For New England racers of a certain age, there is no name that carries more emotion than Don MacTavish.
There certainly has been no more horrific moment & image than that of Don MacTavish's demise.
And, there is a horrible unfairness that this superb driver & fine man is remembered so vividly for his ghastly death, than for his storied career, wonderful life & for the joy he imparted.
From MS Memorial - "Don MacTavish started his career at the age of 15 [17? vg] racing at Norwood, quickly gaining popularity for driving demo derby cars, appearing also on ABC-TVís Wide World of Sports. He competed in more than 100 Sportsman cars races on the East Coast. In 1963 he progressed to NASCARís Sportsman Division and in 1966 he won the NASCAR National Sportsman Championship, his closest competitors being Ralph Earnhardt, "Wild" Bill Slater and Rene Charland among others.
On 22 February 1969 MacTavish made his debut at the Daytona International Speedway, driving the number 5 1966 Mercury Comet in the Permatex 300 support Sportsman race. During this race his vehicle tangled with car number 68, driven by Bob James. Out of control, MacTavish's car hit the outside crash wall at a point where a metal guard rail covered an opening in the wall. The impact with the butt end of the concrete sheared off the whole front of the car, up to the firewall; its engine was thrown 100 feet [33 meters] from the wreck. The Mercury then spun around and wound up facing oncoming cars in the middle of the track surface, with poor MacTavish exposed. It was then struck by the Sam Sommers, who was driving car number 27; at the speed the cars were travelig, it would have been impossible for Sommers to avoid contact. This second impact sent MacTavish's car bouncing into the grass on the inside of the track. MacTavish was killed at the spot.
Three months after his death the first annual 100-lap "Don MacTavish Memorial Race" was organized at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Richie Evans who won the race from Jerry Cook, second and Rene Charland, third, were presented the winner's trophy by Mrs. Dorothy Mac Tavish and Miss Marcia MacTavish mother and sister of the late driver for whom the event was named.