Russel Phillips autopsy nascar news remains relatable even 28 years after his tragic death.
The 26-year-old man who died while competing in a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway went down in history as one of the most gruesome crashes of all time.
Phillips, 26, of Charlotte, was a race-car fabricator and volunteer fireman. The sportsman driver was horrifyingly decapitated after his Oldsmobile slammed roof-first into the fourth turn wall.
The roof of the car was instantly sheared off, and Phillips was pronounced dead on the spot.
In video footage taken at the scene of the accident, the first rescuer is initially shown running to the car, then immediately turning away after seeing Phillips’ body and realizing the hopelessness of any attempt at resuscitation.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway has been home to many tragic car crashes since it first opened in 1960. Phillips was the ninth person to die in a racing-related incident at the 1.5-mile oval Charlottle.
The impact of the crash was so severe and horrifying that the crowd was stunned and remained silent for more than thirty minutes.
The car hit the wall at such a high speed that the rescue workers and NASCAR inspectors had to clean the debris that was scattered for more than 200 yards along the track.
The 67-lap race had been scheduled to be run Wednesday night but was postponed until Friday by Hurricane Opal.
Phillips had won the pole Tuesday – his first in 17 NASCAR Sportsman starts at Charlotte – and had told reporters at the time, “I was just hoping to qualify in the top five so I wouldn’t have to work through a lot of traffic.”
After the accident, freelance photographer Tom Whitmore of Chesapeake, who was shooting from inside the fourth turn, said, “It looked like someone had taken a can opener to the roof. It was like there was a cave where the roof was supposed to be like someone had scooped it out. That’s as gruesome a wreck as I can ever recall.”
The rescue workers covered the deceased’s body with a sheet and held up a huge yellow tarp to keep the scene out of view of the crowd.
Workers wearing surgical gloves began placing numerous white linen sheets at spots along the track and in front of the fourth-turn grandstand where human remains had been located. Expectedly, the grandstand was closed at the time of the crash.
The NASCAR officials investigated every aspect of the deadly accident so that further measures could be taken to avoid such accidents in the future.
What measures did nascar take after Phillips death?
Phillips’ untimely and tragic death raised a lot of questions about the roll cage design practices, construction methods, and inspection techniques applied to NASCAR Limited Sportsman Division cars.
In the year following Phillips’ death, a roof reinforcement called the Earnhardt bar was made mandatory on all NASCAR vehicles.
The bar was supposed to prevent the roof of the car from separating from the body in case the vehicle ended up getting into an accident.
Charlotte Motor Speedway also withdrew from the Sportsman Division in 1996, following three deaths in 6 years, citing Phillips’ death as “the last straw.”