May 1 - 1994 - The Death of Ayrton Senna
Any death in auto racing is shocking, as it happens at high speed out of nowhere and is usually shown on live television. Yet when Ayrton Senna crashed into a concrete barrier during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, it was altogether something else. Senna was the biggest star in Formula One, an international celebrity, and a national hero in his native Brazil. He also died one day after the Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger died in a qualifying session at the same track. More shocking, these were the first deaths on a Formula One track in 12 years, after racing deaths occurred about once a season in the 1970s and 1980s. Finally, Ayrton Senna's death was captured on live international television, so the whole world saw him crash into a concrete barrier at the Tamburello Corner on the 7th lap. Senna's front right tire came off and flew into Senna's cockpit. Senna was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was officially declared dead that evening. His funeral was one of the largest events in Brazilian history, and the wreck itself would lead to a number of safety improvements.