Killed Myself When I Was Young – Click above to view videos after the jump

This compilation of racing crashes in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s is a jarring reminder of when auto racing really was a life-or-death venture. Put simply, if you drove a race car during this period, you were as likely to be killed as you were to retire.

Thanks to ever-increasing speeds and no regard for driver and spectator safety, it was common for races to turn deadly. Because of the sacrifices these drivers made, racers, teams and sanctioning bodies have since come together to make racing safer than ever.

If "Killed Myself When I Was Young" interests you, check out the hour-long YouTube video "Grand Prix: The Killer Years," detailing the fight for even basic safety measures in Formula 1. Be advised that neither video is for the faint of heart; both are embedded after the jump.

Killed Myself When I Was Young from The Jalopy Journal on Vimeo.





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      RaymondC
      • 3 Years Ago
      After seeing this documentary, it's very easy to understand why when the movie "Grand Prix" was made you saw all those scenes of horrifying crashes in that movie--many of them were inspired by REAL crashes on the Grand Prix circuit in the middle 1960's that claimed way too many lives. Yet, sadly it took the untimely deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and the polarizing, but highly-respected Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix to finally convince the FIA to finally put in extensive safety measures to better protect the drivers. That's why today's Grand Prix circuit tracks have extensive run-off areas with impact-absorbing walls and the "safety cage" around the driver is vastly improved since then.
      Jim
      • 3 Years Ago
      yeah, it's striking how race cars back then were almost literally nothing more than "four wheels and a seat." heck, even *street* cars were not much better. it's just like hydroplane racing back in the same era. 180 mph on the water, and *anything* goes wrong the driver's a projectile. it's amazing what can happen to a modern race car/boat and have the driver come out of it in one piece.
      zguy83
      • 3 Years Ago
      The second video was unbelievable. I was not alive during those times and it is hard to even imagine the bravery, and talent that those gentlemen were gifted with. Thanks to Jackie Stewart and others we still have incredible racing but with an eye towards creating the safest environment possible. Thank you for posting this AB!!! and thank you to BBC for making this doc.
      J. Edwin K.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just watched both videos. Honestly, it reminds me of the gladiator games in Rome. My hat goes off to Jackie Stewart for doing something about it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Kai F. Lahmann
        • 3 Years Ago
        Actually the fastest ever was Stefan Bellof - who was known to stay on the gas even as places everybody else brakes. He died in Spa while trying to overtake Jacky Ickx - at al place both before called to dangerous to overtake...
      RunYouOver
      • 3 Years Ago
      Brutal! Those guys were nuts!
      Andy Smith
      • 3 Years Ago
      The second video was incredible. The Father of my best friend growing up in the UK, was a seed salesman for ICI. He used to tell the story of visiting the Clark farm in Berwickshire, and while in the house, hearing his car start up and drive off. It was young Jimmy Clark, trying a little autocross. Jim was always my favorite and arguably the most talented driver ever. The only consolation to his untimely death, was that he died doing what he lived for. RIP J.C..
      cypherxx666xx
      • 3 Years Ago
      02:22, weeeeeeeee, i believe i can fly!
      Brummie
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've just watched that, its really is worth the effort, those were really brave guys.
      Javanese
      • 3 Years Ago
      Real men walks off after getting thrown from a car at 80mph and race the next day. F1 wussies nowdays b1tch about some guys rubbing his wheel going into a corner. BTW if collin seems like a monster, enzo will be the devil.
      burkevillebum
      • 3 Years Ago
      Call me crazy but I kinda wish I raced in these days......when people were is complete awe just because you got in these vehicles and pushed it to the limit not to mention the glory for the guys who came out on top at each event
        cullinaire
        • 3 Years Ago
        @burkevillebum
        Have you seen the videos before you made that comment? I saw them, and any bravado I had in the past about "racing when racers were MEN" is long, long gone now. Give me my HANS or give me death.
        walkmolson
        • 3 Years Ago
        @burkevillebum
        Seriously? Maybe you should get in a modern race car on a race grid and do 200 miles in it NOW, before you spew something to the effect that THOSE days were somehow more glorious just because truly great race car drivers died because they weren't given safety equipment or fire equipment. Watch the last 5 minutes of the second video and you tell us if you think David Purley thought that Roger Williamson died a death worth dying... I think the idea that somebody should burn to death in a car in front of, not just the spectators, but the friends & loved ones... and, more than that, the people who are supposed to be there to rescue you, just because they can't be bothered to have the equipment in place or, even, stop the race temporarily, is absolutely criminal. After watching this, Jackie Stewart rises to a new high on my list of ballsy racers for just what he did/tried to do in the face of great risk to his career & passion.
        Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @burkevillebum
        that would last until you got ejected from the car. then the first thing to go through your mind would be "OMG," and the last thing that would go through your mind would be your spine.
      Hernan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow... that second video makes Chapman seem like a monster. I would be interested to see a more balanced story telling his side. It's amazing that this went on for so long - gruesome but fascinating videos.
        cullinaire
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hernan
        I don't think so personally - they did mention how affected he was by his drivers' deaths (well, at least the ones that did well). Also, nobody was forced to drive for him - they all wanted to win and saw Colin as the one that could make it happen. In the end, I think he deserves credit for having the fortitude to press on even through the tragedies.
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