Roger WILLIAMSON /GB/
Born : 02.02.1948
Died : 29.07.1973
Active years : 1973
GP started : 2
Driver's career :

"After Roger it weren 't fair on any driver because he was so superior, nobody could take his place in my heart. He asked me for nothing in life."- Tom Wheatcroft

Heroes and cowards

Roger Williamson was a brilliant talent. Even then, in only his second year of serious racing in the big league after seasons in karts, Minis and terrorizing the British club scene in his famous Ford Anglia, that much was obvious.
He didn't want money or fame. All he asked of life was the chance to race cars with Tom Wheatcroft. Those craven marshals who plunged Dutch motorsport to such disgusting depths that day in July 1973 denied him even that simple wish.

Roger Williamson was from Barkby Road, Leicester. At eight, Roger first drove in public a miniature stock car at Leicester Stadium during a speedway meeting. Four year later he had his first kart and gained his experience driving it in field off Narborourgh Road South, Breunstone.

Two years later at 14 he was old enough to start racing. In four years he progressed from junior kart to the top class and at one time in 1966 he was checked doing 114 m.p.h at Alton Parkm at that time the fastet speed a kart had ever been know travel. During this period he won 125 trophies and his last season he finished Class 4 champion of Britain. Class 4 was for karts fitted with 200 c.c engines and fourspeed gearbox.
Roger as "pusher" right
1967 he switched to Mini racing and with friend Chris Randell prepared an 850 saloon. During the season he had 18 races which resulted in 14 wins, he held six track records, icluding both long and short circuits at Malory. 1968 was very much down after his F3 racing car caught fire. He was back at Snetterton with 1300 c.c. Mini which has been loaned to him for rest of the season.
1968 Roger was very much down after his Formula 3 racing car caught fire. Changed to a Ford Anglia and had a win, two 2nds and a 3rd at Mallory Park. He also tried a Cooper T72 but crashed and destroyed the car at Cadwell Park
16 Feb. 1968 : His father, Dodge Williamson, a former speedway rider, built Roger's first car which was powered by a lawn mower engine. This he used to drive around the, garden when he was four. This is a far cry from the eight-year-old boy who drove round Leicester Stadium in a miniature stock car. It will be a testing season for him for if he can make the grade thenundoubtedly his sights must be on Formula 2 and eventually Formula 1. During the season /1967/ he held six track records, including both long and short circuits at Mallory, which he still holds, and at the end of the season he was awarded the John Aley 850 Championship for gaining most points during the season in the East Midlands area.
1969 - further success came with the Anglia, winning at Mallory Park (four times) and Thruxton once, plus two 2nds at Brands Hatch, 2nd at Silverstone and 3rd at Snetterton, Castle Combe and Mallory Park.
1970 - became the Hepolite Glacier Special Saloon Car Champion with his Anglia.
He had three wins and a 3rd at Oulton Park, two wins at Malory Park, three wins and a 2nd at Brands Hatch, two wins at Castle Combe, a win and 2nd at Mondello Park and wins at Crystal Palace and Thruxton.

Roger Williamson, Jody Scheckter and James Hunt

Donington Collection
Donington Park

Roger Williamson at Brands Hatch in his 713M

Lotuses in a March sandwich, Roger Williamson leads Claude Bourgoignie, Dave Walker and James Hunt.
A very close run thing, Williamson gets his March
to the flag. Brands Hatch
Despite this brake locking moment at the chicane early in the race Roger Williamson drove superbly. Thruxton
Roger Williams (March 713) and François Migault (Martini MW7) during their battle for fifth. Thruxton
Roger Williamson's March cruising to an easy victory in the Petonyer Trophy
Roger Williamson debuted the new March 723. Brands Hatch
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Roger's transporter
1971 - stepped into F3 with a March 713M and was immediately successful, taking the Lombard Championship /90 points/and finishing runner-up In the Shell series /56 points/. He won at Brands Hatch (four times), Crystal Palace. Thruxton. Oulton Park and Crystal Palace. He added four 2nds at Mallory Park. 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th al Thruxton, two 2nds, a 3rd and two 5ths at Brands Hatch, 2nd and 5th at Silverstone and 2nd at Croft. Crystal Palace and Snetterton. He finished 3rd at Cadwell Park and in the Empire Trophy, 4th at the British Grand Prix meeting and Paul Ricard and 71h at Monaco.

