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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 13:31 GMT
Legends claimed by the track

Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt is the latest in a long line of motor racing greats to be killed behind the wheel. BBC Sport Online's Simon Austin looks at three of the most illustrious.

Jim Clark, 1936-1968
The Scotsman won the drivers championship in 1963 and 1965.

In his first title year, he won seven of his 10 races, a remarkable feat when you consider that he was racing against the likes of Graham Hill, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart.

Clark died at the age of 32 at Hockenheim, Germany, in a Formula Two race.

Jim Clark
Clark won Indy 500 in 1965
On a damp track he went off on the fifth lap of the first heat at 150mph and crashed into a cluster of fir trees. He was killed instantly.

Clark's right to a place in the F1 hall of fame is unquestionable. He won 25 grand prix races and is still the only man ever to have won both the F1 and the British Touring Car titles.

His victory in the 1965 Indianopolis 500 leaves him with a record that will probably never be matched.

Who knows what else he might have achieved, had he not decided to take part in that F2 race at Hockenheim in April 1968?

Gilles Villeneuve, 1950-1982
The Canadian is regarded as one of the bravest and most tenacious drivers ever to have competed in F1.

Indeed, Niki Lauda said of him: "He was the craziest devil I ever came across in F1."

Villeneuve's record appears modest at first glance - he recorded only six wins and two poles in six seasons.

Gilles Villeneuve
Villeneuve: Regarded as a fearless driver
But the statistics fail to tell the entire story, as he often had to play second fiddle to team-mate Jody Scheckter on team orders.

Villeneuve's greatest achievement arrived in 1979 when he was runner-up in the world championship, a narrow four points behind Scheckter.

The Canadian was tipped to take the title outright before he was killed in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.

He died displaying characteristic courage and determination.

Driving up behind Jochen Mass, he ducked outside, but was launched over Mass's left rear wheel and flung nose first into the sand.

Villeneuve was catapulted out of the cockpit and suffered injuries that proved fatal.

Ayrton Senna, 1960-1994
The Brazilian is regarded by many, including Stirling Moss, as the greatest driver ever to grace F1.

He was recognised as a prodigious talent from the age of 13, when he started to compete in karting in his home country.

Ayrton Senna
Senna: Killed on tragic weekend at Imola

Senna won three championships, including back-to-back titles in 1990 and 1991, and his total of 41 race wins puts him third behind Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher in the all-time list.

His huge will to win often put him at odds with other drivers, and a feud with team-mate Prost at McLaren reportedly forced the Frenchman to leave and join Ferrari.

Senna died at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994 driving for his new team, Williams.

The Grand Prix was already reeling from the death of the young Austrian Roland Ratzenberger and the serious practice crash of Rubens Barrichello.

Going into the famous Tamburello corner at 191mph, Senna lost control and hit the wall. He died later in hospital.

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See also:

19 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Motor racing star killed at Daytona
19 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Nascar reels from loss of legend
19 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Death puts safety in the spotlight
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