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Roger Williamson fire, Zandvort, 29th July 1973

Partialy from Planet-cutie.co.uk

A Pictorial Record From Film And TV Footage

Roger Williamson, driving a March 731 in his second Formula One race, at Dutch GP Zandvoort circuit, suffers tire, front suspension or steering problems on the bump at Tunnel Oost. He crashes into a barrier, then was thrown high up into the air, lands back on the road upside down and slides across the track, rupturing a fuel tank in the process...

Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
After Graham Hill (Shadow DN1) goes past, David Purley ditches his March 731 and runs across the track.
He skips over some accident debris and runs to Williamson
(Note the point of impact from Williamson's car on the track)
Another car is passing by
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Purley urgently gestures to the marshals to come and help
He tries to right Williamson's car.
But sadly, it's beyond his strength alone.
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
A marshal arrives at the scene with a fire extinguisher. Purley snatches it from him
Purley struggles to get the extinguisher to work.
Finally he manages to get it working
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Purley sprays it all around the car, while a marshal kicks sand on to the fire.
With little success, and the extinguisher runs out.
Another car is passing by
Purley throws his hands up in despair and begs for help.
And another car is passing by
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
None is forthcoming
Two more cars are passing by
A marshal gingerly leads Purley away from the scene, and is angrily shrugged off.
Utterly dejected, Purley walks to the other side of the track
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Someone offers him commiseration, but he doesn't want to hear it.
A frustrated Purley walks up and down wondering what to do next.
Another car is passing by
Ronnie Peterson (Lotus 72) blasts past the accident scene without lifting or changing his line.
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert (both Tyrrell 006) are more circumspect. Purley waves to try and get them to stop. They don't.
The track's fire engine finally arrives, having done a very slow lap of the circuit.
And another car is passing by
The firemen finally get to work.
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial
Several seconds later, the fire is put out, while the distraught Purley (3rd from left) watches
Williamson's car is put back on its wheels. Purley now knows for certain the driver is dead.
A blanket is thrown over the burnt out wreck with Williamson still inside, and the race carries on.
Another two cars are passing by
Roger Williamson crash pictorial Roger Williamson crash pictorial  
Jackie Stewart pulls into the pits after taking the chequered flag. Manager Ken Tyrrell informs him of Williamson's dead. I wonder if he is suprised! No lap of honour. Quiet presentation".
The podium ceremony. Cevert (left) and Stewart (centre) are clearly muted, while 3rd placed James Hunt (right) is clearly distressed, but anyway, they didn't stop to help David Purley!
 


A fire began to take hold and Williamson was unable to extricate himself. Fellow driver and friend David Purley, although not a teammate of Williamson's, abandoned his own race in a desperate and valiant attempt to rescue him. Williamson had not been seriously injured by the impact, and was heard shouting to Purley to get him out of the car as Purley tried in vain to turn the car upright.

The fire marshals stationed at the corner where the accident occurred were both poorly trained and badly equipped, and it was left to Purley to snatch the sole fire extinguisher and attempt to put out the fire. The marshals, who were not wearing flame retardant overalls, stood by as Purley tackled the fire, awaiting the arrival of the fire truck, which had to navigate across the track while the race was still in progress. There appeared to have been ample time to right the car and pull Williamson out, but as desperately as he tried, Purley was unable to do it by himself, and the marshals, in shirts and jackets, were unable to help due to the intense heat. With the fire extinguisher emptied and the car still burning upside-down, the situation became hopeless, and the distraught Purley was led away by a marshal. Some spectators, appalled at Williamson's plight, tried to breach the safety fences in order to help Purley, but were pushed back by track security staff with dogs. It was some eight minutes before the first fire truck arrived on the scene. By the time the car was eventually righted, and the fire extinguished, Williamson had died of asphyxiation.

A blanket was thrown over the burnt-out wreck with Williamson still inside, and the race carried on.

Photographs taken by Cor Mooij of the reaction of David Purley were awarded the World Press Photo for sports in 1974. Purley was awarded the George Medal for his actions in trying to save Williamson. In 2003, on the 30th anniversary of his fatal crash, a bronze statue of Roger Williamson was unveiled at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire, England. Then-owner Tom Wheatcroft had provided financial backing to Williamson, and described the day Williamson died as "the saddest day of my life".

 

 

 

David Purley Photos/Biography

Roger Williamson Tribute Page

 

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Some useful links:

Technical
- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

Autosport
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James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4mula1
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4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

FIA
 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

Wikipedia
 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

Carbibles
 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.