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The tragic weekend at the Imola race track

Domagoj Valjak

Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian Formula One driver, who is regarded as one of the greatest Formula racing drivers of all time. Senna won three Formula One world championships while racing for the McLaren team, and in 1994 he started racing for the Williams team and continued with his spectacular racing performance.

However, Senna tragically died on May 1st, 1994, while he was leading the famous San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. During the 7th lap of the race, Senna accelerated up to the staggering 310 km/h and entered a dangerous corner before managing to slow down properly.

 

Senna began racing go-karts in Brazil at the age of 13  Photo Credit

Senna began racing go-karts in Brazil at the age of 13  Photo Credit

 

Senna won the 1993 European Grand Prix in changing conditions, in what many considered one of the best drives of his career  Photo Credit

Senna won the 1993 European Grand Prix in changing conditions, in what many considered one of the best drives of his career  Photo Credit

He crashed into a concrete barrier that divided the racetrack from the bystanders. Although he was still alive when the medical personnel reached the wreckage of his racecar, he was pronounced dead only after a few minutes. He suffered extensive internal injuries, and a piece of wheel suspension pierced his helmet and caused severe trauma to his head.

Senna’s death was a devastating blow for the Formula One racing community, and fans still remember him as a larger-than-life persona who could conquer any racetrack. Still, Senna failed to conquer the race track at Imola, and that particular race track was considered to be cursed even before his fatal accident.

Aerial view of the Imola circuit

Aerial view of the Imola circuit

Over the years, many drivers were injured while trying to slow down while approaching the same corner where Senna hit the concrete barrier. Four drivers nearly died between 1987 and 1992 while trying to conquer the corner, and the day before Senna died, another man lost his life to the treacherous curves of Imola.

During the qualification for the race, which took place on April 30th, Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger crashed into the concrete wall at the side of the racetrack. Ratzenberger was driving at the whopping speed of 315 km/h and crashed into a corner that is situated just before the corner where Senna had his fatal accident.

Roland Ratzenberger on his last day (April 30th, 1994) at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix. Later in the day, Ratzenberger was killed during qualifying  Photo Credit

Roland Ratzenberger on his last day (April 30th, 1994) at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix. Later in the day, Ratzenberger was killed during qualifying  Photo Credit

Several other minor accidents occurred at the beginning of the race during which Senna died, and the deadly weekend at Imola caused people to proclaim the racetrack cursed.

Read another story from us: Charles Dickens survived a horrific railroad crash and died on the fifth anniversary of the accident

Although many drivers are hesitant to test its dangerous curves, the racetrack is still used for Formula One racing.