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#1 Julian Pratt

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 04:55

When I started working on performance cars in 1964, I worked for the Allard Motor Company, preparing cars for Sydney and Alan Allard. One of the mechanics Tom McGlone used to prepare Chris Bristow's Cooper Borgward. After Chris was killed, Tom withdrew from circuit racing. Does anyone know if Tom McGlone is still around? At that time, he had a Cooper Norton 500 in his garage! He was also friendly with Albert Zanes, another interesting name. Anyone know what happened to him?

My real question is has anyone any recollections or anecdotes about Chris Bristow. From what I have read he seems to have been an outstanding talent. I think he qualified in only his second or third F1 race on the front row at Monaco, and the team decided that this was too much, too soon and swapped his place with his team mate and put him back on the second row. Think about it....

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#2 Hieronymus

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 05:47

Chris competed here in South Africa in the early sixties. He had a mother of an accident at Sacks Circle in Bellville when he rolled the Alfa Veloce of Ted Lanfear. I have the newspaper reports from that meeting.

#3 Barry Boor

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 06:47

I have clear memories of the day Chris died. My father and I went into a small movie theatre at a holiday camp in southern England to watch the BBC news. I was only 12 but left the place in a state of shock!

Sadly, we will never know just how successful Chris Bristow would have been. He was extremely quick in a racing car but I have the feeling that had it not ended that day at Spa it would have ended somewhere else, not all that long after.

#4 Vicuna

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 07:31

Always thought the lives of Bristow and Brise had a lot more in common than the first 4 letters of their surnames

#5 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 08:33

http://www.findagrav...&GRid=13993352

#6 oldtimer

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 16:22

Scary to watch.

I'm afraid he left me with the feeling he was an accident waiting to happen.

A viewpoint from Joe Spectator at British circuits which didn't demand anywhere the respect that Spa then required.

#7 Barry Boor

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 16:34

Oldtimer wrote:

I'm afraid he left me with the feeling he was an accident waiting to happen.


So, I'm not the only one with that thought!

#8 KJJ

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 17:38

In "All Arms and Elbows" Innes Ireland expresses the opinion that Bristow "may have exaggerated his style of driving" because of "the tremendous write-ups he got" and "the adulation of the motoring correspondents." Did "a belief in his own publicity" lead to his Spa crash, for Innes "the suspicion is there."

#9 Barry Boor

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 17:43

Maybe, but I suspect the simple truth of the Spa disaster was that Chris got carried away in a frantic dice with a certain fiery Belgian.

Trevor Taylor did exactly the same 2 years later and JUST got away with it.

#10 D-Type

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 21:52

Jenks certainly felt his driving was somewhat wild. I remember one report, maybe the Brussels GP, saying that another driver who spun off "did a Bristow" and being berated in the correspondence columns as a result.

I think he would have sobered up with time like a certain 'Fletcher' did.

#11 Barry Boor

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 06:26

The trouble is, D, that in those days of unforgiving cars and even more unforgiving circuits, I doubt he would have been given the time.

#12 eldougo

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 06:50

I guess maybe Chris got caught up in the Hipe that the English press, seem to put on any up and comming driver in the UK.And it still happening TODAY. :down:

#13 Barry Boor

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 06:53

Somehow I don't think that was awfully relevant in 1960. Almost the only mention motor sport ever got in the daily press was when someone died.

#14 KJJ

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:49

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Somehow I don't think that was awfully relevant in 1960. Almost the only mention motor sport ever got in the daily press was when someone died.


I know that this is the generally held view, but if it was true can someone explain how Stirling Moss become so famous?

Weren't many meetings actually being sponsored by the national newspapers at that time and of course the television and radio coverage was seen and heard by more of the UK general public than it ever is today. Then look at the Pathe newsreels, again main stream coverage of motor sport in your local cinema. When Innes beat Moss twice in a day at Goodwood he became a nationally known figure overnight, courtesy of the Great British press. So Innes had direct experience of the hype the press could bring to bear on a new star - although at least he had the good sense to realise that his success that bank holiday was down to the car.

I know this is a contrary opinion but I would really like to see some hard evidence before accepting that motor sport was some sort of backwater in the 50s and 60s.

#15 Kpy

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 10:41

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Somehow I don't think that was awfully relevant in 1960. Almost the only mention motor sport ever got in the daily press was when someone died.

That's just not true, Barry. In fact, with the greatest respect, it's an urban myth.
I followed motor racing from the mid-fifties onward by reading the national press. There was plenty of cover in the quality (Times and Telegraph) and popular (Express and Mail) broadsheets.
I read Motor Sport every month, but those reports were often way out of date, due to deadlines.

#16 oldtimer

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 17:21

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Maybe, but I suspect the simple truth of the Spa disaster was that Chris got carried away in a frantic dice with a certain fiery Belgian.

