There are many people involved with the car industry, but there are few as passionate and committed to it as Richard Hammond. Besides his successful career as an automotive TV host, he’s also been involved in many daring deeds and challenges, for entertainment or just adrenaline’s sake.
That being so, while Richard has been quite successful at proving himself behind the wheel, putting his life in serious risks so many times has taken a toll on his well-being more than a couple of times.
So how many times has Richard’s luck run short, while challenging himself on the road, and what exactly has happened to him? Keep with us to know all Richard Hammond’s biggest and most disastrous accidents!
Vampire Dragster Crash
Richard Hammond might have suffered several accidents throughout his life, but his Vampire dragster crash was the scariest and most serious of all by far. It all happened in September 2006, when while filming extra footage for “Top Gear” in Yorkshire, Richard’s front-tyre failed at 319mph. The dragster then proceeded to roll over the grass several times, apparently embedding itself into the ground by the time it stopped. Upon inspection, paramedics found that soil had entered Richard’s mouth, and his left eye was injured as a result of losing his helmet during the accident.
While Richard’s eye injury was serious enough, the worst of his damage was done somewhere else. According to Leeds General Infirmary in West Yorkshire, they remained optimistic of Richard’s eventual recovery despite him having ‘suffered a significant brain injury’, and being in a two-weeks long coma.
Richard recovered well physically, and went returned to the small screen four months after the accident, affirming that he was ‘absolutely fixed’. However, his brain injury reportedly caused him severe loss of memory and depression: ‘there was a lot more to fix than I thought’, he told The Guardian: ‘I’ve had some very dark moments, I’ve even wished that the car had hit me a bit harder’, he sadly admitted.
Where Is The Vampire Nowadays?
Besides the horror caused by Richard Hammond’s 2006 crash, the incident had some long-term consequences as well. Not only did he confess to not remembering filming “Top Gear Live In South Africa” and attending interviews the year following his accident, but had a great deal of internal struggles dealing with the memories of the crash, to the point of asking his co-stars to not mention it again.
The accident also caused suspicion on what the real intent behind his cut-short deed behind the Vampire Dragster’s wheel was. According to several reports, Richard and “Top Gear” were trying to break the British land speed record of 300.3mph set by Colin Fallows in 2000, but these rumors turned out to be false, according to a post-crash investigation led by Health and Safety Executive, which learned that the show’s producer didn’t allow Richard to attempt a record break, due largely to its risks.
Even if back in the day, Richard swore never to drive the car again, in 2022 he was at least able to sit on the Vampire dragster again after so many years, in a clip for “DriveTribe”, though he admitted getting ‘chills’ about it and having no intention of driving it again in the near future. On the bright side, the Vampire is looking as good as ever, as it was recovered and restored in 2019 by a Herefordshire team of petrol-heads known as The Syndicate.
Almost 11 years after his Yorkshire crash, Richard Hammond escaped from death’s claws once again. As it happens, everything was ready for him to finish his run at the 2017 Bergrennen Hemberg, an uphill timed car race held in St. Gallen, Switzerland every year. Though every run is held one car at a time, Richard lost control of his white Rimac Concept One on a turn just meters away from the finish line, tumbling down the hill and landing approximately 110 meters away from the track with him crawling away before it caught fire.
The accident was messy to say the least, and had severe consequences – Richard was airlifted to a local hospital, where he needed ten surgical screws to fix his fractured left leg’s tibial plateau and plate. According to Richard, falling down felt ‘like being in a tumble dryer full of bricks going down a hill’ and admitted to thinking during the accident that he would die. Meanwhile, his wife Mandy admitted she couldn’t help but feel terrified that his 2006 had repeated: ‘(there) were the memories of his last accident. I’m not a panicker, but I almost went to pieces this time’, she told Metro UK.
The event organizers were sanctioned with a $5,138 fine for allegedly violating the International Sporting Code, though the race was still celebrated in following years.
While his respective crashes in Yorkshire and in Hemberg have been the most horrific in his career, Richard Hammond has a long list of other less-serious accidents to remember. Just a couple of months before he crashed his Rimac Concept One, he had a messy motorcycle crash while filming an episode of his show “The Grand Tour” in Mozambique.
Richard quickly released a statement on social media shortly after it happened, clearing up the situation: ‘I can confirm that yes, I fell off a bike, many times in fact, and yes, I banged my head and everything else. But life goes on’. Later in 2018, Richard affirmed to having fallen off that bike at least 30 times during his stay to the East African country, but acquired non-serious injuries, though his ”Top Gear” co-star Jeremy Clarkson had already told a different version of what happened to The Sun: ‘He really did hurt himself quite badly’.
Whether Richard actually had a hard time getting over that crash, it’s apparent that the accident wasn’t the only enduring situation he and the rest of “The Grand Tour”s cast faced while in Mozambique, but fortunately all of them completed their mission there in one piece….more or less!
Cheap Van Challenge
One of Richard Hammond’s earliest crashes in his TV career was in 2006, when he had some problems with his Bedford Rascal van, which resulted in an almost-trip to the hospital.
It all happened as the “Top Gear” cast filmed one of their accustomed cheap challenges for the eighth season. While Jeremy Clarkson bought a Ford Transit and James May went big with an LDV Convoy van, Hammond was the smartest by buying a Bedford Rascal van, the overall lightness and engine power of which won him three out of six challenges.
