Thrill List: Motor sports

Thursday July 9th, 2009

These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.

10. Tony Stewart If there's one driver today who embodies the characteristics of Dale Earnhardt Sr. -- the tenacity, the ruthlessness, the fearlessness -- it's Stewart. The two-time Cup champion always gets revenge when he's been slighted on the track.

9. Junior Johnson Johnson ran moonshine in his younger days, and on the track he drove as if he was running from the revenuers. He was one of NASCAR's original superstars, winning 50 races between 1955 and '65.

8. Jackie Stewart Between 1965 and '73, Sir Jackie won three Formula 1 championships. Stewart was beloved by the media: he was a quote machine. On the track he displayed so much control it was as if his machine was an extension of his body.

7. Bobby Allison The winner of 84 Cup races, Allison was as aggressive as any driver in the R-60s and R-70s. He was involved in several gruesome wrecks, including one at Talladega in May 1987 that led to NASCAR placing restrictor-plates in the engines to reduce speeds, and one at Pocono in June 1988 that nearly took his life.

6. A.J. Foyt Foyt is perhaps the greatest all-around driver, as he's the only person to have won the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Temperamental and tough as rawhide, Foyt could intimidate other drivers with a simple stare.

5. Michael Schumacher

The seven-time Formula 1 champion rarely made a mistake on the track. He could straddle that razor-thin line between maintaining control and crashing better than anyone in F1 history.

4. Tim Richmond

Rick Hendrick swears that Richmond, who died from complications from AIDS in 1989, is the most-talented driver he's ever seen. The character Cole Trickle was loosely based on Richmond in the movie Days of Thunder.

3. Kyle Busch

Busch is NASCAR's most-thrilling driver today. Aggressive and unapologetic, he can maintain control of the car even when it's sliding through the turns as if on ice. He used to be wreck waiting to happen; today he's a champion in waiting.

2. David Pearson

In his three full-time seasons on the Cup circuit: 1966, '68, and '69, Pearson won the championship each year. A daredevil behind the wheel, he could dart through openings on the track that other drivers couldn't even see. 1. Dale Earnhardt Sr. Nothing could cause the heart rate of a driver to skyrocket like the sight of the Intimidator and his black No. 3 Chevy bobbing and weaving in the rear-view mirror. Earnhardt was never afraid to push a driver out of his way to get to the front, consequences be damned.

Agree or disagree with Anderson's selections? Weigh in here.

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