He also partnered Steve Thompson in the British Team to 5th in the F3 European Cup. And had his talent recognised in the Grovewood Awards at the end of the year. Williamson , who rocketed into international prominence through winning 14 races in onlu his first season of single seat racing. He received award B.P. Man of 1971, Grovewood Award and Driver of the Year from British Racing and Sports Car Club.
Results from F3 GB 1971 with many photos of Roger Williamson. Championship tables 1971

12 Nov 1971 : Williamson, who rocketed into international prominence through winning 14 races in only his first season of single seat racing, was presented with a Dexter Brown oil painting of himself in his March car, by the Honourable Gerald Lascelles, President of the . British Racing Drivers' Club and a cousin of the Queen.
Earlier this month, Williamson, who is 23, received Ł1,000 as the top Grovewood Award winner, being the country's most promising young driver.
During an outstanding season, the Leicester man, who works in his father's garage, has won- the Lombank championship and finished second in both the Shell Motor Sport and Forward Trust Formula Three series.
Tonight he receives a third award - this time as the Midland Driver of the Year - from the British Racing and Sports Car Club.
1972 - British F3: Won Forward Trust Championship (50 points) and ShellChampionship (78 points), double F3 Champion in the Forward Trust and Shells Oils Championships, starting the year with his March, before changing to a GRD. He had wins at Oulton Park (twice), Cadwell Park (twice) Thruxton (twice) and at Silverstone, La Chatre, and Anderstorp. Clermont Ferrand, Mallory Park, Snetterton and in the British Grand Prix support race. He finished 2nd and 4th at Brands Hatch, took two 4ths at Mallory Park, 3rd and 5th at Silverstone, 2nd at Snetterton and Zandvoort. 4th at Thruxton and 5th at Crystal Palace.

His other results included 6th in a Brands Hatch Formula Atlantic race in a GRD, 7th at Oulton Park in F2 with a March 722 and 7th at Oulton Park in F5000 in a Kitchmac. These are made by the British Racing Drivers Club, and Willaimson gets his for being the best British driver, and Tom Wheatcorft as the most successfull British private entrant.
Results from F3 GB 1972 with many photos of Roger Williamson. Championship tables 1972

1972 F3 Champion, Roger Williamson
Roger Williamson powers his GRD on to another impressively easy victory. Brands Hatch

Williamson's GRD heads.

Roger Williamson and Tony Brise. La Charte
One-two on the track, one two in the race, Roger Williamson leads Mike Walker (Ensign). Thruxton
 
Roger Williamson flies his GRD over the Mountain. Cadwell Park.
The GRD of Roger Williamson leads the Ensign of Mike Walker. Anderstorp
Patrick Depailler's Alpine heads Roger Williamson. Thruxton
Roger Williamson leads Jacques Coulon, José Dolhem and Claudio Francisci during the second heat. Monaco
The heat one battle for the lead, Pryce leads Walker and Williamson. Zandvoort
They don't come any closer than this, the two GRDs cross the line with Williamson on the right just getting the verdict over Brise to the left. Snetterton
 
 
Castle with Hunt No.8
 

A few races in GRD 273 Hockenheim

Hockenheim

Mallory Park

Rouen

 

Misano ?

Donington
Donington

Mallory Park

 

1973 - F2: after a few early season F3 races he started racing in F2 with a Wheatcroft-backed GRD 273, before changing to a March 732. He won the Monza Lotteria and took 7th at Pau, 8th at Thruxton, 9th at Mallory Park and 11th at the Nurburgring /results/

