Donald Charles MacTavish (August 22, 1940 – February 22, 1969) started his racing career at the age of 15 racing in nearby Norwood, Massachusetts at the Norwood Arena. He quickly earned popularity for driving demolition derby cars, and appeared on ABC's Wide World of Sports. He competed in more than 100 Sportsman Car Series races on the East Coast. In 1963 he progressed to NASCAR's Sportsman Division and in 1966 he won the NASCAR National Sportsman Division Championship, a precursor to today's Xfinity Series, by beating out Ralph Earnhardt among others.
|Born||Donald Charles MacTavish|
August 22, 1940
Dover, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||February 22, 1969 (aged 28)|
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Injuries from racing accident|
|Achievements||1966 NASCAR National Sportsman Series Champion|
|Awards||2001 New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame inductee|
In the late 1960s, MacTavish set his sights on competing in NASCAR's top series, the Grand National Series. On February 22, 1969, MacTavish made his debut at the Daytona International Speedway, driving the No. 5 1966 Mercury Comet in the NASCAR Sportsman Division's Permatex 300. On lap nine of the race, his vehicle tangled with a car 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 from the wreck. The Mercury then spun around and wound up facing oncoming cars in the middle of the track surface, with MacTavish completely exposed in the driver's seat. It was then struck by Sam Sommers, who was unable to see MacTavish's car due to smoke and flying debris from the accident. This second impact sent his car bouncing into the grass on the inside of the track. MacTavish was pronounced dead at the spot of the accident.
Three months after his death, the first annual 100-lap "Don MacTavish Memorial Race" was organized at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Race-winner Richie Evans was presented the winner's trophy by Mrs. Dorothy MacTavish and Miss Marcia MacTavish, mother and sister of the late driver for whom the event was named.
Each year, the American Canadian Tour racing series awards one driver with the prestigious MacTavish Award at their annual year-end Banquet of Champions. The award is given for outstanding contribution in the field of stock car racing and named in honor of MacTavish for his contributions to New England racing. Past recipients of the award have included Bill France, Sr. (1969) and Ken Squier (1972).
In 2001, MacTavish was posthumously inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame.
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