In an era when most stunt-driven blockbusters are really half cartoon, Death Race's director Paul W.S. Anderson insisted on keeping the action real. The shooting philosophy was something along the lines of, "why blow up a fake car when you can blow up a real one?" So the movie features of ton of real cars packed with real armor plating and real machine guns really crashing. And during an interview with io9, Anderson revealed how he rammed these monster cars into cameras without smashing his film equipment into tiny bits.
I wanted to get the cars to drive into the cameras at high speeds, so we built one of my favorite rigs. We built a rig that had a camera and was completely ringed with basketballs. So it was this big giant ball. We stick it in the middle of the road, and the cars would drive at it. There is a shot in the very first race, when the original Frankenstein drives, where the car slides around the corner, and it looks like it hits the camera, and it does. And then the continuation of that is really funny because the camera just rolls away, bounces away, and it hits the wall.