Posted 06 October 2002 - 13:57
I'm looking for information about Luis Fontes, private Alfa driver and Le Mans winner 1935 (Lagonda) from Britain: born 1914, killed in action 1942 (plane shot down?), from a family of Portuguese origin.
Anybody around who can detail the dates and places of birth and death? And the circumstances of his death? Or elaborate on the family background? Is it possible Fontes' origins were rather Brazilian???
Many thanks in advance!
Posted 06 October 2002 - 15:38
"We regret to announce that Luis Fontes has been killed while flying on active service with Air Transport Auxiliary. He had an opportunity in 1935 which is of the sort about enthusiasts dream - that of handling the ex-Brian Lewis 2.3 Alfa Romeo in the International Trophy Race when his own MG was not ready in time. He carried No. 13 and showed his great driving ability by winning the race with this difficult car. he was third in the Isle of Man Mannin Moar and second at Phoenis Park in 1935 with this car and also won the Limerick Race. He drove a 4 1/2-litre Lagonda to victory with Hindmarsh at Le Mans. He then disappeared from racing and later flew a Comper Swift in a number of air races."
As discussed in other TNF threads the reason he "disappeared from racing" was because he was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving (on the public road) and served a prison sentence. By coincidence I have only recently learned that he and his wife were great family friends of Connie Monkhouse's - wife of racing photorgapher George Monkhouse although she had not met George at that time and would marry him postwar. It was Fontes who encouraged her to join the ATA who were seeking secretarial staff at the start of the war.
I believe Luis Fontes stalled-in - or struck rising ground in zero visibility conditions - while attempting to deliver either a Wellington twin or Stirling four-engined bomber to an aerodrome in South Wales, Pembrey is the location I have heard quoted most often... but I cannot be sure.
Incidentally, the same issue of 'Motor Sport' - in fact the same page - carried the obituary for Tim Rose-Richards of pre-war Brooklands, Napier-Railton, Bugatti, ERA, Aston Martin, Talbot and Alfa Romeo fame. His full name is cited as Thomas Essery Rose-Richards, nicknamed 'Tim' - wealthy stockbroker-cum-Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, killed flying on active service...
It is worth remembering - regrettably - that perhaps at least as many fatalities were suffered 'on active service' due to accidents and/or mechanical failures as those due to "enemy action".
Posted 06 October 2002 - 15:42
Posted 06 October 2002 - 18:26
Thank you. Something I had wanted to know some time ago.
Posted 06 October 2002 - 22:11
Posted 07 October 2002 - 09:20
Confidence level? About 50 per cent!
Posted 09 October 2002 - 07:01
On the balance, I would think, despite straightening out my obvious typo (1940/1942) and adding the details about his death , the central question of his family background remains unfortunately open ...