Last win at Monza

After winning a dramatic Monza, Roger easily ledat Misano Adriatico until electrical failure
Roger's last win in Monza: 3 Roger and 9 V.Brambilla
1973
F 1
In February 1973, Louis Stanley asked Roger Williamson to help BRM with their test programme under the premise that team leader Clay Regazzoni couldn't make it. This was no more than a smokescreen in order to evalute Roger at close quarters...
Roger was firstly sent out in a P180 and, in spite of the cold weather, equalled the lap record before an upright broke. Not bad for his first run in an F1 car, and the BRM management were understandably excited so they then strapped him in a P160. He lapped consistantly below the lap record in that chassis, on various sets of tyres.
Williamson was duly offered a contract (to take what became Lauda's drive) which was vetoed by his mentor Tom Wheatcroft, who wanted him in a Cosworth-powered team. As we all know, a deal with March was done mid-season which saw Britain's hottest up-and-comer in as stand-in for when Jarier was busy winning the F2 title. However, a Tyrrell contract was also being discussed for 1974, which would also have seen Roger in the third car for Canada and Watkins Glen at the end of 1973. Ultimately that contract was never signed, as Williamson and Wheatcrof had decided to run their own McLaren M23 for 1974, such was the loyalty between the pair. Remembering these things amplifies the tragedy of what happened in Holland all the more..

1973 GP British GP, Silverstone: he made his Grand Prix debut with the car in the British GP at Silverstone. After qualifying 22nd he only completed a lap before being caught up in Jody Scheckter's famous crash. Scheckter slewed across the track in his Yardley McLaren after a puncture, and several cars ploughed into him.
Roger Williamson : It all happened so fast," said Williamson. "I turned into Woodcote, saw all the dust flying about I and got on brakes, but everything was cold because it was only the first lap. I started to slide towards the dust and I was aiming for the pit wall, thinking there wouldn't be any cars about there. But I had to swerve to miss the back of one car, then there was another one and nowhere for me to go. I took off, hit Jody Schekter's car, then the pit wall and ended under the bridge. All the drivers were just glad there was no fire because we all had full tanks, of course."
Williamson hopes that the car can be rebuilt in time for the Dutch Grand Prix, in a fortnight's time, but much depend on the availability of spares.

 
 
   

1973 GP Dutch GP, Zandvoort: tragically in the next race, the Dutch at Zandvoort, he crashed and died needlessly as the marshals failed to control what started as a minor fire..

At Zandvoort Roger was killed. He and David Purley were running their similar March 731Gs in close company when the left front tyre on Roger's car exploded on their eighth lap at the section of the track where Piers Courage had crashed three years earlier. They had just negotiated the left-right flick called Hondenvlak and were in the first of two fast fifth-gear right-handers when the incident occurred. The March struck the outer guardrail, the supports of which, incredibly, had only been set in the soft sand that is such a feature of the seaside track. It bent back with the weight of the car, before flipping it back on to the track, where it landed upside-down, right on the apex of the second right-hander. The left-hand fuel tank had been damaged, and a small fire started.
Purley immediately stopped his car and abandoned his own race in a selfless act of heroism harrowingly captured on BBC television.
Only yards away stood a fire tender, but no order was given to stop the race and its driver refused, perhaps rightly, to drive against the direction of the traffic. Worse, marshals with fire extinguishers merely watched as Purley fought a lone battle to right the upturned March. He could hear Williamson inside it. Roger pleaded with him to get him out. Time and again Purley tried to lift the car, but each time he failed. For two laps - at least 2m 47s -the fire was minimal, but then it grew dramatically in intensity. David tried to fight it after grabbing an extinguisher from one marshal, but by then the fire had too strong a hold.
As the marshals still remained immobile, appalled spectators began to try and help, unable to believe what they were seeing. Only then were marshals with police dogs galvanized into action, to keep them back. Finally, in the most callous act of cowardice ever seen in motor racing, they moved at last and tried to drag the desolate Purley away. He shrugged them off angrily.
Roger was uninjured in the cockpit, but they left him to die of asphyxiation. When they finally arrived, the fire trucks were far, far too late.

David Purley : Through his tears he said, "I just couldn't turn it over. I could see he was alive and I could hear him shouting, but I couldn't get the car over. I was trying to get people to help me, and if I could have turned the car over he would have been alright, we could have got him out."
Later, when the immediate grief had receded, he admitted, "I didn't even think about the heroism or any of that rubbish. I just did what comes naturally to a trained soldier who sees a fellow in trouble."

