nascar, daytona 500, racing, auto racing, daytona, 1984, crashes, photos, photography

Calamity Corner, Daytona 1984



It was February 1984 and I was covering NASCAR “Speedweeks” at Daytona International Speedway for United Press International. I ended up being assigned to cover pit road for all the races that week. I was OK with that, reasoning that if there were no crashes in the races, pit stop and checkered flag shots would be the photos that would be moved on the wire. SInce I was on pit road, I figured I was in good shape to get a few photos transmitted, which was good since I was being paid per picture on the wire.



The week started out crazily, with Ricky Rudd tumbling violently out of turn 4 during the Busch Clash, a race for the previous year’s pole position winners. From my spot on pit road, I could not see turn 4. I did, however, hear a huge collective gasp go up from the grandstands and as I turned to see what was happening, the whirling, twirling, flipping T-Bird of Rudd came crashing into my field of view. I managed to raise my camera and fire a few frames, I couple of which were moved on the UPI wire. The week wore on and the problems in Daytona’s turn 4 continued, with a Goody’s Dash Series car spinning off turn 4 and onto pit road, striking a fireman who was working in the pits (his injuries were not life-threatening), a spectacularly violent and fiery crash involving Jim Hurlbert and Natz Peters during Friday’s Consolation Race for drivers who had failed to make the Daytona 500 and Randy Lajoie’s end over end turn 4 crash during the Busch Series. I seemed to be a magnet for the action all week and managed to get several action shots moved on the UPI wire.



By Sunday, TV commentator Ken Squire was calling Dayton’a Turn 4 “Calamity Corner” and all eyes (and cameras) were focused on the corner. The green flag fell and I was at my pit road post. After a week of carnage, Sunday’s 500 miles passed without incident. For the week, I had produced $200 worth of photos for UPI, and I was ecstatic that my photography career seemed to by taking off. Calamity Corner has not been tamed, however, as over the years the final turn at Daytona’s famous speedway has seen more than its share of action, even claiming the great Dale Earnhardt in 2001.

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1984 Daytona 500 results

POS START DRIVER NO. MAKE LAPS STATUS PTS.
1 1 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 200 running 185
2 29 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 200 running 175
3 26 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 200 running 170
4 7 Neil Bonnett Chevrolet 200 running 165
5 3 Bill Elliott Ford 200 running 160
6 6 Harry Gant Chevrolet 200 running 155
7 14 Ricky Rudd Ford 199 running 146
8 9 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet 199 running 142
9 11 David Pearson Chevrolet 198 running 0
10 33 Jody Ridley Chevrolet 198 running 134
11 13 Phil Parsons Chevrolet 198 running 130
12 2 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 198 running 132
13 24 Lennie Pond Chevrolet 197 running 124
14 17 Ken Ragan Chevrolet 197 running 121
15 40 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 197 running 118
16 19 Dean Roper Pontiac 196 running 115
17 41 Jimmy Means Chevrolet 196 running 112
18 20 Greg Sacks Chevrolet 195 running 109
19 25 Dean Combs Oldsmobile 194 running 106
20 37 Clark Dwyer Chevrolet 191 running 103
21 42 Mike Alexander Oldsmobile 187 engine 100
22 36 Connie Saylor Chevrolet 186 overheating 0
23 23 Doug Heveron Chevrolet 173 ignition 94
24 38 Ronnie Thomas Chevrolet 173 rear end 91
25 28 Buddy Arrington Chrysler 170 connecting rod 88
26 12 Dick Brooks Ford 158 accident 85
27 18 Ron Bouchard Buick 158 accident 82
28 31 Joe Ruttman Chevrolet 146 accident 79
29 8 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 108 cylinder head 76
30 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac 95 accident 73
31 34 Richard Petty Pontiac 92 camshaft 75
32 30 Tommy Gale Ford 69 engine 67
33 10 Tim Richmond Pontiac 66 cracked head 64
34 4 Bobby Allison Buick 61 camshaft 66
35 22 Bobby Hillin Jr. Chevrolet 60 engine 58
36 21 Dick Trickle Chevrolet 53 ignition 55
37 16 Lake Speed Chevrolet 46 push rod 52
38 5 Buddy Baker Ford 30 vibration 49
39 32 A.J. Foyt Oldsmobile 24 suspension 46
40 15 Kyle Petty Ford 21 engine 43
41 35 Trevor Boys Chevrolet 17 engine 40
42 39 Dave Marcis Pontiac 3 engine 37