch infield was not paved like it is today, creating even less visibility and more dust, dirt and havoc.

by Vito Pugliese

4. 1994: That’s gonna leave a "Mark"

Talladega used to have some weird obtuse angles along its frontstretch wall. In 1994, Mark Martin found pretty much all of them, nearly parking the Valvoline Thunderbird among the wildest infield in motorsports. If there were going to be a track where this would happen, Talladega is it. This live satellite feed of Bob Jenkins, Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons is an interesting listen, as is Martin’s reaction upon exiting the car.

by Vito Pugliese

3. 1996: “And Earnhardt is on his feet!”

Ever wonder why Dale Earnhardt was referred to as “One Tough Customer” and “Ironhead”? This is why. After being turned head-on into a very non-soft wall and then getting t-boned in the freaking roof by Derrike Cope, he pulls himself from the car. And two weeks later at Watkins Glen, he put it on the pole with a new track record. The next day vendors were honoring the momentous occasion with t-shirts that said “Hurt’s So Good.”

by Vito Pugliese

2. 1993: “Rusty Spins and gets Airborne…”

Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt were friends, but that relationship was put to the test at times during the early- to mid-1990s — because of incidents such as this. On the final lap of the 1993 Die Hard 500 (perhaps the greatest restrictor plate race ever) Earnhardt’s car begins to sputter being low on fuel, but catches again once the track flattens out. He gets into Wallace as they approach the finish line, sending Rusty as high as Bob Jenkins’ voice. Earnhardt was visibly shaken by the accident, having stopped to check on his friend on the cool-down lap.

by Vito Pugliese

1. 1996: Craven’s four-story tumble

Last fall’s 30-car wreck at Talladega was something for the ages, but it’s hard to beat Ricky Craven launching his car 40 feet into the air and landing on the apron of the racetrack. Forget roof flaps; this thing needed flaps, rudders and ailerons. Craven awoke in a hospital, but in much better shape than one would expect after this terrifying tumble.

by Vito Pugliese