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1973 Dutch Grand Prix

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Title: 1973 Dutch Grand Prix  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 1973 in Dutch sport, Tom Wheatcroft, Circuit Park Zandvoort, Embassy Hill, John Watson (racing driver)
Collection: 1973 Formula One Races, 1973 in Dutch Sport, Dutch Grand Prix
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1973 Dutch Grand Prix

  1973 Dutch Grand Prix
Race details
Race 10 of 15 in the 1973 Formula One season
Date July 29 1973
Official name XXI Grote Prijs van Nederland
Location Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.18 km (2.6 mi)
Distance 72 laps, 304.27 km (189.06 mi)
Weather Dry
Pole position
Driver Lotus-Ford
Time 1:19.47
Fastest lap
Driver Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford
Time 1:20.31
Podium
First Tyrrell-Ford
Second Tyrrell-Ford
Third March-Ford

The 1973 Dutch Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Zandvoort on July 29, 1973. Zandvoort returned to the Formula 1 calendar following a year's absence for extensive safety upgrades to the race track including new asphalt, new barriers and a new race control tower. Jackie Stewart won the race, this Grand Prix being fourth of five wins for Stewart during the 1973 Formula One season, and he became the most successful Formula One driver of all time with his 26th Grand Prix victory, surpassing Jim Clark's record of 25 victories.

Driver Roger Williamson was killed in the race; this was the first of two driver fatalities in the 1973 season. François Cevert, who took the podium in second place at this race, would later perish during practice for the 1973 United States Grand Prix.

Death of Roger Williamson

The burned wreckage of Roger Williamson's March 731.
Williamson's fatal accident.

On the 8th lap of the race through the high speed esses near the Tunnel Oost (East Tunnel) right-hand corner, a suspected tyre failure caused Williamson's car to pitch into the barriers at high speed, and be catapulted 300 yards (275 m) across the track, eventually coming to rest upside down against the barriers on the other side. The petrol tank had ignited whilst being scraped along the track, and the car caught fire. Williamson had not been seriously injured by the impact, but was trapped in the car. The race was not stopped and continued with a local yellow at the scene, a fact which would become significant over the next few minutes.

Fellow driver David Purley, who witnessed Williamson's impact, almost immediately pulled his car over on the opposite side of the track, then ran across the live racetrack to assist him. Williamson was heard shouting to Purley to get him out of the car as Purley tried in vain to turn the car upright. 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, who were not wearing flame retardant overalls, were unable to help due to the intense heat.

Race control assumed that it was Purley's car that had crashed and that the driver had escaped unharmed. Many drivers who saw Purley waving them down to stop assumed that he was trying to put a fire out from his own car, having safely exited it, and thus did not know that a second driver had been involved. As a result the race continued at full pace while Purley desperately tried to save the life of Williamson.

There was only a single fire extinguisher in the area, and it was not enough to put out the fire. With 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 assist Williamson, but were pushed back by track security staff with dogs.

With the race still on, it took some eight minutes for a fire truck to completely travel around the circuit with the flow of race traffic. 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

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