The ten dumbest last laps in racing history

Illustration for article titled The ten dumbest last laps in racing history

To err is human, so when super-human race car drivers err they do it at the super-worst times. Here are the ten dumbest last laps in racing history, as selected by Jalopnik readers.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our Jalopnik summer feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Photo Credit: Getty Images

10.) 2011 Indianapolis 500

Suggested By: Quattro-luvr

The Offender: JR Hildebrand

The Car: Dallara IR-05/Honda Indy V8

The Aftermath: Rookie JR Hildebrand was leading the biggest event in American motorsports on its last lap. Seeing slow traffic up ahead, and with a hard-charging Dan Wheldon behind him, he chose not to cruise safely around Turn 4 and across the finish line, instead staying on the gas and taking a high line through the corner. His line got too high, and he wound up saying hey to the wall, wrecking his car, but still somehow managing to limp across the line for the second spot.

Video credit: Youtube

9.) 2010 Petit Le Mans

Suggested By: ne1245

The Offender:Toni Villander

The Car: Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GTE

The Aftermath: Risi attempted in the late laps of the race to bring Villander in to the pits for a splash and dash. Unfortunately, there was more dash than splash, and on the last lap he ran out of fuel, stopping on-track at Road Atlanta. Not only was he passed by a Corvette, but in doing so he handed the constructor's championship from Ferrari to BMW. The car ended up placing 12 overall, and 3 in class.


Video credit: Youtube

8.) 2008 Indy Lights at Mid Ohio

Suggested By: AntiSpeed

The Offender: Johnny Reid

The Car: Indy Lights

The Aftermath: Reid was leading under yellow on the second-to-last lap, as the safety car pulled in to the pits to let the field go for one lap before the checkers came out. Reid, thinking the race was over, followed the flashing lights atop the safety car, and entered the pits also. In doing so, he handed the win to James Davison, who scored his first win in the series.


Video credit: Youtube

7.) 1991 Daytona 500

Suggested By: Jstas

The Offender: Ernie Irvan

The Car: Morgan-McLure Kodak Chevrolet

The Aftermath: We include this lap today not because Ernie Irvan was dumb, but because of his sheer dumb luck. With two laps to go, second and third place drivers Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison were battling for position when Earnhardt got loose underneath Allison and spun them both out. In the process, Kyle Petty got entangled in the mess and the race went under yellow. Ernie Irvan had been leading, but was extremely low on fuel, so much so that while the pace cars were out, he drove on the track's apron. He crossed the line in first place with his engine sputtering, and stalled on the infield. If it hadn't been for the yellow flag at the end, he would not have had enough fuel to complete two racing laps and win.


Video credit: Youtube

6.) 2002 Austrian Grand Prix

Suggested By: sugaRAPE

The Offender: Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello

The Car: Ferrari F2002

The Aftermath: On the very last corner of the very last lap leading on to the very last part of the front straight before the finish line, team orders were radioed to Rubens Barrichello to back off and let Michael Schumacher pass for the win. He did so, and caused all kinds of drama in the process. Ferrari were fined one million US dollars for Schumacher's attempted display of humility on the podium, giving Rubens the top step and first place trophy, and the FIA announced at the next race that team orders affecting the outcome of a race were now banned. Too little, too late.


Video credit: Youtube

5.) 2005 United States Grand Prix

Suggested By: jhoff

The Offender: Michelin

The Car: The entire grid, except for the six cars on Bridgestone tires

The Aftermath: The 2005 USGP will go down down in the history books as a joke. A farce. An insult to the ticket-buying public, and to Formula 1 fans everywhere. Michelin showed up to the event with tires that could not handle the physical forces put upon them in Turn 13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Turn 1 in its normal configuration). After a host of bad crashes during practice and qualifying, they urged teams using their tires not to participate in the race. The teams listened (despite threats of fines and other repercussions from the FIA) and left Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan to run the race. Ferrari ran away with their lead (despite almost taking each other out at one point) making the whole race an awful victory lap for the team. The sport was embarrassed for months to follow.


Video credit: Youtube

4.) 2003 F3000 at Monaco

Suggested By: toracer32x

The Offender: Bjorn Wirdheim

The Car: Lola B02/50 chassis, Zytek/Judd KV engines

The Aftermath: Super psyched about winning at Monaco, Bjorn slowed down to a stop, on the track, right in front of his pit box to congratulate his team, believing he'd already crossed the line. Unfortunately, the finish line was still a few meters ahead of him. Nicolas Kiesa, at that point in second place, sped by him to take the win. Despite that colossal screw up, he would go on to win the F3000 Championship that year.


Video credit: Youtube

3.) 1998 British Grand Prix

Suggested By: Geisterfahrer

The Offender: The FIA

The Car: Ferrari F300

The Aftermath: With two laps to go, Schumacher was given a stop & go penalty for passing under caution earlier in the race. The FIA issued the penalty after the deadline (within 25 minutes of the incident) which left Ferrari with very little time to bring their driver in to complete it. Schumacher entered the pit lane on the last lap, crossed the finish line from there to win the race before entering his pit box, stopped in his box, served the ten-second penalty, and then drove off to complete his parade lap. The FIA later decided that because the race stewards had missed their deadline, Schumacher's penalty would be dropped, and the results would stand. McLaren protested, the FIA ignored them, and the three stewards who had messed up handed in their licenses and resigned.


Video credit: Youtube

2.) 1976 Daytona 500

Suggested By: 87 Caprice Estate

The Offender: Richard Petty, David Pearson

The Car: STP Dodge, Wood Brothers Mercury

The Aftermath: Petty was leading the race on the last lap when he was passed on the backstretch by Pearson. He attempted to retake the lead in the last corner, but ended up hitting Pearson's car, sending them both spinning into the infield. Pearson managed to keep his car going, Petty did not. Dug into the dirt and with a stalled engine, The King would get his car pushed across the line by his team for a second place finish, after Pearson limped over the line to win.


Video credit: Youtube

1.) 1991 Canadian Grand Prix

Suggested By: Kate's Dirty Sister

The Offender: Nigel Mansell

The Car: Williams FW14

The Aftermath: Nigel Mansell, with a big lead on the last lap of the race, slowed down tremendously to wave to the crowd. The engine revs in his Williams dropped too low in the hairpin and he stalled the car with a 57 second lead on the second place driver, Nelson Piquet. Mansell had led the previous 68 laps of the 69 lap race, but would hand the win, on a silver platter, to an ecstatic Piquet. The action starts at about nine minutes in to the clip.


Video credit: Youtube

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2001 Daytona 500

I am surprised this did not make the list.