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'Grand Prix: The Killer Years'


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#1 fieraku

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 12:36

I just watched on Velocity this show and was shocked at the sheer number of fatalities during that period.Those guys deserve the utmost respect and had balls of steel.
After having watched that it puts things in perspective as those men laid the foundation with flesh,blood and tears.Today's drivers should not complain about a single thing. I now understand some of the posters' deep respect not only for their skills but heart and passion after having watched those warriors race.
If you can watch this,it's not for the faint hearted.
http://www.dailymoti...t=60#from=embed

What was so wrong with Formula One racing during this period? Why were there a shocking 57 driver deaths from 1961 through 1973? What gruesome events finally forced a change in the racing culture for good?

Grand Prix: The Killer Years, airing Sunday, March 4 at 8:00 pm E/P is an uncompromising look at just what was going on in racing during those years, and is a tribute to those drivers whose deaths eventually forced a change. This is their story.

http://blogs.discove...ller-years.html

Edited by fieraku, 24 March 2012 - 12:38.


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#2 Catalina Park

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 12:46

I just watched on Velocity this show and was shocked at the sheer number of fatalities during that period.Those guys deserve the utmost respect and had balls of steel.
After having watched that it puts things in perspective as those men laid the foundation with flesh,blood and tears.Today's drivers should not complain about a single thing. I now understand some of the posters' deep respect not only for their skills but heart and passion after having watched those warriors race.
If you can watch this,it's not for the faint hearted.
http://www.dailymoti...t=60#from=embed


http://blogs.discove...ller-years.html

I just read the blurb on the Discovery page. What a load of bollocks. If their version of the Jackie Stewart crash at Spa is anything to go by I think I will give the video a miss.


#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 13:00

It's not as bad as it sounds, Michael. I was initially sceptical when it was shown here last year, but it exceeded expectations:

http://forums.autosp...hl=killer years

#4 nicanary

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 13:17

I've seen it before and agree that it makes its point pretty conclusively.

It's the only piece of footage I've seen which shows without holding back the horror of Lorenzo Bandini's crash at Monaco. Totally gruesome stuff, but some would say necessary in order to make people think.

#5 rallen

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 14:15

I watched it last year, it was very good and not as sensationalist as I thought it would be.

To be honest, all things considered and how bad safety was I am always surprised that more drivers didn't die in those years.

#6 cpbell

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 15:59

Bear in mind that the writer of the article probably had nothing to do with the making of the programme, so the content of the article is fairly irrelevant. The programme was actually fairly good, all things considered.

#7 E1pix

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 21:22

Great show... very difficult and haunting in places, but after all that is the way it really was.

I was in single digits during the '60s and read voraciously about racing. So much pain then, and though I'm glad for driver safety I sometimes wonder if current shoes have any real sense how lucky they are now.

Their predecessors did it at 100x risk, and for .01 of the wage. Bravery Defined.

#8 David M. Kane

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 22:42

Great show... very difficult and haunting in places, but after all that is the way it really was.

I was in single digits during the '60s and read voraciously about racing. So much pain then, and though I'm glad for driver safety I sometimes wonder if current shoes have any real sense how lucky they are now.

Their predecessors did it at 100x risk, and for .01 of the wage. Bravery Defined.



It just on the USA about 2 hours ago. Check your local listings for a possible repeat. :up:

#9 E1pix

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 22:51

It just on the USA about 2 hours ago. Check your local listings for a possible repeat. :up:

:up: Thanks Much, David... USA Network you mean??? (hoping, hoping...)

We don't get Velocity... :mad: Hafta pay more for that, just so I can watch even more more ads. ;)

#10 SKL

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 02:12

Thought it was very good- I lived thru that era reading Rob Walker's accounts in Road and Track... I thought the interviews with Jimmy Clark's mechanic were the most haunting. And watching the video of him that morning knowing what was coming...

#11 stevewf1

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 05:07

I'll have to look this up.

I started following Grand Prix racing in the late 60s and remember hearing about Clark, Rindt, McLaren, Rodriguez, Siffert and so on... And that's why I have complete respect today for the opinions of the drivers from that era, because they survived a period today's drivers can't imagine.



#12 JacnGille

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 14:14

I started following Grand Prix racing in the late 60s and remember hearing about Clark, Rindt, McLaren, Rodriguez, Siffert and so on... And that's why I have complete respect today for the opinions of the drivers from that era, because they survived a period today's drivers can't imagine.

:up:

#13 Vitesse2

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 14:40

I'll have to look this up.

I started following Grand Prix racing in the late 60s and remember hearing about Clark, Rindt, McLaren, Rodriguez, Siffert and so on... And that's why I have complete respect today for the opinions of the drivers from that era, because they survived a period today's drivers can't imagine.

