Every time you watch a car race, you hope to see cars going wheel-to-wheel, underdog drivers making huge upsets, with careers and championships on the line. Jalopnik readers know ten races where all these dreams came true.
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Now, ten races is too small a list to really cover every nail-biting car race. Some races have thrilling finishes, but the rest of the race is kind of boring, like this year's Nascar race at Watkins Glen. Some events are just too small to make it on, like this unforgettable dogfight in the Porsche Cup back in the ‘90s. Others are just too obscure. Nobody remembers the unbelievable finish to the 1964 Formula One championship, decided in a flurry of team orders from Ferrari on the very last lap.
Other series just have too many great races to mention. The American Le Mans Series has seen crazy final lap finishes year after year, like in the 2007 Sebring 12 Hours and the 2009 Laguna Seca race. Formula One has had so many crazy races we don't even have Senna on here (we couldn't pick between Brazil 1991 and Monaco 1984, really). We didn't have space for anything from CART's glory years, and that's leaving out "The Pass."
On top of all that, we're not even doing the insanity of two-wheeled racing, but that's for the best. If we included bikes, this whole top ten would be filled with the Isle of Mann TT, perhaps the last great road race.
So read this highly subjective list and scream your head off at us in Kinja below, because chances are, we've left out your favorite
Photo Credit: Getty Images
While some might say that the 1992 Indy 500 had a more crazed fight to the finish, or that Tacuma Sato's Ricky Bobby-style pass in 2012 was more memorable, but in our minds the most exciting Indy 500 was when J.R. Hildebrand made a rookie mistake coming out of turn four on the very last lap. He crashed, Dan Wheldon won, it was insane.
Suggested By: Jimal, Photo Credit: Getty Images
There has never been a Formula One grand prix where a driver started from dead last and won the race. Jenson Button came close at last year's Montreal GP, winning from last place (during the race) with a record six pit stops at the longest grand prix in history. He did it on the last lap, forcing a mistake from a driver who does not make mistakes. It wasn't so much a race as a deep sea battle.
Suggested By: somnambulist, Photo Credit: Getty Images
The British Touring Car Championship: outstanding drivers in regular-looking family cars, awesome race tracks, and tons of wheel-to-wheel action. The whole series is excellent, but if there's one race that shows everything great about BTCC, it's the ‘everybody go crazy then' 1998 race at Donington.
Suggested By: Mikeado
The Formula One season had been all over the place and was coming down to the wire. If Brazilian Felipe Massa won (at his home grand prix) he could win the entire championship. If Lewis Hamilton came fifth or higher he would win the championship. Massa won the race, caught up in changing weather conditions and as he crossed the line, Hamilton had just dropped from fifth to sixth. As Ferrari celebrated, Hamilton slipped past another racer and made it up to fifth. No one could believe it.
Suggested By: Jones Foyer, Photo Credit: Getty Images
Ford got its first win at Le Mans in 1966, but that race was actually kind of boring. Most spectators left before it was over. Ford's last win at Le Mans, however, was thrilling to the very last second. After covering 3,105 miles, the final margin of victory was less than 400 feet.
Suggested By: wkiernan, Photo Credit: Ford
Like BTCC, Australia's V8 Supercars series is just amazing. It's like Nascar, but with corners and less WWE-style manufactured drama. Watch Shane Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup duel over the last two laps of this race and you'll know what we're talking about.
Suggested By: E91Ed
Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve's smashing, bashing race for second is legendary. If you watch this race, you will love Formula One forever.
Suggested By: Ravey Mayvey Slurpee Surprise
It's known as "The Run." The 2006 top fuel championship was decided at the last pass of the last race, and Tony Schumacher broke the national record with his winning run. At 4.428 seconds, it may be the greatest run in NHRA history.
Suggested By: Zoom
You know the '76 Daytona 500 for its crash at the end. The whole thing was amazing though. Petty and Pearson faced off in the classic kind of racing we want out of every Nascar race. This is the kind of racing we want to see every time cars compete.
Suggested By: Monsterajr
The greatest races are when a driver pushes through the field, against unbelievable odds, and comes out ahead. There is no greater xample of this than the unparalleled Juan Manuel Fangio breaking lap record after lap record on the old, deadly Nürburgring to secure perhaps the greatest victory in modern motorsports. This race is well on its way to becoming legend, rather than history.
Suggested By: Kiwi_Commander_Can't_Get_Enough_Underscores