However, bad luck was soon to knock at Richard’s front door in the last challenge. The crew played cops and robbers, setting the goal of driving in front of The Stig for the longest time, but although Jeremy and James’ races didn’t go exactly well, Richard couldn’t make use of his van’s weight advantage. As he tried to make a scandinavian flick, the speed played against him and his car fell on its side, so he immediately lost the challenge. Fortunately nothing serious happened to Richard, but this one accident gained him early car crasher fame.
Needless to say, “Top Gear” gained huge fame not only for its memorable humor and deeds, but also for its stars’ willingness to go on some of the most enduring but epic trips all around the world. However, the farther from home, the possibilities of facing huge problems increased, and that became very clear from the start of their “Bolivia Special” in 2009.
First of all, the helicopter meant to drop their cars at their Amazon location apparently crashed, leaving them to take their cars from a raft and having to transport them through the river. Starting their trip in Bolivia’s jungle, the three men passed through several challenges during their route. By the time they reached a desert in Iquique in Chile, things took an unfortunate turn, as Richard mistakenly left his Toyota Land Cruiser’s brake in neutral while talking with co-star Jeremy Clarkson, ending with his car rolling over and losing a wheel. The Toyota was ultimately left unusable, marking the end of his trip in South America.
While this one accident didn’t affect Richard in any way, “Top Gear” fans theorized that the crash was actually a planned stunt meant to restrain him from risking himself running on the dunes.
24 Hours Race
Even if the supposedly-scripted moments in “Top Gear” were there from time to time, in many instances their on-screen crashes weren’t planned or faked at all. One of the clearest examples of the latter case took place in 2007, when Richard suffered yet another accident exactly a year after his horrific Yorkshire crash.
It all started when Richard and his “Top Gear” co-stars entered that year’s BritCar, a 24 hour endurance race which saw them struggling to finish their route at the Silverstone Circuit without having any experience in the field. The idea actually came from a previous challenge, in which they ended up with hundreds of gallons of biodiesel, choosing to use it for their BMW 330d as they took turns driving it during the race’s duration.
The race started on the wrong foot when a fuel pump replacement led the team to start the race somewhere differently than on the grid, but things actually took a turn for the worse when a rival team’s Mosler MT900R accidentally crashed against the BMW driven by Richard at the time, resulting in a dramatic accident caught on screen. The damage suffered by the BMW was severe, but somehow the team finished the race, despite the whole ordeal being scary to say the least.
Very much enjoying a holiday romance with a borrowed bike and failing to carry off the open face helmet look. pic.twitter.com/Xlev9tuaCk
— Richard Hammond (@RichardHammond) July 22, 2022
While most of Richard Hammond’s accidents have been recorded on video, there’s also a couple which took place when no TV cameras were around. Such a thing happened when he crashed his custom-made Morgan AeroMax on the streets of Gloucestershire in South West England in 2009.
According to online reports, Richard had been driving back home from flying classes when a confusing turn driving on a roundabout, resulted in him crashing against a Nissan: ‘someone braked sharply in front of him, and then a number of cars went into the back of each other’, as a witness recalled in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Fortunately, nothing serious happened to Richard as he was at the back end of the line. Luckily enough, the situation between him and the fellow driver wasn’t uncomfortable, as his fame gained him a good-humored exchange with the Nissan’s owner.
In 2011 the car was sold to Chris Vermeulen, who then sold it to millionaire Philip Allen in 2014. However, while Richard admittedly regretted getting rid of it and planned on eventually buying it back, he can no longer put his hands on it, as Allen has been planning for years to use the car as a coffin once he passes away, putting an eccentric and unexpected end to the memorable Morgan Aeromax.
Most of his accidents might have happened while driving autos, but unfortunately Richard Hammond doesn’t have better luck while using other types of transportation.
In 2014, when the “Top Gear” crew flew to Thailand to film their “Burma Special”. Although it was expected that the adventure would take some unexpected turns, Richard never thought his horse would cause his biggest problems, when it got a little too close to James May’s, resulting in Richard being thrown, and severely injuring his wrist and hip, ultimately describing the incident as one of the hardest he’d faced, and comparing it to his then almost-clean record of two-wheel crashes: ‘the worst I have done in 25 years of biking is bruise an elbow!’, he told MCN.com back in the day.
“The Grand Tour” Crash & The Future
Even though Richard Hammond is no longer in “Top Gear”, his adrenaline-junkie nature hasn’t changed in any way, so his accident-prone lifestyle hasn’t stopped either, especially through his appearances in “The Grand Tour” show.
In mid-2022, Richard was having a good time with his co-stars while filming their show in Poland near Westerplatte, a place of historical significance during World War II. However, the trip took an unexpected turn when, as reported by witnesses through social media, Richard crashed his race car during a timed challenge between him and his co-stars. Though no further information was released about it, the pic of Richard, James May and Jeremy Clarkson standing next to the ruined car certainly worried their fans.
Fortunately, it’s apparent that Richard wasn’t severely injured in said crash, but this isn’t a sign for him to stop. As the “The Grand Tour” star May admitted, they weren’t stopping their adventures anytime soon: ‘we’ll probably keep doing it until one of us just dies’, he told Metro UK in 2022.
Though we hope nothing bad happens to them in the future, it’s for sure that Richard and his mates aren’t afraid of the risks their profession entails – foolhardy, perhaps?.