What Happens When a Driver Dies In a NASCAR Race?

There’s no doubting that NASCAR races carry with them a certain amount of risk, but what happens if a driver dies in the middle of a NASCAR race? Does the race end, or is it continued to the finish? There’s no hard and fast answer to that question — it depends on the series and circumstances. In most cases, following a serious racing accident, safety and medical personnel attempt to stabilize the driver and get him to the trackside medical facility. If the injuries are deemed to be potentially life threatening, the driver is immediately transferred to the nearest trauma center, sometimes bypassing track facilities altogether. Resuscitation efforts are continual throughout the process. Simultaneously, the track is cleaned up, barriers repaired, and the race resumes, as the ultimate condition of the injured driver has yet to be determined. In the case of Dale Earnhardt, who died while competing in the 2001 Daytona 500, the accident occurred in turn 4 — the final turn of the final lap. Race officials threw the checkered flag and the yellow simultaneously as the front-runners crossed the finish line, aware only that a crash had occurred behind the finishers.