...and nor, judging from some of the comments in RC on the red-flagging of today's race in Malaysia due to torrential rain and a flooded track, can a lot of today's fans fanboiz. :rolleyes:

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 16:42

Originally posted by SKL
Thought it was very good- I lived through that era reading Rob Walker's accounts in Road and Track.....


While I understand where you're coming from, I think we need a bit of perspective...

I'm thinking that Rob Walker's reports started about the beginning of '68, as I recall strongly Henry N Manney III's GP reports in Road & Track in 1966, I guess he went through '67 as well.

Both of them did get to the nitty gritty of the personal side of the sport. It was all in there, and when the deaths took place they covered it well.

But were deaths among GP drivers so exclusively high in that period?

Were there not sufficient deaths in the twenties or thirties, or the forties and early fifties, for this particular era to stand out?

#15 RogerFrench

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 17:12

My question too, Ray. I'm old enough to remember the 50s, and it seemed to me there were quite a few then, and the film suggests that the move from the front-engined factory machines to the rear-engined cars of the garagistes increased the accident rate. Did it really?

#16 David McKinney

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 18:12

Moi aussi

But I was afraid to mention it in case someone asked me to produce the figures...

And of course Jackie Stewart's 57 would have included all levels of racing, possibly even rallying and motorcycle racing as well

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 18:29

Of course, with numbers like that, they can't all have died in GP cars... even if they were Grand Prix drivers... ie. had at some time competed in a Grand Prix...

Like Bruce McLaren (Can-Am car), Jim Clark (F2), Mike Spence (Indianapolis), Tim Mayer (Tasman Cup car), Jean Behra (Porsche sports car), Jo Bonnier (Le Mans), Alfonso de Portago (Mille Miglia), Ludovico Scarfiotti (hillclimb sports car), Walt Hansgen (Le Mans test), Pedro Rodriguez (sports car) and I'm sure you can think of others.

Edited by Ray Bell, 25 March 2012 - 18:32.


#18 E1pix

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 20:14

... And of course Jackie Stewart's 57 would have included all levels of racing, possibly even rallying and motorcycle racing as well

I wondered about that myself... after hearing his, paraphrased, "odds of dying in F1 then were 2 out of 3" I really wondered about the "57" as well (no disrespects to the great Jackie implied).

Of course, with numbers like that, they can't all have died in GP cars... even if they were Grand Prix drivers... ie. had at some time competed in a Grand Prix...

Like Bruce McLaren (Can-Am car), Jim Clark (F2), Mike Spence (Indianapolis), Tim Mayer (Tasman Cup car), Jean Behra (Porsche sports car), Jo Bonnier (Le Mans), Alfonso de Portago (Mille Miglia), Ludovico Scarfiotti (hillclimb sports car), Walt Hansgen (Le Mans test), Pedro Rodriguez (sports car) and I'm sure you can think of others.

A most valid point, since approximately 60 have been killed at Indianapolis alone.

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 20:37

At one time two out of three regular GP drivers was pretty true...

Look at a grid from the mid-sixties where there's not much in the way of 'additional' entries.

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#20 D-Type

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 20:33

At one time two out of three regular GP drivers was pretty true...

Look at a grid from the mid-sixties where there's not much in the way of 'additional' entries.

I did this a while back and may have even posted the findings on another thread. The figure of 1 in 3 being killed in a racing car is nearer the mark than 2 in 3 - but even so, still unacceptably high.

#21 cpbell

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 20:56

I did this a while back and may have even posted the findings on another thread. The figure of 1 in 3 being killed in a racing car is nearer the mark than 2 in 3 - but even so, still unacceptably high.


I'm sure I once heard Sir Jackie referring to 1 in 3 a few years back.

#22 cheesy poofs

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 14:45

Whatever the numbers were, it was a period where everyone knew the risks were there. It was just a matter of time who was going to be next. Some were lucky to escape their first "the big one" while others never had a second chance.

A fascinating but yet deadly generation.



#23 Mal9444

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 06:06

I found this thread while browsing last evening and watched the show. I also recall that the period in question was when, after first Moss's accident and then Clark's death, I began to lose interest in motor racing. My era as a (fairly young) spectator was the period 1954 - 68/ 69 and I vividly recall the sneering from those who did not drive racing cars at the likes of Jackie Stewart, 'pious Scot with beady eyes'. (Q: How do you find Jackie Stewarts house? A: Fly to Geneva, leave the airpiort and follow the Armco barriers. Ho ho ho...)

How different is our perspective now.

