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Piers Courage (27/05/1942 - 21/06/1970)


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#1 AAA-Eagle

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 20:06

Piers was the eldest son of the chairman of the Courage brewery group, but any thoughts that these connections were an asset to his motor racing aspirations were mistaken. His initial racing experience was gained regularly gyrating the Lotus Seven funded by his father, but after that Piers was on his own as far as finance was concerned. He teamed up with old pal Jonathan Williams in 1964 and the pair terrorised the circuits of Europe, initially with a Lotus 22. Entered under the grandiose Anglo-Swiss Racing Team banner, in reality Courage and Williams lived the sort of hand-to-mouth existence that most privateers had to endure, but third place at Reims and second at Zandvoort in a Brabham encouraged Piers to contest a full F3 season in 1965.

Charles Lucas entered a pair of Brabhams for Piers and Frank Williams, and it proved to be a very successful campaign for Courage, with four wins in major events at Silverstone, Goodwood, Caserta and Reims. This led to an invitation to race the Lotus 41 F3 car for 1966, and although it was inferior to the rival Brabhams Piers still managed a string of wins, earning a ride in Ron Harris' works F2 Lotus in the German GP, where he blotted his copybook by crashing.

BRM signed both Courage and Chris Irwin for 1967, the idea being to run them under the Tim Parnell banner, grooming them for a drive in the works team in the future. It all went sour for Piers very quickly, however, all his good work being repeatedly undone by silly spins. After the Monaco GP, Parnell stuck with Irwin, but Piers had to content himself with a season of Formula 2 in John Coombs' McLaren. His speed was not in doubt and some excellent drives netted him fourth place in the non-graded drivers' championship, but - and it was a big but -the disturbing tendency to crash remained, with major shunts at Pau, Enna and Brands Hatch. Coombs advised him to quit, but Piers was determined to continue.

Early in 1968 he bought the McLaren from Coombs and took it down-under to contest the Tasman series. Pitted against the Lotuses of Clark and Hill, Amon's Ferrari and McLaren's BRM in the seven-race series, Piers was second, fourth, fifth, third, third and fifth before the final round at Longford. In pouring rain Courage simply outdrove the opposition - Clark included - to win the race, but more importantly finally established his credibility.

Turning down an offer to replace the late Jim Clark at Lotus, Piers instead chose to race for Tim Parnell in Grands Prix while teaming up with his old pal Frank Williams in Formula 2, and so successful was their partnership that it was decided to enter F1 with a Brabham in 1969. Aside from a shunt at the Nurburgring, things could hardly have gone better, Courage driving superbly for the fledgling outfit to take second place at Monaco and Watkins Glen. He was also still racing in Formula 2, scoring a win at Enna and five third places, while an invitation to join the Matra team for Le Mans saw Piers take fourth place with Beltoise.

Piers preferred to stay with Frank Williams into the 1970 season instead of accepting an offer from Ferrari. While Williams took the brave and possibly foolhardy step of running the newly constructed de Tomaso-Ford in place of the proven Brabham. The early part of the season was inconclusive with only a third place in the International Trophy to show for their efforts. Meanwhile Piers busied himself in a hectic schedule of endurance events for Alfa Romeo, highlighted by a win with de Adamich in the Buenos Aires 1000 Km. By the time of the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in June, progress seemed to have been made with the de Tomaso, which was placed ninth on the grid, but in the race tragedy struck when Courage slid wide, ran up a bank and crashed. The red car rolled over and burst into flames, and the unfortunate Piers stood no chance.

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#2 Macca

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:24

RIP Porridge - seriously good bloke.

PAul M

#3 Martyj

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 14:38

Piers Courage was one of my all time favorites, even though I'll admit he was never top shelf as a driver. Simply an interesting, colorful personality on the 60's GP circuit. That biography from a few years ago is, quite simply, the most enjoyable book on racing that I ever read...even with it's sad ending.

#4 brooster51

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:37

Originally posted by Martyj
Piers Courage was one of my all time favorites, even though I'll admit he was never top shelf as a driver. Simply an interesting, colorful personality on the 60's GP circuit. That biography from a few years ago is, quite simply, the most enjoyable book on racing that I ever read...even with it's sad ending.


Porridge was one of my favorites too. But I must respectfully disagree with your assesment that he was not top shelf. I think his career ended way too early to truly know. I look at his time in F3 and it seems to me that he definitely displayed the ability. Whether the small formula skills translated to F1, we'll never truly know. After all, he only had one season with a reasonably competive car (the Williams Brabham).

#5 Reyna

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:45

Piers Courage was one of my favorites too !



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Source: Fórmula.

