Don Branson was an American Sprint car driver who raced in the Indy 500 with a best finish of 5th in 1960. He was killed in a sprint car crash on the dirt oval at Ascot Park in Gardena, California.
Don Branson was born in Rantoul, Illinois, was a sprint car driver supreme in the days of the Foyts, Unsers, Jones, McCluskeys and Larsons. Competing in the National Championship and in Sprint cars when it took a full days work to win a race.
As the Indianapolis 500 counted as a round of the Formula One World championship from 1950 to 1960 he career is credited with participation in 2 grands prix, with 3 championship points scored. He actually raced at Indy eight times between 1959 and 1966 with a best finish of 4th in 1960. His had two other top ten finished coming 5th in 1963 and 8th in 1965.
Jud Larson a hard drinker and Don Branson, a more sober sort, put on a legendary battle for the USAC sprint car championship in 1964, which Branson ultimately won. Both were killed, in separate accidents, soon after. Branson died at Ascot Park in Gardena, CA in a November, 1966 crash which also claimed Dick Atkins. There are those who believe a heart attack may have been responsible for the crash which claimed both Branson and Dick Atkins that day. Jud Larson was killed at Reading, PA in a 1966 crash that claimed the life of Red Riegel as well.
Branson had accepted an appointment to join Goodyear as Field Manager for USAC Champ racing and was due to start on January 1st 1967.