On the MagnaChem Ice Station level during the "Icing on the Quake" mission, there are various frozen blocks of ice with bodies inside them. The bodies are actually the player model (Ranger) from the game Quake.
Once you get a Game Over, you get a cut scene of your vehicle exploding, and your license plate spins and falls where the car once was. This is a reference to a scene in "Back to the Future," where Doc is testing out the DeLorean. The license plate even references the scene from the movie by saying "OUTTALIFE" instead of "OUTATIME."
The game started out as a Mad Max game, but was later dropped when no one could find out who owned the rights to Mad Max. It was later turned into an adaptation of Dethrace 2020, the (than planned) sequel to Deathrace 2000, which introduced the running over of pedestrians. Right up until the game shipped, the .exe file was called Deathrace.