#6 brooster51

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 02:42

Way cool picture. Thanks.

#7 Mac Lark

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 03:51

Is it true that Piers carried the colours of Eton College on his helmet and that in doing so he was copying Richard Attwood who carried 'his' school colours (Harrow) on his hat?

If that bit is true, are there any other drivers (other than James Hunt) that based their helmet colours on their school?

#8 retriever

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 20:33

Sadly, it would appear that the 40th anniversary of his death slipped by without any of us recalling the event - me included.

#9 f1steveuk

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 10:20

Sadly, it would appear that the 40th anniversary of his death slipped by without any of us recalling the event - me included.



I tend to think of these anniversaries to myself, much as when I drove past Goodwood earlier this month.

I worked with Jason Courage for a short period, and he was always happy to talk about his dad, and the accident that confined him to a wheelchair, a very nice chap, and I am told a real chip of the old block. Everytime I bump into him, he always says hi, and funnily enough, after months of inactivity on his Facebook page, I note he's updated today, maybe just occupying his mind.

#10 Ellis French

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 10:50

A single frame shot from my 8mm movies taken on the grid that wet victory day at Longford Tasmania in 1968....still have vivid memories of that fine drive .

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#11 roger.daltrey

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 20:51

I've got Adam Coopers 'Last of the Gentleman Racers' on my shelf in my office - and its a great book, aside for the inevitable final bit.

I always thought that his story would truly be a great F1 film.

His career spanning two decades and the big change from cigar shaped machines to the 'standard' Lotus 72 type look and as the drivers went from short back/sides to sideburns and long hair.

Its only a short time in history, but big social, cultural and technology changes all occurred at the same time.

Perhaps the Courage story could be some sort of metaphor for an entire generation losing their innocence ??

Anyway, enough of my yakking - discuss...



#12 Russ Snyder

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 14:09

I've got Adam Coopers 'Last of the Gentleman Racers' on my shelf in my office - and its a great book, aside for the inevitable final bit.

I always thought that his story would truly be a great F1 film.

His career spanning two decades and the big change from cigar shaped machines to the 'standard' Lotus 72 type look and as the drivers went from short back/sides to sideburns and long hair.

Its only a short time in history, but big social, cultural and technology changes all occurred at the same time.

Perhaps the Courage story could be some sort of metaphor for an entire generation losing their innocence ??

Anyway, enough of my yakking - discuss...



Agreed on the movie .

With the dearth of quality product being produced in films today, the re-making of TV shows (!) into feature films, certainly a movie about the late 60's early 70's F1 would be a worthwhile addition to my theater going.



#13 SJ Lambert

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 11:36

A single frame shot from my 8mm movies taken on the grid that wet victory day at Longford Tasmania in 1968....still have vivid memories of that fine drive .

Posted Image


Bravo Piers! Courage Day!

#14 Longtimefan

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 13:01

42 Years since his loss.

RIP :(


#15 roger.daltrey

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 14:36

Marked by Peter Windsor with a great front cover

http://peterwindsor....te-front-cover/

#16 BRM MICK2

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 17:33

RIP

#17 jj2728

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 19:38

Another year passed. RIP Piers.

#18 Longtimefan

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 23:26

Marked by Peter Windsor with a great front cover

http://peterwindsor....te-front-cover/


Haha thats a superb image.


#19 Wirra

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 23:54

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#20 ellrosso

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 23:59

Great shots Wirra. RIP Piers. Attached shot is after his great win at Longford in 1968 - feeling the cold!

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#21 willga

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:29

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Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Work in progress...

#22 Levin68

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:48

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From my own sadly small collection. Piers at Levin, January 1968, sitting on Jimmy's wheel. A paddock from a different era.


#23 davidfoggfortytwo

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 11:29

RIP Porridge - seriously good bloke.

PAul M


Could not agree more. Met him at Longford the year he won in the wet. What a charming man .

#24 Paul Parker

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 14:33

Could not agree more. Met him at Longford the year he won in the wet. What a charming man .


He was the same in person as he usually appeared in photographs, very pleasant and well mannered.

I met him in 1969 when I was working for H. R. Owen in Knightsbridge and he turned up one day with Simon Radcliffe, who was if I remember correctly, Owen's PR chief.

#25 Lec CRP1

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 16:57

I remember visiting Piers's grave at Shenfield 3 years ago. My ex lived in town, and I'd thought I'd have a look while I was there. It wasn't in the best of repair, which I found surprising as the Courage family weren't the poorest in town.

I didn't take any photos. It seemed disrespectful at the time.

Edited by Lec CRP1, 02 July 2012 - 16:58.