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Huston Platt and the Camaro Funny Car he piloted on a dark day. The phone call on Wednesday from Rocky Platt brought sad news. His father Huston Platt, the pioneering drag racer, had died at his Buford, Ga.
This week, we head to the Atlanta metro area. The former Yellow River Dragstrip, located between the Atlanta-area cities of Covington and Conyers, was, like the vast majority of southern strips at the time, a small line of pavement running through a hollow and offering virtually zero safety measures or fan protection. Only small dirt banks with chain-link fences lined the edges of the strip, and fans could practically reach out and touch the cars as they blasted by.
It was an accident that forever changed the safety regulations of all of motorsports. When Platt released his chutes to slow his dragstera spectator approached the sandy, narrow track. The spectator leaned across the track to retrieve a beer can.
Fate forever tagged him as the man at the center of the deadliest accident in American motorsports. The incident weighed heavily on Huston Platt until the day he died. His family and friends said he struggled with the tragedy, overcame the events, and finally moved on to regain his life.
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Yellow River Drag Strip was like so many places in drag racing during the s. It was a very rustic track that consisted of scantly more than the strip itself, some chainlink fence, a couple of berms to give spectators an elevated video and a crummy public address system. It was the kind of place that had been outpaced by the advancement of the machines involved in the sport and the kind of place that people had been used to coming to for years without so much as a care in the world regarding safety. On that March day in Houston Platt and Frank Oglesby were match racing their crude, early funny cars and the place was jammed with an estimated 5, spectators.