May 1, 1994 — Ayrton Senna crashes and dies during the San Marino Grand Prix

One of the best Grand Prix drivers in history, Senna’s death came while in the lead of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The cause of his fatal accident had never been conclusively determined, but the result of it was never in doubt. Senna was traveling at 135 miles per hour when his car hit the wall at Tamburello corner, and his car folded up. Senna sustained a number of injuries, including three separate blows to the head – any one of which would likely have been fatal by itself.

Ironically, Senna had spent much of that morning meeting with his fellow drivers to form a committee to help ensure Grand Prix driver’s safety after the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenburger the previous day on the same track. As one of the most senior and respected drivers, Senna offered to head the committee. Later, when his car was examined, it was discovered that Senna had placed a furled Austrian flag in the vehicle, presumably intending to fly it in memory of Ratzenburger during his victory lap.

In the wake of Senna’s death, the committee for driver safety was indeed formed, and today the Grand Prix Driver’s Association stands alongside his many sporting achievements as Senna’s legacy.