But one question came again to my mind that I have often wondered and never seen satisfactorily answered: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars? So many drivers died (or were badly injured) due to mechanical failure in Lotus cars designed and built under Chapman compared to - well - just about all the others put together that it must have been obvious to even the most blind observer that there was something seriously amiss. (And the courts, the programme revealed, evidently would have thought so too - or Chapman would not have settled out of court with the private purchaser who sued him.) There is the famous story of Stirling Moss, presented with a cake in the shape of a Lotus at a post-race dinner in the States, cutting off the rear wheel and having it very publicly sent across to Chapman's table. Chapman, the story goes, did not think it very funny.

In the programme Chapman, in response to a question on camera that pre-echoes my own, says 'there are so mnay things that can go wrong with a racing car that the unusual ones are the one that finish', which would seem to indicate that to him the fatal (to someone else) consequence of something 'going wrong' was just one of those things. He might have regretted the death of his driver (he was reportedly so upset over Clark's death that he just wimped-out of the consequent clear-up and left it to others, notably Graham Hill) - but it does not seem to have prompted him to channel his much lauded engineering genius into making his cars stronger or safer. This seems to me 'genius' of a very flawed nature.

I did do a Forum search to see if this subject has been much discussed before (I assumed that it must have been, probably exhaustively so) but all I could find was http://forums.autosp... chapman killer which seems very quickly to degenrate into a discussion of the rather bizarre notion that he faked his own death and is now (was then) living in Brazil. I confess I had not heard that one before.

So: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars?

#24 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 16:05

I found this thread while browsing last evening and watched the show. I also recall that the period in question was when, after first Moss's accident and then Clark's death, I began to lose interest in motor racing. My era as a (fairly young) spectator was the period 1954 - 68/ 69 and I vividly recall the sneering from those who did not drive racing cars at the likes of Jackie Stewart, 'pious Scot with beady eyes'. (Q: How do you find Jackie Stewarts house? A: Fly to Geneva, leave the airpiort and follow the Armco barriers. Ho ho ho...)

How different is our perspective now.

But one question came again to my mind that I have often wondered and never seen satisfactorily answered: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars? So many drivers died (or were badly injured) due to mechanical failure in Lotus cars designed and built under Chapman compared to - well - just about all the others put together that it must have been obvious to even the most blind observer that there was something seriously amiss. (And the courts, the programme revealed, evidently would have thought so too - or Chapman would not have settled out of court with the private purchaser who sued him.) There is the famous story of Stirling Moss, presented with a cake in the shape of a Lotus at a post-race dinner in the States, cutting off the rear wheel and having it very publicly sent across to Chapman's table. Chapman, the story goes, did not think it very funny.

In the programme Chapman, in response to a question on camera that pre-echoes my own, says 'there are so mnay things that can go wrong with a racing car that the unusual ones are the one that finish', which would seem to indicate that to him the fatal (to someone else) consequence of something 'going wrong' was just one of those things. He might have regretted the death of his driver (he was reportedly so upset over Clark's death that he just wimped-out of the consequent clear-up and left it to others, notably Graham Hill) - but it does not seem to have prompted him to channel his much lauded engineering genius into making his cars stronger or safer. This seems to me 'genius' of a very flawed nature.

I did do a Forum search to see if this subject has been much discussed before (I assumed that it must have been, probably exhaustively so) but all I could find was http://forums.autosp... chapman killer which seems very quickly to degenrate into a discussion of the rather bizarre notion that he faked his own death and is now (was then) living in Brazil. I confess I had not heard that one before.

So: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars?


I don't believe so; he told mmo he didn't want to get too close to him because he couldn't handle losing another friend/driver.


#25 jj2728

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 18:20

I'm sure he cared about his drivers. Maybe it was more akin to a NASA and the astronauts thing. Envelope pushing and such, but I'm almost sure he never felt as close to another driver after Jimmy.

#26 kayemod

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 19:19

I'm sure he cared about his drivers. Maybe it was more akin to a NASA and the astronauts thing. Envelope pushing and such, but I'm almost sure he never felt as close to another driver after Jimmy.


I'm sure that's true, whatever his faults, Colin Chapman wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a bad or heartless man, and he's been unfairly blamed for a lot of things. I worked with him at a fairly junior level in the 70s, and I know the way he thought. Take the Jochen Rindt crash as just one example of this, the 'badly machined driveshafts' theory was widely believed at the time, and by many to this day, but Denny Hulme saw it all happen, he saw Rindt's Lotus 72 go out of control with his own eyes, and more rational consideration backed by eye witness Denny, points to an unbalanced set-up on cold tyres, all chosen possibly against Chapman's advice, by Jochen. This has been discussed several times here in the past, as has Jim Clark's crash, more or less established as due to tyre failure. It's true of course that a Lotus was never a 'blacksmith's job' a description that could perhaps be applied to most Coopers, but they too suffered from suspension breakages, just ask Brian Redman, so heavier isn't necessarily better or safer.

