Watch A NASCAR Driver Wreck An Infield Station Wagon At The 1981 Daytona 500

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The 1981 Daytona 500 has plenty of reasons to go down in history. It was Richard Petty’s last of seven Daytona 500 wins, marking a successful end to a career that had started to wane. It was the first outing for the “downsized” Cup Series cars. It also resulted in one of the wildest crashes the sport has ever seen when Geoff Bodine spun out into the infield and took out someone’s poor station wagon.

My YouTube algorithm is almost exclusively made up of videos of cats, historical recipes, and old motorsport clips; I really only use the site when I’m hoping to unwind. But when I checked in this morning, the algorithm had unearthed something exceptional: A clip of Bodine’s absurd crash from channel NASCARWrecks.

During the race, Terry Labonte leaked oil on the track, and Geoff Bodine’s No. 23 simply couldn’t avoid it. He lost control of his car and careened into the infield. Photographers and spectators scattered, and Bodine’s car finally came to rest — thanks to some help from a station wagon.


At the time, Bodine had only competed in a handful of Cup Series events, though he hadn’t had much success; in the 1981 Daytona 500, he retired but was still classified in 22nd place, which matched his best finish from the previous year at Rockingham. After nabbing an impressive seventh-place finish in Charlotte at the tail end of the 1981 season, Bodine signed on for a near-full season the following year. He nabbed Rookie of the Year accolades and managed his first pole position in 1982.

If you want to check out the full broadcast of the race, it’s available on NASCAR Classics, and some of the clips in it are just delightful. It’s a lovely little flashback to a much different era, and I’m quite confident I’ll be sitting down to watch the full video this weekend.

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