A couple of weeks ago, TSN’s SportsCentre paid homage to Helio Castroneves’ blowup on Izod IndyCar officials at the Honda Edmonton Indy by running a list of the Top 10 meltdowns in sports. While it was entirely appropriate, the problem was that they ran the exact same top ten the week before. If they put in five minutes worth of effort into their segments, they would have found that there are loads of moments in motorsports history where people let their tempers get the best of them.
So to pay proper homage to Helio’s temper getting the best of him (and to tell TSN to bugger off), here is our Top 10 Motorsports Temper Blowup Moments.
The Inspiration: Helio Castroneves
Here’s a guy that seems to have a smile perpetually on his face. Then The Great Brian Barnhart decided to throw a very questionable black flag for blocking and Helio lost it. Apparently, TGBB’s idea of a blocking rule is that the inside is for passing only. Want to defend your position? Not on his watch. It’s a dumb rule and Helio let every IndyCar official he saw know exactly what he thought. The fact that it cost him a $60,000 fine is ridiculous. TGBB should have to pay that up for the mockery that continues to make out of IndyCar.
#10 Rubens Barrichello
Right before the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, Rubens signed a new contract with Ferrari. That deal would take him through the 2005 season. So how was he rewarded? He was told to get out of Michael Schumacher’s way and let him win the race. Schumi already had a sizeable championship lead but Ferrari isn’t a team to leave things to chance. It wasn’t a last second decision by the Scuderia either but Rubens held point until he finally decided to give way. Any rational person would have been a lot more discreet about this but the hot-headed Brazilian decided to make it blindingly obvious to the rest of world what was happening. Not an explosive temper moment in the highlight reel sense but clearly Ruben’s temper got the best of him on this occasion.
#9 JC France and Chris Bingham
Grand-Am was one of the many series that ran on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Here’s two Daytona Prototype cars coming together in the long final turn. France and Bingham had a quick discussion after a crash in the 2006 Grand-Am race there. Interestingly, France is a member of the same France family that runs NASCAR and ISC. See, the France family are firm believers in the “have at it, boys” style of policing racing.
#8 Nelson Piquet
Even three-time World Drivers’ Champion are prone violent outbursts. Piquet (in the white Parmalat sponsored Brabham) was trying to lap Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar on the 19th of 45 laps. Unfortunately for the defending World Champion, Salazar seemed to forget that he was a mobile chicane. They collided in the actual chicane and Piquet decided to show off some of the training that helped him win the title. Bonus points for the voiceover.
#7 Nigel Mansell
The video that I wanted isn’t online. This is the second try at a start in the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. On the first lap, Senna got away from the start to the lead. Mansell tried a bit too hard to make something happen and took both men out. In the aftermath of Mansell collecting Ayrton Senna, the Englishman grabbed the Brazilian by the throat and the pair exchanged blows. Being one of the historic stops during the season, Spa tends to fire people up. Take the next video, for example.
#6 Michael Schumacher
Formula One drivers tend to be calm, cool and collected individuals. Somehow, when Schumacher and Coulthard got near each other during the height of the Ferrari/McLaren rivalry, things got a bit heated. In the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, the two collided when Coulthard allegedly brake checked Schumacher. The eventually seven-times World Champion decided the best course of action was to track down Coulthard and slug him. Only some timely intervention prevented a classic moment in F1 history.
#5 Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani
Tag should probably get top billing for this entry but when you don’t take your helmet off… This was at the short-lived Champ Car event at San Jose. PT outbrakes himself and runs long. When he scythed his way back into traffic, he took off Tagliani’s nose. Tag was outraged because he had wrecked all his other cars and now he was without useable chassis for the next event. Like most French guys, he kept his visor on while fighting. NBC cutting away from the fight to show pit stops was probably the worst thing that happened to Champ Car since Driven.
#4 Michael Simko
If you don’t like stock car racing, you may want to turn away for the rest of this list. Nowhere is irrational anger celebrated more than in stock car auto racing. (Throw “NA” in front of the first letters of those last four words and you’ll catch my drift.) For example, take these two good old boys from a local short-track race. Michael Simko got wrecked by the driver of #20 and repaid the favour with flying dropkicks, thrown helmets, and sissy slapping that makes for a great moment of stock car hot-headedness.
#3 Kevin Harvick
Yes, he won the Atlanta race three weeks after Dale Earnhardt died but my favourite Happy Harvick moment came at Bristol. Having just been wrecked by Greg Biffle in a Busch Series race, Harvick leapt off Biffle’s car, into a crowd of people, and grabbed The Biff by the firesuit. An entrance that spectacular can’t miss this list.
#2 Carl Edwards
This one should be blindingly obvious. This year, he’s tried to kill Brad Keselowski twice. I doubt you need me to recap this one. Brad wrecked Carl early in the Atlanta race so Carl returned the favour at 190 MPH. At Gateway, Brad bumped his way to the lead so Carl put him in the inside wall and took out half-a-dozen cars. Also among his temper tantrum moments is his threatening to slug Matt Kenseth at Martinsville. I think too much of professional wrestler John Cena is rubbing off on Carl.
#1 Cale Yarborough and the Allison Brothers
The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first NASCAR race shown flag-to-flag on network television. Richard Petty won the race but had some help doing so. Bobby Allison led Cale Yarborough on the final lap but they wrecked each other on the backstretch. The resulting brouhaha between Yarborough and the Allison brothers garnered NASCAR unprecedented attention across America. It’s fanbase has grown ever since.