The Biggest American Tragedy, 9/11 Forced NASCAR to Make an Unprecedented Change in This Manner

Published 11/24/2022, 12:45 PM EST

2001 was definitely one of the worst years for NASCAR as well as the world. But what’s interesting to note is that it was the only year when NASCAR ran a race on a Thanksgiving weekend. Well, currently it is Thanksgiving week, so why not dive deeper into this exceptional event?

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Like always, the Cup Series season in 2001 started in early February with a schedule of around 36 series races in 40 weeks. Moreover, Thanksgiving, which has traditionally been an off-day for the drivers, was meant to be a holiday as per the 2001 schedule.

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However, due to the unforeseen and terribly unfortunate 9/11 terrorist attacks, NASCAR suspended its New Hampshire race. Originally scheduled for September 16, 2001, the governing body had to now find the next open date for the race.

 

And it was not going to be easy. Because first of all, there were no off weekends between the original date and the decided wrapping date of the season. Furthermore, the probability of snow and frigid weather was hanging over the event.

So, to be extra sure, NASCAR announced that they would be running the final race on Black Friday. This was because if the weather interrupted the plans, at least the sanctioning body could have the option of pushing it back to the coming Saturday or Sunday.

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However, the weather agreed with the sport on the day of the race. And as a result, for the first and probably the only time, NASCAR ran a race on a Thanksgiving weekend.

Why was 2001 particularly difficult for NASCAR?

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The Daytona 500 race is always one of the most hyped and sought-after events in NASCAR. Moreover, the Daytona 500 in 2001 was particularly special as it was going to be the first race broadcasted after the sport signed its new deal with Fox Sports.

However, a fateful incident during the race changed the course of NASCAR history forever. During the final laps of the 2001 Daytona 500 race, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt collided with fellow racers Sterling Marlin and Ken Schrader.

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As a result, Earnhardt crashed into the retaining wall of the track. The impact of this crash was so powerful that Earnhardt suffered a basilar skull fracture. Unable to sustain the injury, Earnhardt died instantly, leaving behind a swarm of fans and loved ones on that fateful day at Daytona.

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Devyani Sharma

261 articles

Devyani Sharma is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. Having completed her postgrad in English Literature, she has worked as a content writer for a while now. With over three years of experience in the field and hundreds of articles published on the web, Devyani has now associated with EssentiallySports to start her journey in the world of sports journalism.

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