On this day in history, racer Don Williams passed away after being in a coma for over 10-years.
Don Williams was an American stock car driver born in Madison, Florida. Williams raced in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division which is now known as the Nationwide Series. He was injured in a fiery eight-car crash in the Sportsman 300 race at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 1979 and lived in a semi-comatose state for ten years before his death
41-year old Don Williams was driving the #68 Chevy Camaro in the Sportsman 300 at Daytona International Speedway on 17 February 1979. During the fourth lap he was involved in a eight car pileup in turn two. His Camaro was struck by three cars at full speed on driver side door as it spun and bounced around.
The crash began when a car driven by Freddie Smith went into a spin and was struck by a car driven by Joe Frasson, which then burst into flames as he hit the wall. Fresson was then struck at full speed by Delma Cowart. Williams was behind Cowart and tried to avoid the pileup but was pinned against the wall by two other cars. His car then spun onto the infield amid a shower of flying debris.
The other vehicles involved were legendary Busch series drivers Jack Ingram (#94) and Red Farmer (#31). Also involved in the dramatic melee was the #43 of Freddie Smith, #50 of Joe Frasson, #09 of Delma Cowart, #96 of Dennis Bennett, and the #4 of Buddy Byles.
In the crash Williams suffered head and chest injuries as well as a fractured right arm and an aneurysm in the right eye which caused him to fall into a semi-comatose state. He remained three months in Halifax hospital and then transferred to a hospital in Madison, Florida, where he resided. Later he was released to stay at his parents home where he received around the clock medical attentions. He remained in this state for more than ten years until his death on 21 May 1989.
Don Williams was an experienced driver in short tracks, but was in one of his first races in super speedways.