Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Crashes That Changed Motor Sports Forever


10
Ayrton Senna's Crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix
People gather around Ayrton Senna’s crashed car. AFP/AFP/GettyImages
People gather around Ayrton Senna’s crashed car. AFP/AFP/GettyImages

Ayrton Senna was widely considered one of the best Formula One (F1) drivers in the world, which is why his fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix shocked the racing world. Happening during a race weekend where other drivers had also died, Senna's crash could have had drastic and dark consequences for Formula One racing.

Senna's car left the track traveling at an estimated 191 mph (307 kph), hitting a concrete wall and sending pieces of his car's steering and suspension into the cockpit [source: Johnson]. In the aftermath of the crash, Formula One made several changes to the rules to improve driver safety. Engine size (and thus power) was limited, the sides of cockpits were raised to offer drivers more protection, suspensions were altered to prevent the wheels from disconnecting and the front wing and diffuser were downsized, which slowed the F1 cars down. The Grand Prix Drivers' Association reformed to advocate driver safety. The Senna crash also changed how F1 tracks are designed, with more space between the track and the walls to allow cars time to slow before a collision [source: Johnson].