A Brief History
On July 29, 1973, British race car driver Roger Williamson met his death when his Formula 1race car crashed at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands. The 25 year old 2 time British Formula 3 champion was trapped under his flipped car, not seriously hurt from the crash, but was burned to death as the car was engulfed in flames. We wrote about that crash in our July 29 article, “10 Famous Car Wrecks“. Today we look at another 5 famous/infamous car crashes that you may find interesting.
1. Tiger Woods, November 27, 2009.
The best golfer in the world at the time, and the first golfer to win over a billion dollars in prize money, Woods seemed on top of the world when it was reported he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant, trees and bushes not far from his house. Turned out his wife had confronted him about his marital affairs and may have been hitting him and the car with golf club prior to the wreck. Woods said his wife “helped him from the car” but of course, few people believed that! (Hey, maybe she always goes out at 2:30 am with a golf club in hand….)
2. Tiger Woods, May 29, 2017.
This time, the now divorced Woods, was found asleep in his running Mercedes on the roadway at 3 am, at least 2 tires flat and “fresh” damage to the car. Woods was arrested by the Jupiter, Florida police, but passed a breathalyzer test for alcohol. Woods claimed he was taking a combination of prescription drugs and did not realize the effect they would have on him (even though most of these pain killer type meds clearly state “Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking this drug.” on the package. What did Woods hit and where? Hopefully the owner of whatever property he hit with his Mercedes that night will contact the police and get reimbursed for the damage!
3. Laura (Welch) Bush, November 6, 1963.
The 17 year old future First Lady of the United States (wife of George W. Bush) was driving her father’s 1963 Chevy Impala when she ran a stop sign at around 50 mph, striking a car on the cross street, killing the teenage driver who died of a broken neck. Laura and her passenger had minor injuries. Sadly, the father of the 18 year old victim was driving right behind his son and witnessed the fatal wreck. This author could find no record of Laura being prosecuted for the accident. The Midland, Texas police have refused to release the accident report.
4. Matthew Broderick, August 5, 1987.
This actor, star of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was driving his BMW in Northern Ireland with his girlfriend when he apparently went left of center and struck an oncoming car head on, instantly killing both occupants of the other car. Broderick received injuries including a concussion, broken bones, and a collapsed lung, while his girlfriend had only minor injuries. Broderick was cited for careless driving and fined the equivalent of $175, although his original charges could have netted him 5 years in prison. Must be nice to afford good lawyers!
5. Alfred “Billy” Martin, December 25, 1989.
The 5-time manager of the New York Yankees (1 more time than he was married) and manager of 4 other teams was famous for brawling and arguing as a player and as a manager, and was also famous for being a heavy drinker. On Christmas of 1989 the drinking part caught up to Martin when he handed his keys to his friend, William Reedy, as Martin thought he himself was too drunk to drive. Well, he was also too drunk to realize that Reedy was also drunk, and Reedy skidded the truck off the road and down an embankment, causing Martin (no seatbelt, of course) to be flung through the windshield, killing Martin at the scene, costing baseball the loss of one of its most colorful characters, dead at age 61. Reedy was charged with DUI.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been in a car crash? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Benson, Michael. Crashes and Collisions (Race Car Legends). Chelsea House Pub, 1997.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of the scene of Williamson’s fatal accident as Gijs van Lennep passes, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license. This image is from the Nationaal Archief, the Dutch National Archives, and Spaarnestad Photo.