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Roger Williamson

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Roger Williamson


Roger Williamson in a racing event wearing a racing jacket.

2 February 1948 (age 25) Ashby-de-la-Zouch, North West Leicestershire, England (

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29 July 1973 (aged 25) Zandvoort, Netherlands

Synd 30 7 73 interview with racing driver david purley regarding the death of roger williamson

Roger Williamson (2 February 1948 – 29 July 1973) was a British racing driver who died during the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands.


The accident at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix that killed Roger Williamson.

F1's Greatest Shame: The Death of Roger Williamson


Police men, Firefighters and paramedics checking the racing car accident that killed Roger Williamson.

Williamson was born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. He won the 1971 and 1972 British Formula 3 Championship titles. In 1973, he was offered a drive in the March Engineering works Formula One team. This was after testing for the BRM team and being advised not to take the drive.


Police men, Firefighters and paramedics checking the racing car accident that killed Roger Williamson.

After his Formula One debut at the 1973 British Grand Prix, Williamson's second Formula One appearance was at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort Circuit. On his eighth lap, a suspected tyre failure caused his car to flip upside down and catch fire. Williamson had not been seriously injured by the impact, but was trapped under the car which was swiftly engulfed in flame. The track marshals were both poorly trained and badly equipped, and did not assist him. Another driver, David Purley, upon witnessing the crash of his friend, abandoned his own race and pulled over in a desperate and valiant attempt to rescue Williamson. He ran across the track to Williamson's car and tried to turn it upright, before grabbing a fire extinguisher from a marshal and returning to the engulfed car. He emptied it on the car and signalled for others to help. Purley's efforts to turn the car upright and extinguish the flames were in vain, and the marshals were unable to handle the vehicle without flame retardant overalls. Purley later stated he could hear Williamson's screams from underneath the car, but by the time the first fire engine arrived and the fire was extinguished, Williamson had died of asphyxiation. As most racers mistakenly identified Purley as the driver of the crashed car, and therefore thought the burning car to be empty, none of them stopped to help and the race continued, even as Purley stood on the circuit and gestured with his hands for them to stop. Furthermore, the track marshals were wearing normal blazers and not the fire-resistant overalls which the drivers wore, and thus were not willing to go near the large flames. Purley was later awarded the George Medal for the bravery he displayed in attempting to rescue Williamson. A series of photos of the incident, showing a clearly desperate and ultimately dejected Purley, won that year's World Press Photo award for Photo Sequences. Williamson's incinerated remains would later be cremated with his ashes being sent to an undisclosed area. In the years following the accident, fire-resistant clothing would become mandatory for all trackside marshals so that they would be able to assist in the event of a fire. The next few years also saw a noticeable increase in drivers stopping at accident sites to assist in rescue efforts, notably at the 1976 German Grand Prix.

The burned wreckage of Roger Williamson's racing vehicle.

In 2003, on the thirtieth anniversary of his fatal crash, a bronze statue of Williamson was unveiled at the Donington Park circuit in his native Leicestershire. Then-owner Tom Wheatcroft had provided financial backing to Williamson, and described the day Williamson died as "the saddest day of my life".

Roger Williamson smiling with English businessman and car collector Tom Wheatcroft while wearing a racing jacket.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

A statue of Roger Williamson in a newspaper page being admired by his sister Barbara Upton and Tom Wheatcroft.


  • Tremayne, David (2000). The science of safety. UK: Haynes Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 1-85960-664-4. 
  • Tremayne, David (1991). Racers Apart: Memories of motorsport heroes. UK: Motor Racing Publications Ltd. p. 293. ISBN 0-947981-58-6. 
  • Tremayne, David (2006). The Lost Generation. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 1-84425-205-1. 
  • References

    Roger Williamson Wikipedia