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Salt Walther; survived fiery crash at Indy

The racer’s car disintegrated at the start of the Indianapolis 500, leaving his legs exposed.

Charles A. Robinson/Associated Press

The racer’s car disintegrated at the start of the Indianapolis 500, leaving his legs exposed.

TROTWOOD, Ohio — David ‘‘Salt’’ Walther, the former auto and hydroplane racer who was severely burned in a spectacular crash in the 1973 Indianapolis 500, has died. He was 65.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office confirmed the death last Friday, saying Mr. Walther was reported dead Dec. 27 and that the cause of death had not been determined.



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Mr. Walther also drove briefly in NASCAR, finishing 12th in the 1976 Daytona 500.

At the start of the 1973 Indy 500, Mr. Walther’s car pinwheeled down the track, his legs sticking out of his torn up racer, after touching wheels with Jerry Grant and slamming into the catch-fencing in a fiery crash near the starting line.

Blinded by the fireball that spread across the front straightaway, several other drivers slammed into Mr. Walther’s car.

He was badly burned on about 60 percent of his body and suffered several broken bones.

Twice he was given last rites, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Mr. Walther, a native of Dayton, fought an addiction to painkillers after the accident and spent time in prison. He was arrested in Dayton last month in a case dating to 2007.

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