Motor racing enthusiast dies after motorcycle crash near Timaru

Temuka man Steve Williams, pictured at Lake Gairdner, South Australia, in 2013 with his wife Teena Williams and Jesse Lawrance, died in a motorbike accident near town on Monday.

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Temuka man Steve Williams, pictured at Lake Gairdner, South Australia, in 2013 with his wife Teena Williams and Jesse Lawrance, died in a motorbike accident near town on Monday.

Tributes are pouring in for respected Temuka motor racing enthusiast Steve Williams, who died following a motorcycle accident on Monday.

Williams, 69, who was well known in racing circles and car enthusiasts, died Tuesday night after being seriously injured in the crash on the State Highway between Timaru and Temuka on Monday.

The single-vehicle accident, between Seadown and Kennels roads, was reported to emergency services just after 1 p.m. A St John’s spokesman said a patient had been taken to Timaru Hospital in critical condition following the accident.

A post on the Muscle Car Madness event’s social media page informed members of the death of “our great friend Steve Williams from Temuka” on Tuesday night following Monday’s motorcycle accident.

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“Steve has accomplished a lot in his life, surviving the majority of MCMs, drag racing – including a top booze dragster, hitting over 220mph on the Bonneville salt flats and a hot rodder for forever. He will be greatly missed.”

Tornado Rod and Custom Club chairman Andy White said Williams was a club member and founding and life member of the Stateside Streeters in Dunedin.

“He was well known in the hot rod fraternity and well liked. He went to a lot of events.

Steve Williams, pictured working on his car in 2011, was remembered by friends in the motor racing community as a great companion and accomplished racer.  (File photo)

Mytchall Bransgrove / Stuff

Steve Williams, pictured working on his car in 2011, was remembered by friends in the motor racing community as a great companion and accomplished racer. (File photo)

In 2013, Williams broke an Australian land speed record on the salt pans of Lake Gairdner, South Australia.

After the race, Williams described it as a “pretty scary race”, recounting The Herald Timaru “the track was only 100 feet wide and I was hitting both sides at over 200 miles per hour”.

Williams, who was 60 at the time, broke the “B-Gas competition coupe” record in his modified 1934 Plymouth coupe. His big-block Chevrolet 427-powered coupe officially averaged 201.084 mph for his runs.

Williams bought the ramshackle hull from a paddock in Southland for $500 and worked with panel beater Brian King to restore it in his Temuka garage.

Friend of over 20 years and hot rod colleague, Gilbert Bailey, of Pleasant Point, worked on the Plymouth record with Williams and was there when his mate broke the record.

“We had so much fun building the land speed record car, endless days in his garage and two trips to Australia.

In 2015, Bailey said the two took Bailey’s Plymouth and a motorcycle to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, United States, for a potential record, but instead got swamped and ended up in the Mojave Desert instead.

“He was a doer, he did things. He built a dragster and did the certification, a requirement for a modified vehicle.

He said his companion also loves motorcycles and rides Harley Davidsons.

Bailey said he used to attend the annual Greymouth street motorcycle races with Williams driving their 1930 Model A Ford pickup truck.

“I will miss his company, his humor and his advice. He was a man of ideas, and it was good to run things through him.

A self-confessed speed enthusiast, Williams rode LP dragsters in the ’80s before going on hiatus and built numerous hotrods over the years.

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