Wrecks are an inevitable part of NASCAR. With the cars traveling at such high speeds and, in some cases, inches from one another, there will be times where one wrong move results in a car or several cars being totaled. Since wrecks are so common, you may wonder where wrecked NASCAR cars go.
Wrecked NASCAR cars go to various places. Before anything else, teams will break down the car if possible and save any component deemed usable for future races. In other cases, drivers may repurpose the wrecked cars for other uses. NASCAR sends all unusable components to be recycled.
Below, we will further explore what happens to wrecked NASCAR cars, including at times selling off usable components to stock car teams racing in local or regional levels. We will close out by exploring one of America’s most interesting outdoor attractions: Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Racecar Graveyard.
What Happens To Wrecked NASCAR Cars?
NASCAR drivers and teams know that in a sport with so many cars running at such high speeds, wrecking is an inevitable part of the sport. Therefore, you see hundreds of wrecks occur in the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and the Truck Series each year. While some are too far gone, NASCAR teams can salvage the pieces of others and put the car back onto the track.
All NASCAR cars are composed of small and large components, with the largest being the chassis, body, tires, and engine. Before NASCAR teams deem the car totaled, they will haul it back to the race shop to see if there is any piece in good enough condition to be used for the future. So, it is not uncommon to see teams use components of wrecked cars for those they have yet to build.
However, when the driver totals a car, there will always be parts that are no longer deemed safe to use on new cars. Take the car body, for example. Clearly, there are times when the entire body can’t be used again, but small pieces of sheet metal can be used to patch up damaged parts on other cars during future races.
Once teams break the car down and determine which pieces can be saved for future use, they must also plan for what happens to components they cannot repurpose for future cars. In this case, they will get rid of the pieces to be repurposed in different ways.
NASCAR Cars Do Not Go To Waste
NASCAR teams go through many car components, most notably the tires. And while it’s logical to think teams just toss parts that are no longer feasible to use on the cars, this is far from the case. Pieces that teams cannot salvage sometimes end up as collectible items, though it is more common for drivers to take it upon themselves to repurpose them.
If you walk into a NASCAR driver’s home and see a metal coffee table, odds are that table came from the body of a wrecked car. Other drivers will store the entire car in its wrecked form in a garage, which is what Ryan Newman did in 2020.
Ryan Newman’s 2020 Daytona 500 Car
As the 2020 Daytona 500 came to a close, Ryan Newman experienced one of the worst crashes in recent memory. Ryan Blaney got into his back bumper as Newman attempted to slide in front, causing Newman to hit the wall with so much force that his car overturned and landed on its roof. Corey LaJoie slammed into Newman, sending the mangled car to slide across the start-finish line.
The crash resulted in serious injuries for Newman, but he also claimed the car saved his life, and he went on to race later that season when NASCAR returned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since he looks upon the car in a positive way, he kept it instead of allowing his team at the time to take it apart and repurpose its components.
Some Leagues Use Old NASCAR Parts
There are times that NASCAR teams will opt not to use some components from wrecked cars, even if they are reusable, such as if specs are changing for the following season. In cases like this, teams will sell the parts to other series whose specifications may involve hand-me-downs from NASCAR.
While you see this occur often in ARCA, it is not the only series out there whose teams invest in used parts. There are local and regional stock car racing series all over the United States and these teams often run on budgets so strapped that they run entire seasons on used NASCAR parts, some of which will have come straight from wrecked cars.
KEY POINTS• Wrecked NASCAR cars are often repurposed for other uses
• Parts of the cars may be reused in future builds
• Other racing series may also make use of old NASCAR parts
Are Any Parts Of A NASCAR Car Recycled?
Many parts of a NASCAR car are recycled, with one of the most notable components being the tires. They are recycled by Liberty Tire Recycling, and the rubber is used for things like rubberized mulch and pavement. The metal components are recycled by L. Gordon Iron and Metal Company.
