18. Dale Earnhardt dies in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500
Date: February 18, 2001
A fatal wreck is a fear that has to be in the back of all NASCAR drivers' minds during every race. In early 2001, one happened on live TV in front of a packed audience and millions watching from home when the sport’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt, died in a crash. Worse wrecks have happened the sport's history—hell, Earnhardt even survived a few, but this one was different.
When Earnhardt’s No. 3 car slammed into the wall in Daytona at an estimated 161 mph, he was killed instantly as an entire fan base watched in horror. It’s something the sport, and its fans, still haven’t completely gotten over.