Former IMSA and IndyCar racer Bill Whittington was killed Friday when a plane he was piloting crashed in the Arizona desert, according to multiple reports. Whittington, along with brothers Don and Dale are the only three brothers to qualify for the same Indianapolis 500. He was 71.
Bill and Don, along with Klaus Ludwig, won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans. Soon after, Bill and Don were convicted of drug smuggling and other charges and served time in prison.
According to Racer magazine, friend and fellow convicted smuggler Randy Lanier said that Whittington was giving a ride to a friend who had terminal cancer. While both Don and Bill racer P-51 Mustangs, it was a conventional 1981 Swearingin Merlin that Bill crashed, a twin-engine, 11-passenger plane registered to Global Air of Scottsdale, Arizona.
FlightWatch shows the flight pattern of the plane taking off from Scottsdale, and flying northeast to near Winslow when it crashed just north of Interstate 40 on a desert road in Navajo County, Arizona. The Navajo Sheriff’s Office helped extinguish a fire in the wreckage and found two deceased males. The Sheriff’s department declined further comment, as did the NTSB, which is investigating the crash.
FlightPath shows the plane made several loops and a figure 8 before crashing at 5,700 feet. Winslow is over 4,800 feet in altitude. At times, the plane flew higher than 15,000 feet, and speeds in excess of 300 mph before the one-hour, seven-minute flight ended. Speed was 100 mph when it crashed.
Services are pending.
RIP Bill Whittington. You had your crosses to bear but you checked every box in life my friend. We will miss you. #Lemans24winner #renoairracewinner #indycardriver #father #husband #friend
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