IT’S A fact. Sometimes the white-hot crucible of competition can distil down to the red mist of punching your rival forcibly in the helmet.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that at any level of motorsport, tempers get frayed and otherwise reasonable blokes end up making giant nongs of themselves. So strap in and join us as we take a look at those moments when drivers completely lost the plot.
Throttle Control with Michael Schumacher
It’s rare that a driver looks as if he’s actually about to kill his opponent, but Michael Schumacher’s face as he attempted to force his way into McLaren’s pit garage spoke of a guy you probably wouldn’t trifle with. His contention was that, in typically atrocious Spa conditions, rival Coulthard had lifted off mid-corner as he was being lapped, turning Schumacher’s Ferrari into an expensive trike. Rather gallantly, Coulthard didn’t attempt to unlap himself, instead following the gimped F300 back to pit lane and then was faced by a steaming German who attempting to throttle the Scot while yelling “Are you trying to f******* kill me?”
“The stewards looked at the data and I hadn't braked, so it was just all brushed under the carpet’” said Coulthard in 2003. “The reality is that I lifted to let him pass me, but I lifted in heavy spray on the racing line. You should never do that. I would never do that now. In 1998, I didn't have the experience and the knowledge, and I had never had someone run into the back of me. The minute I knew he was there, and I was told by the team that he was and was trying to allow him to pass me, I should have made a smarter decision."
My name is Juan Pablo Montoya. You broke my head. Prepare to die.
Where to start with Juan Pablo Montoya? We could choose any number of splenetic outbursts, tantrums in press conferences or overly aggressive driving manoeuvres, but the purest essence of JPM is when he walks into a TV camera. “You f****** idiot, you broke my f***** head,” is the Colombian’s rejoinder before going into a bunch of weirdly tuneful Spanish pronunciations, nursing his broken f****** head. Of course, some would maintain that Montoya had something wrong with his head a long time prior to this incident.
Furious Dropkick Mike Simko
NASCAR is a gold mine of angry rednecks with a gutload of fried-chicken-fuelled testosterone and nowhere is this better exemplified than when Michael Simko attempted to put his foot and a windscreen through Don St Denis’ fizzog back in 2003 at the Sharpie 500. As good as this moment is – and it’s one for the true connoisseur of unprofessionalism – seeing Martin come barrelling from his car like a ballistic bargain-bucket, demolishing two stewards, scoring a mere glancing blow on his target and almost getting ploughed into the infield by a golf cart is the icing on the cake. Both men were hugely apologetic afterwards. “Adrenaline goes crazy. We go kind of cuckoo,” admitted St Denis.
‘Mr Rallycross’ Martin Schanche
Norwegian Schanche was a phenomenally talented rallycross driver, winning the European title six times and taking the chequered flag in 74 of his 232 starts between 1977 and 2001. Unfortunately, he also developed a sense of entitlement which manifested in thinking that there was one set of rules for him and another for everybody else. Check this video of him single-handedly attempting to stop a race because the first corner didn’t quite go as intended and then ramming his opponents to smithereens. (view from 1m 58s)
After his racing career, Schanche became a politician. Watch here as he deals with an unwelcome reporter in typical fashion. Scan to 1m56s for the action.
There’s nothing at stake here other than pride, but we all know what pride comes before. Spectator drag racing at the Oxford Plains Speedway looks to be a brilliant spectator sport. Seeing a beater Dodge Neon humiliate a Dodge Ram around a track is one thing. The Ram driver then attempting to grapple the Neon driver to the ground and then not really know what to do next is a winning moment. It’s possibly only topped by seeing Chief Wiggum standing underneath a Dunkin’ Donuts banner. This might just be the most American thing ever.
Custer’s Last Stand
Poor Cole Custer. Aside from sounding like something you’d top a trifle with, he was ruthlessly barged off the track, across the grass and into the wall by the dastardly John Hunter Nemechek in this NASCAR Camping World Truck Series round in Canada. On the last corner, too, Nemechek taking the chequered flag as he was grinding Custer’s truck to a smooth finish on the concrete.
Wholly unimpressed by Nemechek’s assertion that rubbing is indeed racing, Custer waits for his rival to collect the chequered flag, whereupon he puts a tackle on him that Luke Hodge would probably frame on his wall. Unfortunately, he was battling a bigger opponent and couldn’t really follow up. The two teenagers eventually realised that rolling around on a grass verge was pretty undignified, but this still has to go down as one of the greatest interceptions of a fast-moving target.
Don’t Punch The Help
With equal parts adrenaline and frustration running through their systems, drivers who have just retired from a race are usually best given a wide berth. Here we see James Hunt, who has just retired after suffering the ignominy of colliding with team-mate Jochen Mass. "I was right up his chuff,” Hunt explained. “I was forced to go left, then he suddenly moved across to the left, hit the brakes and waved me through on the right. But I was committed and couldn't avoid him. I hit him right up the arse."
Hunt could be notoriously fractious and here he deals in pretty cursory fashion with a concerned marshal who insists on manhandling him at any opportunity, decking the safety hero with a classic right hook. Watching the poor guy’s red hat fall off, Hunt is immediately remorseful, but it didn’t save him from a $2000 fine. The marshal, who went by the name of Ernie Strong, also sued Hunt over the incident. Ernie says of the incident, "If I said anything to him, I can't remember. Hunt gave me a, 'Sorry, old man,' and headed back to the pits."