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Former Indy 500 driver Salt Walther dies

TROTWOOD, Ohio (AP) — David "Salt" Walther, the former auto and hydroplane racer who was severely burned in a spectacular crash in the 1973 Indianapolis 500, has died. He was 65.

Obit-Walther-Auto-Rac Sidd

FILE - in this May 28, 1973, file photo, Salt Walther sits in his car he he and other drivers waited during intermittent rain showers before the Indianapolis 500 auto race in Indianapolis. Walther, the former auto and hydroplane racer who was severely burned in a spectacular crash in the 1973 race, has died. He was 65. The Montgomery County (Ohio) Coroner's Office confirmed the death Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, saying Walther was reported dead Thursday night and that the cause of death hadn't been determined. (AP Photo/File)

The Montgomery County Coroner's Office confirmed the death Friday, saying Walther was reported dead Thursday night and that the cause of death hadn't been determined.

Walther also drove briefly in NASCAR, finishing 12th in the 1976 Daytona 500.

At the start of the 1973 Indy 500, Walther's car pinwheeled down the track, his legs sticking out of his torn up racer, after touching wheels with Jerry Grant and slamming into the catch-fencing in a fiery crash near the starting line. Blinded by the fireball that spread across the front straightaway, several other drivers slammed into Walther's car.

Walther fought an addiction to pain killers after the accident and spent time in jail and prison. He was arrested in Dayton last month in a case dating to 2007, and it wasn't immediately known if he was incarcerated at the time of his death.

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