GP Holland 1973.
Roger Williamson crashes hard on lap 8, roll his car and catches fire. Only yards away stood a fire tender, but no order was given to stop the race and its driver refused, perhaps rightly, to drive against the direction of the traffic. Worse, marshals with fire extinguishers merely watched as Purley fought a lone battle to right the upturned March. He could hear Williamson inside it. Roger pleaded with him to get him out. Time and again Purley tried to lift the car, but each time he failed. For two laps - at least 2m 47s -the fire was minimal, but then it grew dramatically in intensity. David tried to fight it after grabbing an extinguisher from one marshal, but by then the fire had too strong a hold. As the marshals still remained immobile, appalled spectators began to try and help, unable to believe what they were seeing. Only then were marshals with police dogs galvanized into action, to keep them back. Finally, in the most callous act of cowardice ever seen in motor racing, they moved at last and tried to drag the desolate Purley away. He shrugged them off angrily. Roger was uninjured in the cockpit, but they left him to die of asphyxiation. When they finally arrived, the fire trucks were far, far too late. David Purley : Through his tears he said, "I just couldn't turn it over. I could see he was alive and I could hear him shouting, but I couldn't get the car over. I was trying to get people to help me, and if I could have turned the car over he would have been alright, we could have got him out." Later, when the immediate grief had receded, he admitted, "I didn't even think about the heroism or any of that rubbish. I just did what comes naturally to a trained soldier who sees a fellow in trouble." Ian Philips - journalist and friend : "Purley actually had a conversation with him. David was trying to turn him over and told me afterwards how Roger had said to him, For God's sake, David, get me out of here', and he just couldn't get him out. The circumstances were just appalling. David Purley was later awared the British Imperial George Medal, the second highest (highest being the George Cross) medal that can ever be awarded to a civilian for bravery.