Denny Hulme / Autosport : One of the problems may have been that the drivers were unaware of the seriousness of the accident; I certainly never knew that anyone was still in the burning car until after I had retired in the pits. When I came past the first time I saw the car on fire and David Purley brushing flames off himself and my initial reaction was that he had crashed and had managed to get out of the car OK, but when he was still there struggling two laps later I started to wonder. It never occurred to me that it was his car stopped on the other side of the road. I just presumed that there had been a two-car accident and that David had climbed out of the burning car, Initially the fire was small and the flame was low, blowing sideways as though a petrol line had severed and with the pump still on it was feeding flame out sideways like an acetylene torch. If Purley had had assistance as soon as he arrived, Roger could probably have been rescued. As it turned out, it was a complete disaster. The first truck took some eight minutes to arrive after driving round most of the track while the other truck stood 150 yards away and did nothing. I simply fail to understand it.
The Clerk of the Course at Zandvoort should have stopped the race as soon as he realised the seriousness of the crash. There was a fire tender standing 150 yards beyond the burning car, but it didn't move because the driver apparently had instructions not to drive the wrong way round the track. So a driver died. Full text from Autosport

Ian Philips - journalist and friend : "Purley actually had a conversation with him. David was hying to turn him over and told me afterwards how Roger had said to him, For God's sake, David, get me out of here', and he just couldn't get him out. The circumstances were just appalling. Berger's thing at Imola in 1989 proved just how much things have changed over the years.

2 Aug 1973 : The technical report on the fatal crash of Leicester racing driver Roger Williamson in last month's Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, received by his sponsor, Mr. Tom Wheatcroft, today, showed that Williamson was blamless in the accident.
The report was prepared by Mr. J. Ryshouwer, of The Hague, who is an official delegate and member of the International Technical Commission of the Federation Internationale Automobile.
It states that the cause was deflation of a left hand tyre causing the car to go straight on at a right hand bend, hitting the Armco barrier at about 140 miles an hour.
The barrier had been erected incorrectly which created a springboard for the March car to go into the air and turn over.
Roger Williamson had set off the car's fire extinguisher after the crash. It was found that the throttle was jammed wide open. The death certificate showed that death was due to inhalation of hot gases.
Mr. Wheatcroft commented that the report confirmed all that he and racing car constructors had felt after the accident. "I am not surprised that the throttle was was stuck open, as this is a fast bend, taken flat out in fourth gear," he said.
He added that if the marshal had been of the right moral fibre, it was likely that they could, have saved Roger Williamson from the overturned car before the fire gained control.
18 Dec 1973 : Racing driver David Purley, who made a courageous effort to save his friend, Leicester driver, Roger Williamson from his blazing overturned car in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zand-voort, has been awarded the George Medal, the highest civilian award for bravery.
During the Grand Prix Williamson's March car crashed, trapping the 25-year-old Leicester man. Millions of television viewers saw Purley stop his own car and try to right Williamson's, as well as grabbing a fire extinguisher and directing foam into the blazing car. But the effort was in vain and Williamson died.
There was criticism that the rnarshalls stood by while Purley frantically worked to try and release his fellow driver, and also that the fire tenders took eight minutes to get to the scene.
Purley, son of Mr. Charles Purley, millionaire head of LEC Refrigeration, has received no less than 16 awards from various international organisations for his heroism.

 
 
 
 
 
A statue of Roger Williamson has been unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.
Donington owner Tom Wheatcroft, who sponsored Williamson throughout his career, revealed the tribute 30 years to the day after the 25-year-old was killed at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix.
Williamson's sister Barbara Upton attended the ceremony at the Leicestershire circuit.
SADDEST DAY OF MY LIFE - TOM WHEATCROFT

BY GEORGE DRYDEN


Tom Wheatcroft regards the day that Roger Williamson died as "the saddest day of my life".

The 80-year-old Donington Park owner, who provided moral and financial support to Williamson during his career, said that the driver was "like a son". And he explained that the day Williamson died had been "so strange" with an occurrence of number 13s.

"The day he died was so strange, just lots of little things," said Wheatcroft.

"The car should have been number 13, but it was changed at the last minute, the race was 13 minutes late starting and when he crashed, he was in 13th position.

"He was like a son to me - such a big part of my life.

"It was the saddest day of my life, but I have so many good memories of him.