NASCAR drivers will only keep their wrecked cars if it means something to them, because they only have so much space in their garage. Ryan Newman may have kept his mangled car from the 2020 Daytona 500, but he probably doesn’t keep the dozens of other cars he has wrecked since he started racing full-time in 2002.
Everything Gets Recycled
So, if components on a NASCAR car can no longer be used for racing, and if drivers are not interested in keeping the wrecked cars as they are, or repurposing them for other uses, teams will resort to recycling everything they cannot salvage.
NASCAR ensures not a single lug nut or bolt will end up rusting away in a landfill. You may ask who would be willing to take mangled car pieces, break them down further, and recycle or repurpose them for another use? Well, there is an iron and metal company in Statesville, New York, that is willing to take on the challenge.
L. Gordon Iron And Metal Company
While NASCAR recycles different components with different companies, like Liberty Tire for all the rubber they use on weekends, L. Gordon Iron and Metal Company is where NASCAR outsources its metal recycling to.
And just one look at the company’s page will tell you why, as they specialize not only in steel recycling, but also car bodies themselves. The scrap metal company buys all different types of components that include tin, copper, brass, aluminum, titanium, and cast iron.
However, the L. Gordon Iron and Metal Company is just one place NASCAR drivers and teams ship unusable cars and their components. One former NASCAR driver may see the cars as a treasure and buy them instead for what might be one of the most famous outdoor museums in America.
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Racecar Graveyard
Dale Earnhardt Jr is one of NASCAR’s most famous names. The son of a NASCAR legend, Dale Jr racked up 26 Cup Series wins and a career-best third-place finish in 2003. He also won 24 Xfinity races and won two series championships in 1998 and 1999.
A 15-time winner of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award, it’s easy to understand why NASCAR fans are enamored with all of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s ventures. From his Dale Jr Download podcast to the Racecar Graveyard he keeps in the woods surrounding his property in North Carolina.
The Racecar Graveyard features more than 50 cars driven by some of the most popular drivers in the sport. All these cars were part of some of the sport’s more notable wrecks in recent years, and if you ever have the privilege of visiting the graveyard, you may also remember witnessing some of the more spectacular and unfortunate crashes these cars found themselves in.
Notable Cars At Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Racecar Graveyard
You will recognize the names of many drivers whose cars reside in the graveyard, but if you followed Dale Earnhardt Jr, you may remember his Hellman’s sponsored Chevy Impala from a Daytona Xfinity race in 2010. During the unfortunate event, he collided with Brad Keselowski while the two ran near the front, sending the car sliding onto its roof and obliterating the front end.
Of all the wrecked cars in the graveyard, Earnhardt Jr has the most, and another notable car was his National Guard Chevrolet SS from Texas Motor Speedway, which went up in flames in April 2014. Just 13 laps into the race, he dipped too low in the dogleg portion, turning him into the wall, and rupturing the oil line, causing flames to surge out from the bottom and rear end.
Not all of the cars in Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Racecar Graveyard crashed out of races. His AMP/Get One car survived a big crash on the last lap of the fall Talladega race in 2009. During the wreck, Earnhardt Jr sliced his way through the melee, untouched, finishing 11th. That car, unfortunately, never performed well, so his team stopped using it and he placed the car in the graveyard.
Another Notable Number At The Graveyard
While Earnhardt Jr’s old #88 car is featured several times at the Racecar Graveyard, the #24 of Jeff Gordon, Chase Elliott, and William Byron is perhaps the second-most featured. During the May 2017 race at Charlotte, Elliott piloted the #24 car. He drove over a piece of debris, which ruptured the front valance, setting the car on fire.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Brad Keselowski, driving the #2 car at the time, slipped on rear-end grease that came off of Dale Jr’s nephew’s Jeffrey Earnhardt’s car, and crashed into Elliott. The incident occurred on Lap 20 and ended both Elliott’s and Keselowski’s days early.
Wrecked NASCAR cars go to a variety of places, and there is no single final destination. Most of the time, NASCAR teams will take the car apart if possible and salvage any component they deem usable. In some cases, drivers keep their mangled cars, while other unusable components are recycled.