#27 Myrvold

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 20:37

Regarding the number of deaths in F1.
I seem to remember reading the yearbook from 94 that comes out in Norway (it covers the main stories from all that's happended that year). It said that Ayrton Senna's death was the 40th death in F1. But reading wikipedia that is somewhat wrong, so... I don't know. But 57 from 61 to 73 is not F1-only.

#28 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 22:21

Regarding the number of deaths in F1.
I seem to remember reading the yearbook from 94 that comes out in Norway (it covers the main stories from all that's happended that year). It said that Ayrton Senna's death was the 40th death in F1. But reading wikipedia that is somewhat wrong, so... I don't know. But 57 from 61 to 73 is not F1-only.


I believe Jackie said he and Helen knew 57 who died. He didn't specify the type of racing.

#29 D-Type

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 22:36

Regarding the number of deaths in F1.
I seem to remember reading the yearbook from 94 that comes out in Norway (it covers the main stories from all that's happended that year). It said that Ayrton Senna's death was the 40th death in F1. But reading wikipedia that is somewhat wrong, so... I don't know. But 57 from 61 to 73 is not F1-only.

The obvious question: Did they mean "in F1 races" or "in World Championship races". This dictates whether you include Harry Schell, Ricardo Rodriguez, Jo Siffert et al

#30 LittleChris

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 00:12

And do they include spectators ?

Edit : And tests eg Cabianca ?

Edited by LittleChris, 08 April 2012 - 00:18.


#31 R.W. Mackenzie

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 15:46

This photo appears in the documentary about 16 minutes in during the discussion of Spa and the 1966 race but no identification is given

Warning! This picture appears to show the aftermath of a fatal accident!

http://imageshack.us.../unknownyg.jpg/

Does anyone know whose car this is?

Bob Mackenzie

#32 Macca

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 18:54

That is a picture Doug Nye was looking for....it's Attwood's car (Lotus 25-BRM R4) wrapped round a telephone pole on the Masta Straight in 1965.

Somehow Attwod scrambled out befor it caught fire, and escaped with cuts, bruises and abrasions, although I think he missed a race or two.

Paul M

#33 R.W. Mackenzie

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 19:10

Thanks Paul,

Glad to here it wasn't fatal. Although for the life of me I can't see how Dickie could have "scrambled out" of that. It's amazing how localized the damage is. I don't have my Doug Nye Lotus book near by at the moment. Did R4 ever race again?

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#34 Macca

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 19:17

Yes, it was repaired or re-tubbed and re-numbered R13 and was raced by the Parnell team on into 1967 - it's the car seen in 'Yamura' colours at Zandvoort in the actual 1966 race footage used in 'Grand Prix'.

You next photo on Imageshack appears to show the aftermath of Gary Hocking's fatal crash in a Lotus 24 in practise for the 1962 Natal GP.

Paul M

#35 R.W. Mackenzie

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 19:34

Yes, that's because I thought it might have been Gary Hocking's fatal accident. I originally asked the question on the Fastlane site and showed the picture you mention to illustrate that this wasn't the case.

I must say that using this picture in the documentary is a little bit misleading. Dickie Attwood was only moderately injured and only missed one Grand Prix.

Of course he was extremely lucky to still be alive.

Bob Mackenzie

#36 Gary C

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 21:14

'I must say that using this picture in the documentary is a little bit misleading.'
I'm afraid that's the type of programme it was. I didn't rate it.

#37 Spaceframe

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 12:12

I did this a while back and may have even posted the findings on another thread. The figure of 1 in 3 being killed in a racing car is nearer the mark than 2 in 3 - but even so, still unacceptably high.

Max Mosley once said that when he entered F1 in 1970, there was a 50 ercent chance of suviving F1 - the stats backing this statement were based on the respective fates of the actual F1 Grand Prix winners from 1950-1970 - roughly one third had retired, roughly one third died in racing accidents and roughly one third was still active. I think these numbers remained valid quite a while during the 1970s. And had the racing drivers still been competing in other categories, like they used to back then, the sad statistic would've continued until the early 1980s, when the carbonfibre monocoques changed racing from lethal to merely dangerous...

#38 D-Type

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 12:41

Interesting. My basis for calculating 33% chance of being killed or 67% of survival was to take some typical grids from the period and work out how many were killed at the wheel of any racing car, whether in a race or in practice and I found roughly a third had been killed. So, I came up with more or less the same as Max Mosley although his basis of measurement was different.