January 12, 1980: Tim Williamson died at Riverside. The 23 year-old was one of NASCAR's most promising stars on the verge of his Cup career. The last 40 years in racing may have been different had he lived, here's a thread to know more about him

From Seaside, California, Tim Williamson began his racing career in gokarts, winning several national events. This picture from 1971 shows Williamson finishing 2nd to Ricky Rudd in a national race. Future Rolex 24 winner Mark Dismore is 4th.
Williamson moved up from karts to race at Watsonville Speedway, the .25 mile dirt track in Central California.

"I drove in what was called the limited sportsman class," Tim said in 1979, "cut down station wagons with a wing on the back."
22 year-old Williamson made his West Series debut at Stockton in April 1978. He won the pole and led all but one lap. Williamson won, beating a field that included Bobby Allison. It was said that his car didn't meet NASCAR rules but was allowed to race anyway.
Tim Williamson's cars were built by his brother Chuck, just 3 years older than him.

"If you ever heard us argue, you might not think we're brothers," Tim said. "A couple of our friends call us the brawlin brothers but we get the job done."
In addition to the West series, Williamson also competed in NASCAR's Grand American series, a west coast series for Modified Late Model cars like Camaros and Mustangs. Between 1978 and 1979, Tim won 3 races in the series; 1 at Ontario and 2 at Riverside.
Williamson's 1979 rookie season in West was very successful, including a win at Roseville. A rookie had never won the West championship before but Tim had the points lead in September before a bad race at Ascot allowed Bill Schmitt to overtake him.
Williamson entered the last race of the season 12 points behind Schmitt. In a race at Phoenix invaded by Cup regulars, Neil Bonnett won, Bobby Allison wasn 2nd, Richard Petty 3rd, and Williamson 4th. He finished 2nd in points by just 5 points and won rookie of the year.
For 1980, Tim planned a jump to Cup. It was reported he signed a contract with JD Stacy to drive 10 Cup races starting at the Daytona 500. For the season-opening Cup race at Riverside, he rented a car from Jerry Cracker. The day after the Riverside race he planned to leave for NC
In addition to running the Cup race at Riverside, he would drive the Grand-Am race on Saturday. Tim won the last 2 Riverside Grand-Am races and started this weekend by qualifying 4th.
📸 @bakerracingpix
On lap 11, Williamson tried to pass to right of another car in the esses. Heavy rain the day before made the dirt off the side of the track very muddy and Williamson's right side wheels got in the dirt. He lost control and spun into a concrete wall on the left side of the track
Williamson's Camaro hit the wall hard with the right side of the car. Without head restraints, Tim's helmet hit one of the roll bars. He died instantly. He would've turned 24 one day later.
Tim's Cup ride with JD Stacy was taken by Sterling Marlin who drove only 3 races for JD. Williamson was a close friend of Ernie Irvan, who later followed Tim's ambitions and moved east to race in Cup.

Tim might've succeeded in Cup, but his career was potential unreached

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More from @nascarman_rr

14 Feb 19
Rodney Orr died in practice for the Daytona 500 on this day 25 years ago.

An unknown figure today, this thread will explain the man. 👇
Orr was a motorcross racer who switched to NASCAR to get away from repeated injuries.

He won the 1993 Goody's Dash chanpionship. Here @DocPunchESPN tells a funny story about Rodney's motocross days during a race broadcast
Orr was born in the small town of Robbinsville NC in the Smoky Mountains. Citizens created a collection box and donated money to help Rodney buy tires and rebuild his engines before each race. The "Robbinsville Racing Club" was officially the 93 Dash Series Championship car owner
Read 6 tweets

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