One of the best sprint car drivers of his era and was just begining to shine in the USAC Championships when he was killed at Ascot Park when Don Branson's car bounced off the wall back into his path. Branson died instantly and Atkins passed away the next day from what at first were believed to be burns. However an autosy revealed that the cause of death was a fractured skull.
Dick Atkins died 55 years ago, he was 30 , He would have been 85.
The only American-born driver to win the Formula One World Drivers' Championship (Mario Andretti, an Italian American driver, won the World Drivers' Championship in 1978, but was not born in the United States). He also scored three wins at each of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring sports car races.