Don MacTavish attended his first race at
the age of 13, while visiting the Westboro Speedway. He bought his
first car two years later, but at age 15 he wasn’t allowed in the
Norwood pits, so “Mac” had John Warton drive for him.
Don began competing in the Norwood
“ramp races”, where he would run three laps on the track, and drive
over a set of ramps every fourth lap. When Don turned 17, he and his
friends built a 6 cylinder “bomber”, and MacTavish’s career started
to take off.
Don rose to fame driving demo
derby cars, appearing on ABC-TV’s Wide World of Sports. He also had
a guest spot on To Tell the Truth, due to his demolition derby
antics. By the early 1960’s, Mac was running sportsman cars up and
down the east coast. In ’63, he began competing in NASCAR’s
Sportsman Division. In 1966, MacTavish won the National sportsman
Championship, competing in a mind boggling 122 races, and earning
8,968 championship points. His closest competitors were “Wild”Bill
Slater with 5,768, and Rene Charland with 5,490.
Over the winter of 1968, MacTavish
had his sights set on a Grand National (now Winston Cup) ride. He
moved south, where Humpy Wheeler encouraged Don to enroll in Humpy’s
physical fitness program. Although, Don never learned the
particulars, he was rumored to have nailed down a lucrative “factory
On February 22, 1969, MacTavish
entered the 1969 Permatex 300 at Daytona excited about the upcoming
year. During the race, however, MacTavish’s car suddenly slid up
into the wall. It rolled and was hit by another car, in one of the
most horrible wrecks in the history of the superspeedway. MacTavish
was killed instantly, ending the dream of the popular young champion
from Dover, Mass.