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When we think of high-speed car chases, most of us envision squealing tires, maniacal laughter from getaway drivers, and maybe an explosion that foils law enforcement and sends the antiheroes burning rubber off into the sunset.
It’s a tried and true action scene that never fails to get moviegoers on the edge of their seat, smirking as if they’re riding shotgun. But real life is filled with plenty of car chases that are just as entertaining as Hollywood’s renditions.
Check out our list of the top 20 high-speed car chases. Some are mind-blowing, and some just downright hilarious. Sit back, buckle up, and get ready for one heck of a ride.
Just to clarify: We don’t endorse, encourage, or approve of speed racers or any illegal driving activity of any kind.
You never know when you might encounter a crazy driver like these on the road. Enter your zip code and check out free car insurance rates to make sure your coverage will have your back no matter what you get swept up in.
#1 – O.J. and the White Bronco
This isn’t the craziest chase on our list, but we’re kicking things off with one of the most famous car chases of all time. On Friday, June 17, 1994, O.J. Simpson was expected to surrender in connection with the murder of his ex-wife and her friend.
Rather than follow protocol, Simpson took LAPD on a wild goose chase across Los Angeles’ freeways. In one of the most prolific murder cases of the decade, the nation sat stunned and watched as live TV coverage showed Simpson’s white Ford Bronco trail down LA’s highways for more than two hours. It turns out Simpson himself wasn’t even the driver; it was his longtime friend, Al Cowlings.
Against the backdrop of the chase, a press conference was held where O.J.’s friend and later defense attorney, Robert Kardashian, read a letter left behind by Simpson.
“Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve had a great life, great friends,” the letter ominously intoned. “Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours. Peace and love. O.J.”
#2 – Stolen Spinning Mustang
Oklahoma police had to pull out all their best tactics to stop this car thief, whose 40+ minute car chase resulted in some impressive maneuvers of his own.
#3 – Corvette Escape Artist
At 165 mph, a black Corvette tore through the Arizona desert. Once you hit speeds that high, it’s hard to imagine things ending well. Coupled with the police tailing you, the outlook isn’t pretty.
Most people were sure the driver of the C4 Corvette was a goner after his car smashed into the back of a semi-trailer truck and disintegrated. The driver was thrown from the vehicle, somehow unscathed, and decided at that point to not push his luck any further and surrendered to police.
#4 – Behind-the-Scenes Getaway
This clip from Super Speeders 3 – On the Run shows a first-person view of what it’s like to be in one of the high-speed cars pursued by the police. Most of us are used to the bird’s-eye view news helicopters provide, but this snippet puts you right in the action.
#5 – The Old Switcharoo
In September 2011, a 23-year-old car thief from Queensland, Australia, had to improvise halfway through a police chase when the stolen yellow Porsche he was driving got too damaged to drive. The thief had to leave the Porsche behind and jump in a much bulkier, slower alternative.
#6 – The Tank Thief
In 1995, a man managed to steal an M-60 Army tank from the National Guard armory and drive the vehicle through San Diego, drudging up chaos and destruction. He completely crushed at least 40 cars during his rampage and was ultimately shot by police.
The driver, later identified as Shawn Nelson, a plumber and U.S. veteran, was dead upon arrival at the hospital.
#7 – The Car Kidnapper
When 28-year-old Ryan Stone stole an SUV in 2014, he wound up taking more than just a car. In the backseat of the stolen vehicle was an innocent 4-year-old who was trapped on a high-speed chase for over an hour.
The child was ultimately rescued unharmed and Stone was later arrested after hijacking two more vehicles in an attempt to escape from police.
#8 – The Wannabe Lumberjack
Finding a good getaway vehicle may be a challenge for some criminals. You have to act fast if you don’t want to get caught, and options are limited. Such was the case in this video, when a man trying to evade law enforcement decided his best choice was a . . . lumber truck?
That seems odd enough, but this carjacker took things a step further. He waved to pedestrians on the sidewalk as he drove away, who shockingly encouraged the show to go on.
It only gets crazier as police arrive and a gun shot at the rear tire of the truck results in a raging fire. This is definitely a chase you need to see to its end to fully believe.
#9 – The High Schooler
Parents always worry about their teen drivers, but most aren’t concerned about their kids being involved in a high-speed chase.
