"... given a five percent chance to live. Twice he was given last rites."
December 29, 2012 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Salt Walther died Thursday night, Dec. 27., at a residence in Trotwood, OH. The cause of death, as of now, is unknown. On May 30, 1973, he survived a crash that no one thought could be survived. His life was changed forever. (YT: warning: carnage, no fatalities)

The 1973 Indianapolis 500 was considered to be one of the worst. What could go wrong did go wrong. Three men died. Art Pollard died during the time trials. Swede Savage crashed on lap 58. He died 33 days later. Armando Moreno Teran, a pit crew member, was hit and killed by a fire truck.

David "Salt" Walther, suffered burns over half his body, broken ribs, broken knees, broken elbows, and broken hands. Some of the fingers of his left hand were burned almost completely off. When his car came to rest, upside down, on fire, and with both his feet protruding from the front of the car, no one thought he would live. He lived, but at a costly price.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 5:06 PM on December 29, 2012

I'd never heard of this guy, but wow, what a sad story in the last link.

posted by desjardins at 5:29 PM on December 29, 2012

This is the first 500 I remember. AJ Foyt has always been a dick.
posted by donpardo at 5:35 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was in turn four when Gorden Smiley died, they cleared the track and continued qualifing.
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 5:59 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by drezdn at 6:29 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by evoque at 7:21 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by procrastination at 7:25 PM on December 29, 2012

The crash was insane, but I can't get over all the people running all over the track at the beginning of the race.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:28 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by eriko at 7:56 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by bibliogrrl at 8:38 PM on December 29, 2012

posted by Smart Dalek at 8:41 PM on December 29, 2012


a hard life, no doubt defined by pain for the past almost 40 years. I remember watching that race live -- what little race there was. The first lap crash was followed by hard rain. They finally got it running two days later only to have everything go to hell with Swede Savage's accident -- and hell is the word. [WARNING: graphic]

I was watching that one, too. 14 years old, big motor racing fan. But that Indy was definitely the beginning of the end ... for more than fifteen years anyway. It was a far safer sport by the late 80s when I got interested again.
posted by philip-random at 8:55 PM on December 29, 2012

Yeah, I was 10 years old when that happened,watching live. That and the Swede Savage accident still trigger bad memories...
posted by Windopaene at 10:33 PM on December 29, 2012

The last link is good writing.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by pjern at 2:41 AM on December 30, 2012

The 70's were a crazy time for the 500. The technology for squeezing more and more speed from the cars was seriously eclipsing safety technology, with obvious results.

I sat through those soggy days in '73 at the Speedway. Not a fun time.

posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on December 30, 2012


You can't really say, "There but for the grace of God go I," because there was never any chance that I personally was going to be a race car driver. But a similar sentiment applies - I, and pretty well everyone I know, are very lucky compared to this poor man.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I caught the end of an TV interview with Walther in the late 1980's. He had the remains of the wrecked chassis chained above his living room couch. Talk about carrying the past with you.

I'm not judging him, but I remember thinking at the time "For God's sake get rid of that thing before it puts you in your grave." Felt even sorrier for him then than when the accident happened.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2012

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