Trevor Taylor did exactly the same 2 years later and JUST got away with it.


IMHO, in those days there were circuits where you took on the circuit rather before taking on other car/driver combinations. Spa and the Nurburgring come immediately to mind, with Spa at the top if you were thinking of going to the next race.

#17 Barry Boor

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 18:04

My defence is that until I was well into my teens, the only newspaper I ever saw was the Daily Mirror.

I stand by my view that motor racing was more or less ignored - certainly by that rag!

#18 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 18:24

I certainly recall Clark's Indy win being front page news, with photo. The Daily Express used to have pages and pages of articles in the run-up to, and aftermath of, 'their' International Trophy. I also remember the 1965 Race of Champions getting a fair bit of coverage on the BBC news bulletin that evening, although that may have been mainly because of Clark's crash.

#19 Keir

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 18:30

From an ex-race driver's view, we all think we have the ability to be the best, but time and the circumstances we find ourselves in will either prove us right or wrong. In Bristow's case, he paid a very high price, but I don't think the media had a revelant part in his untimely death.

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#20 KJJ

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 22:16

DSJ certainly didn't mince his words in that Bruxelles GP report:

"Another driver who finished practice on his heels, but might well have been on his head, was young Bristow, for though he recorded third best time overall with 2 min. 04.3 sec., it was only as the result of some very untidy driving, using full-opposite lock, bumping kerbs and cutting up the grass verges..".

The bearded one's summing up:

"Would it be rude to suggest that Yeoman Credit enter Bristow for stock-car racing in future and leave Formula 2 to tidy young drivers like Lewis and Campbell-Jones."

Bristow certainly seemed to divide people into those who saw him as a potential world champion and those who thought he was just wild. I wonder why? A class thing?

#21 FLB

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 22:31

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Somehow I don't think that was awfully relevant in 1960. Almost the only mention motor sport ever got in the daily press was when someone died.

I can only offer a French perspective.


After Monaco 1968, Johnny Servoz-Gavin met André Simon. Servoz was going through a tough time and asked for Simon's advice. This was the advice he got (I'm paraphrasing) :

'Never read what the press writes about you. If you do well, they'll treat you like a god. If you don't, they'll be quick to judge and destroy you even if they have no idea what they're talking about. That's what happened to Jean Behra. He killed himself because he was trying to prove them he still had it'...

#22 Julian Pratt

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:37

Bristow certainly seemed to divide people into those who saw him as a potential world champion and those who thought he was just wild. I wonder why? A class thing? [/B][/QUOTE]

Good point about the class thing. I thought Jenk's description was a bit rich! Sounds like Rindt, Arnoux, Villeneuve and Sheckter (in his early days)!

It was probably a mixture of class (background) and arrogance. I think Bristow knew how good he was and was not afraid to say so and show how good he was on the track. This would be considered not "British", and would possibly be frowned on.

How things have changed!

#23 oldtimer

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 03:06

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Julian Pratt
Bristow certainly seemed to divide people into those who saw him as a potential world champion and those who thought he was just wild. I wonder why? A class thing? [/QUOTE]

Good point about the class thing. I thought Jenk's description was a bit rich! Sounds like Rindt, Arnoux, Villeneuve and Sheckter (in his early days)!

[/B][/QUOTE]

Neither Rindt, Arnoux, Villeneuve (G) nor Scheckter raced on the old Spa circuit. That circuit was absolutely the wrong place for wild driving.

Wild driving is what I remember seeing at Silverstone and Goodwood. DSJ reported seeing the same at the Bruxelles GP.

#24 Vicuna

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:27

This class thing is foreign to us

What class was Chris Bristow?

#25 Barry Boor

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:46

Just watch any black and white British movie from before or just after the war. The 2 classes will leap out at you.

Chris was from Lambeth, which, while not technically being an east end Cockney (like someone not a million miles from where I am sitting) is close enough to be looked on as one of the 'working' class types who may well have been somewhat looked down upon by the remaining vestiges of 'the Brooklands Crowd' who, no doubt, were still running motor sport at that time.

#26 Julian Pratt

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:51

Originally posted by Vicuna
This class thing is foreign to us

What class was Chris Bristow?


Great question! A very British thing! In older days there were supposed to be three classes, Working Class = non-educated factory workers, miners etc. Middle Class = people who work at desks etc, Upper Class = people who have inherieted cash and are very rich.

I was about 10 when I asked my father what all these classes meant. Being a wise man he told me that Working Class people work and Upper Class people do not.

#27 Barry Boor

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:55

I know my place.....

#28 ian senior

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:52

Originally posted by Barry Boor
I know my place.....


I thought you were a bit taller than Ronnie Corbett.