If your child was recently licensed, you might want to have a talk with them just to be clear on what is okay behind the wheel after watching this video. A 15-year-old girl from Los Angeles led police on a wild chase that involved over 50 officers, multiple collisions with signposts, driving in the wrong direction and tearing through grassy areas.
We have a feeling her punishment was more than just a tight curfew after this incident.
#10 – Need for Speed
A driver topped 135 mph as he raced to escape from police in California. The 35-year-old was arrested and booked on felony and evasion charges but only after speeding through multiple intersections, driving into oncoming traffic, and ultimately being stopped thanks to a police pit maneuver.
A crash and standoff followed, but he was ultimately taken off the road and into custody where he belongs.
#11 – The Luxury Liner
A man who stole a limousine baffled everyone when he decided that his only means of escape was going back the way he came — literally. The 20-foot limousine was going 120 mph when police in Westchester Country, New York, first spotted him.
The driver tried to ditch law enforcement by taking side streets, but then he headed back for the freeway. There, he hit a whopping 150 mph before blowing the limo’s transmission. When he came head-on with a police roadblock, it seemed the chase was over. But the driver wasn’t giving up so easily.
After throwing the limo in reverse, the suspect throttles backwards onto the southbound freeway in the wrong direction. His desperation led to an insane maneuver that shocked officers and, amazingly, caused no accidents.
The reason for this high-speed, life-threatening pursuit? A suspended license.
#13 – Acquaman in Training
After this sedan was stolen, a deputy’s chance hit of the license plate led to a chase. The quick-thinking deputy decided to forgo a high-speed chase and instead called head to have spike strips placed in the suspect’s path. The crafty traffic diversion sent the their off into a grass embankment, taking the sedan’s bumper off in the process.
The car flew off the embankment and became airborne before crashing into a nearby lake. The driver knew land wasn’t a safe bet, so he headed straight for the water and attempted to swim away.
#14 – The Practical Jokester
A woman in a silver Scion trying to evade police in Los Angeles spent her hour-long pursuit taunting the officers trying to apprehend her.
It was strange enough how she drove in circles with a police cruiser on her tail, but it was even more shocking when she got out of the car to taunt the officers before hopping back in and speeding off.
A pit maneuver slowed her down, but she threw her Scion into reverse and wasn’t caught until police completely boxed her in and forcefully removed her from the vehicle.
#15 – Skater Boy
Board is life, right? At least that was the motto for one criminal who tried to escape from police on his long board. After a 90 mph getaway attempt caused him to crash a stolen BMW, the car thief hit the ground running, clutching a skateboard in his arms.
He tried to gain speed but couldn’t even manage to mount the board before he resorted to running again.
#16 – The Daredevil
One biker decided to turn his high-speed chase into a circus act. As he sped through Los Angeles, he taunted offers by standing up on his bike in the midst of the chase. At one point, he even casually took off his helmet to put in his ear buds. Maybe he made a police chase playlist just for the occasion.
#17 – The Slowest Chase of All Time
Maybe this driver didn’t get the memo, but usually driving slowly is a surefire way to get caught when police are chasing you. Instead of trying to lose the cops, a suspected drug dealer decided to make the most out of his final moments before arrest by crawling along the freeway with a band off police cruisers behind him.
Spectators left their own vehicles to take pictures and record the ultra-slow chase, during which the suspect removed his shirt and talked casually on his cell phone.
It wasn’t until hours passed that he must have gotten bored and decided to hit the gas. That’s when law enforcement had enough and the SWAT team got involved.
#19 – Clean Sweep
Criminals scramble to dispose of drugs or weapons when law enforcement approaches, but these suspects weren’t quite subtle enough with their tactic.
A high-speed police chase took a surprising turn when the driver and passengers began throwing bales of marijuana out of the windows and onto the highway. A total of 21 bales were disposed, and it’s reported that several drivers even stopped to scavenge up some of the drugs for themselves.
#20 – The Police Hijacker
There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, and it appears this 22-year-old carjacker took that to heart. In the midst of being apprehended for stealing another vehicle, the student decided to hop behind the wheel of the arresting officer’s cruiser.
Another police officer’s dash cam caught the entire high-speed chase that involved squads from six jurisdictions. After driving into oncoming traffic on a split highway and causing a pursuing vehicle to do the same, this insane carjacker was ultimately stopped thanks to a fishtail maneuver.
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