"He was a wonderful fellow in every way - his character, integrity, honesty and determination. He never asked me for anything and we never argued. After that, I tried to work with two other drivers, but I couldn't replace him. There will never be anyone like him, either as a friend or a driver."

Wheatcroft remembers: "I first met Roger driving a Ford Anglia at Mallory Park. I thought what a marvellous effort he was making as he went round the track.

"I was going to offer to help him with any equipment, but he had a few friends around him and had people queuing up for autographs, so I didn't butt in.

"Then I saw him at Monte Carlo. He had a poor engine and the smoke was pouring out, but he still kept passing the cars.

"I went and found him afterwards. He was sitting there with the engine out on the pavement, trying to mend it.

"I said 'Oh, no, lad, that won't do', so I found out the engine supplier and bought him a new engine.

"I never really expected to see him again, but a while later, I was just about to go to bed and there he was on my doorstep, covered in grease because he'd been working on his car. He gave me two tickets to Silverstone to say thank you.

"I got him sorted out after that with equipment and sponsorships and I went to every race in his career after that, except one.

"He had an offer to go on Tyrrell's team, and I'd got the contract all sorted for him when he just turned to me and said he wanted to stay with me."

Taken from:
next about Roger



Other pages about Roger Williamson: Matthew Lawrenson 1, 2 , 8w.forix.com, Forix
BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/3108383.stm

Atllas F1 Bulletin Board http://forums.atlasf1.com/showthread.php?postid=1359710#post1359710
Atllas F1 Bulletin Board
http://forums.atlasf1.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=66634
Purley Williamson Memorial Foundation http://www.purley-williamson.net
www.planet-cu
tie.co.uk Roger Williamson http://www.planet-cutie.co.uk/zandvoort/
8Wforix.com http://8w.forix.com/nl73-july29.html
Atllas F1 Bulletin Board http://forums.atlasf1.com/showthread.php?s=c04830a61a0a5efed95e7cbaf87769.....
The book "Racers Apart" by David Tremayne (published by PSL?, circa 1991) has a great chapter on Williamson and many other heroes, sung and unsung.

The new book from david Tremayne

Memories of fans:
I will tell of another unknown test Roger did. In 1973 He tested the Trojan T101 that Jody Scheckter was to drive in the coming L&M Series in the States. Tom Wheatcroft had brought him to Silverstone to try the car. Tom treated Roger like a son. To say Roger drove the car beautifully would be an under statement. Sid Taylor told Tom we could run a second car for Roger if they wished. I wish they would have come to the states with us. Instead they decided to go to Formula One. Much to the loss of the racing world.
Around that time - three weeks later, in fact - I attended the F5000 race there with Steve Thompson's father and future father-in-law. As we waited to drive over the track and into the paddock, Roger and his father 'Dodge' wandered over to the NSU Ro80 we were in and chatted through the front passenger window. The previous January at the Racing Car Show (at Ally Pally?), I'd spent something like fifteen minutes talking to Roger (remember, he was pretty much the coming-man for British motorsport at the time) who was just brilliant with myself and my pal by signing our autograph books and the like...
The interview with Ben Huisman in English
The interview with Herman Brammer in English
Chronology of Sunday 29th of July 1973 from interviews with Ben Huisman, race director Zandvoort Grand Prix in 1973, Herman Brammer, track official Post #10 and Gijs van Lennep, driver at the Grand Prix at Zandvoort in 1973.
Many thanks for Ed Kiers from Holland for translating the interviews edkiers2002@hotmail.com

Chosen Charity of The Wheatcroft Family - Hope Against Cancer
In memory of: Tom Wheatcroft

Photos taken from Forix, Motor Racing Retro, Danny, Marchives.com, Carlos Ghys, David Beard, Stuart Dent , www.f3classic.co.uk, Rob Ryder, tbk.fameflame.dk, Atlas F1 Forum: The Nostalgia Forum, me and unknown. Many thanks for infos about Roger to HOME
I have the approval for photos from Rob Ryder, David Bears http://www.dabgp.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/index.html , Carlos Ghys http://home.scarlet.be/%7Emathiasg/rechts.htm , Gerald Swan http://www.f3history.co.uk/, Cor Mooij Sportphotography http://www.artinsport.nl/
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