#29 Rob29

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:08

Originally posted by Barry Boor
My defence is that until I was well into my teens, the only newspaper I ever saw was the Daily Mirror.

I stand by my view that motor racing was more or less ignored - certainly by that rag!

Agreed there.Same in my home parents bought the 'Mirror.At end of '60 I had my own income and started buying the 'Express which I still do!
Bristow was my hero from when I first spotted him at Crystal Palace in '59.I too was brought up in Lambeth until '56.First I knew of motor racing was when CP opening was advertised on the back of buses,though the London-Brighton veteran car run passed within 5 mins walk of our home.
I don't recall his driving being any wilder than his contemparies.Only GP televised that he did would have been Monaco,so that and '59 Oulton Gold Cup were the only F1 races I saw him in.

#30 Wolf

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 10:19

Originally posted by oldtimer


Neither Rindt, Arnoux, Villeneuve (G) nor Scheckter raced on the old Spa circuit. That circuit was absolutely the wrong place for wild driving.


Oldtimer, a small correction- Rindt did drive on old Spa, and I believe his performance in '66 race was quite impressive; finished 2nd in a wet conditions in Cooper-Maserati (IIRC the drying track in the latter stage of the race impaired the handling of his car) few seconds behind 'Il Grande' John in a Ferrari...

#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:07

Originally posted by KJJ
DSJ certainly didn't mince his words in that Bruxelles GP report:

"Another driver who finished practice on his heels, but might well have been on his head, was young Bristow, for though he recorded third best time overall with 2 min. 04.3 sec., it was only as the result of some very untidy driving, using full-opposite lock, bumping kerbs and cutting up the grass verges..".

The bearded one's summing up:

"Would it be rude to suggest that Yeoman Credit enter Bristow for stock-car racing in future and leave Formula 2 to tidy young drivers like Lewis and Campbell-Jones."

Bristow certainly seemed to divide people into those who saw him as a potential world champion and those who thought he was just wild. I wonder why? A class thing?

Interesting thoughts from DSJ, who was old enough to have seen the early career of Pat Fairfield (and probably did).

Pat was at first known as "Skidder" but matured very quickly into a very good driver in both Brooklands track and Donington road races, handling an 1100cc ERA with great skill and putting up some remarkable performances in major events. Although born in Britain, he was seen as a "colonial" from South Africa ....

#32 Keir

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 13:30

In the USA, both the poor and the rich don't work !!

#33 Rob29

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 13:55

Originally posted by Keir
In the USA, both the poor and the rich don't work !!

Think its the same here in the UK nowdays. The majority in work all regard themselves as 'middle class'

#34 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 17:59

Originally posted by KJJ
DSJ certainly didn't mince his words in that Bruxelles GP report:

"Another driver who finished practice on his heels, but might well have been on his head, was young Bristow, for though he recorded third best time overall with 2 min. 04.3 sec., it was only as the result of some very untidy driving, using full-opposite lock, bumping kerbs and cutting up the grass verges..".

The bearded one's summing up:

"Would it be rude to suggest that Yeoman Credit enter Bristow for stock-car racing in future and leave Formula 2 to tidy young drivers like Lewis and Campbell-Jones."

Bristow certainly seemed to divide people into those who saw him as a potential world champion and those who thought he was just wild. I wonder why? A class thing?

I trust that nobody is suggesting that DSJ criticised Bristow's driving because the driver was working class! Anything less typical of DSJ is impossible to imagine.

#35 David McKinney

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 18:19

That Brussels report was the first time I disagreed voilently with a DSJ view. Bristow had beaten Moss, Brabham and everyone else fair and square in an important Brands Hatch F2 race the previous year, and was an immediate contender once he got into F1. Lewis and Campbell-Jones were nowhere near in the same league, and didn't show any likelihood of joining it.
To this day I wonder if Jenks was being deliberately provocative - or perhaps warning Bristow to ease back a notch.

#36 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 18:31

Originally posted by David McKinney
That Brussels report was the first time I disagreed voilently with a DSJ view. Bristow had beaten Moss, Brabham and everyone else fair and square in an important Brands Hatch F2 race the previous year, and was an immediate contender once he got into F1. Lewis and Campbell-Jones were nowhere near in the same league, and didn't show any likelihood of joining it.
To this day I wonder if Jenks was being deliberately provocative - or perhaps warning Bristow to ease back a notch.

Are you thinking of the John Davy Trophy? He beat Bill Moss, but not Stirling!

#37 KJJ

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 18:58

Originally posted by Roger Clark

I trust that nobody is suggesting that DSJ criticised Bristow's driving because the driver was working class! Anything less typical of DSJ is impossible to imagine.


