1995 Winston 100 (partially found footage of NASCAR Sportsman Division Series race; 1995)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident/disturbing visuals.


Russell Phillips.

Status: Partially Found

The 1995 Winston 100 (also known as the 1995 Sportsman 100) was a race held as part of the 1995 NASCAR Sportsman Division Series. Occurring on 6th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would be won by Chevrolet's Gary Laton. However, the event is overshadowed by the fatal crash of Russell Phillips, which is considered among the most gruesome accidents in NASCAR's history.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1995 Winston 100, alongside the 1995 Duron Paints And Wallcoverings 100 held the following day, were the last NASCAR Sportsman Division Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and two of five to be held for the 1995 season.[1] The race lasted 67 laps or about 100.5 miles.[2] Originally, the Winston 100 was to be held on 4th October, but Hurricane Opal necessitated a delay until the 6th.[3][4][5] Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Russell Phillips winning the pole position ahead of 56 other entries in an Oldsmobile.[5][3][2] This was his first pole in 17 Sportsman starts at Charlotte.[3] Post-qualifying, Phillips stated that "I was just hoping to qualify in the top five so I wouldn't have to work through a lot of traffic."[3]

Of the limited details surrounding the event, it is known that Gary Laton won the race after passing Lester Lesneski late in the race, claiming $3,000 in prize money.[5][3][2] Lesneski redeemed himself in the second race however, dominating the 1995 Duron Paints And Wallcoverings 100 by leading 50 laps to claim victory.[6][5]

Death of Russell Phillips[edit | edit source]

Phillips had managed to lead the first few laps of the Winston 100,[2] but quickly fell back through the field.[4][3][5] By lap 17, he was in tenth place, when Ford's Joe Gaita collided with Oldsmobile's Morris Bice up ahead, with both spinning out of Turn 4.[7][3][4][5] Phillips was instructed by his brother and spotter John to go high, with Chevrolet driver Steven Howard also ordered to do the same.[4] Howard braked as he went high, but Phillips continued driving at full speed, with speculation being that he was trying to speed by Bice's Oldsmobile rather than avoid it, as it was heading back up the track.[4] NASCAR officials believe that Phillips realised that he was going to collide with Howard, and jerked his Oldsmobile to the right at the last moment.[4] The officials blamed Phillips for the resulting accident, but Howard, in a 1996 interview, felt that the crash was his responsibility.[4]

Regardless of who was at fault, Phillips collided with the right rear wheel of Howard, with the momentum of the latter's vehicle causing both cars to fly.[7][4][3] Phillips' vehicle crashed into the catchfence, with the impact being so severe that the roof and roll bars completely collapsed.[8][4][3][7] Fully exposed to the elements, Phillips was decapitated by a caution light that penetrated the ruined windshield, while the catchfence itself dismembered him.[7][4][3][8] Phillips was 26, and was known for being a race car fabricator, as well as a volunteer fireman.[3][4] He had also recorded a top-10 finish in one of the Sportsman races he competed in at Charlotte, and had a best result of eighth in the Division.[3][4]

The race was stopped for 33 minutes as rescue workers and NASCAR inspectors cleared up the wreckage.[4][3] From those at the event, it became clear that Phillips' accident was among the worst in NASCAR's history.[4][5][7][3] Aside from collecting vehicle parts from the wrecked Oldsmobile, officials discovered that Russell's right hand had been sheared off and was embedded in the catchfence.[4][7] Additionally, workers found Phillips' helmet at the pit road entrance, with his head still within it.[7][3] In total, over a dozen while linen sheets were required to cover up Russell's remains on the track, with many more placed within the walkway of Turn 4's grandstand.[3][8][4] The graphic sight caused some spectators in the stands to faint.[4]

Phillips' death, as well as Dale Earnhardt's similar crash at the 1996 DieHard 500 that caused him serious injuries, resulted in the mandatory introduction of the Earnhardt bar.[7][4] This bar would run down the middle of the windshield, reinforcing the roof's integrity and limiting chances of collapses in future roof-first accidents.[7][4] Meanwhile, the fatal crash marked the beginning of the end for the NASCAR Sportsman Division, as Charlotte's organisers ultimately withdrew from it as this was the third fatal Sportsman accident to have occurred at the track.[8][3][7][4][5] The other fatal accidents involved David Gaines in May 1990 and Gary Batson in May 1992.[8][3][7][4][5] Pocono International Raceway soon followed, resulting in the Sportsman Division dissolving soon afterwards.[5]

Availability[edit | edit source]

Originally, World Sports had intended to broadcast the Winston 100 live.[5] However, the resulting delay caused by Hurricane Opal prevented this, with the network deciding instead to tape the race and showcase it on tape delay.[9][5] Ultimately, Phillips' accident resulted in the broadcast being swiftly cancelled, while it is also unknown whether any filming occurred following the crash.[9][5] As of the present day, the only footage of the race is of Phillips' crash, as it was televised across multiple news broadcasts.[9]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

News report on Phillips' fatal accident.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]