No such suggestion from me! I'm sure that this was DSJ's unprejudiced opinion, although David's suggestion of a warning is food for thought.

I did wonder if there might be a class basis to the very different views about Bristow amongst the followers of the sport. With fans from a similar background being more sympathetic that others. As Barry says you only have to look at the British films of the 50s to see that class divide.

Going back to Innes Ireland's view that Chris got carried away with his own write-ups. I think this has been dismissed too quickly. Innes knew Bristow's driving as well as anyone, they had been rivals in the clubbie Brooklands Trophy series in 1957 and then into F2 and F1. His opinion has some weight. Perhaps DSJ's rather blunt comments were indeed an attempt to puncture the hype.

#38 MCS

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 19:01

Originally posted by Wolf


Oldtimer, a small correction- Rindt did drive on old Spa, and I believe his performance in '66 race was quite impressive; finished 2nd in a wet conditions in Cooper-Maserati (IIRC the drying track in the latter stage of the race impaired the handling of his car) few seconds behind 'Il Grande' John in a Ferrari...


He usually went well at Spa. He even managed to qualify the Lotus 49 on the front row for the 1970 Belgian GP.

#39 Vicuna

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 19:43

Originally posted by Keir
In the USA, both the poor and the rich don't work !!


:lol:

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#40 MPea3

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 20:30

Originally posted by Keir
In the USA, both the poor and the rich don't work !!


The most fortunate of all are those of us who work but don't consider it work.

;)

#41 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 20:44

Originally posted by KJJ


No such suggestion from me! I'm sure that this was DSJ's unprejudiced opinion, although David's suggestion of a warning is food for thought.
... Perhaps DSJ's rather blunt comments were indeed an attempt to puncture the hype.


This is very perceptive and I am confident it is absolutely right. Any suggestion that Jenks would have written what he wrote because of some 'class' consideration is just utter bollocks. I'm as bottom class as can be, not even earning class. My dad was a gardener/general factotum. I grew up through the '50s on a council estate and the old saw about everybody leaving their doors unlocked 'cos nobody had anything worth stealing is absolutely true. It was simple, but it was wonderful. 'Class' was something which seemed to me to be a concern of the industrial classes and the chattering media - it didn't touch us in our little specialised estate world, and it hardly penetrated the serious levels of that other specialised little world of British motor racing...as opposed to the club/gentleman racing levels. Any misplaced class consciousness on track would soon have been blown away!

Jenks came from just down the road below the Bristow garage in south London. I remember Jenks speaking highly of Bristow's talent and potential but adding that he had been "just too fearless for his own good". DSJ always admired the neat and quick - and didn't think much of what he sometimes regarded as show-boating.

He'd seen such talent go to waste before.

When Chris Bristow was decapitated by the fence at Spa it certainly went to waste. In too deep with Willy Mairesse - of all people - his evident sense of youthful immortality proved to have been misplaced. As for 'class' being a significant factor - forget it.

DCN

#42 David McKinney

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 21:01

Originally posted by Roger Clark

Are you thinking of the John Davy Trophy? He beat Bill Moss, but not Stirling!

I'm mixing up two Brands meetings. Bristow won at the first, defeating the likes of Brabham, Salvadori and McLaren.
As you say, S Moss was not there. He was at the next one though, and won. Bristow didn't finish, but had run with Brabham and ahead of everyone else
Still pretty impressive for a youngster, I reckon

#43 Wolf

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 23:20

I don't know much about classes, but I think one needs only to look how and why 'Mad Max' Mosley got involved in racing (or says he did) to get the idea racing world was 'dysfuncional' (detached) in that sense (in relation to 'real world')...

#44 Vicuna

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 00:30

Originally posted by David McKinney

Still pretty impressive for a youngster, I reckon


That's what I always thought

#45 Roger Clark

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 04:47

Originally posted by David McKinney

I'm mixing up two Brands meetings. Bristow won at the first, defeating the likes of Brabham, Salvadori and McLaren.
As you say, S Moss was not there. He was at the next one though, and won. Bristow didn't finish, but had run with Brabham and ahead of everyone else
Still pretty impressive for a youngster, I reckon

No doubt about that. Sadly he was not the first to learn that you could get away with things on a British circuit that were not possible on a continental road circuit.

#46 Julian Pratt

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 03:53

Originally posted by Doug Nye



Jenks came from just down the road below the Bristow garage in south London. I remember Jenks speaking highly of Bristow's talent and potential but adding that he had been "just too fearless for his own good". DSJ always admired the neat and quick - and didn't think much of what he sometimes regarded as show-boating.



DCN


I have found a very imformative site abour Chris Bristow.

http://www.forix.com...tow-stacey.html

I think that the Ken Gregory comments about Bristow being "fearless" are very interesting

"I don't agree with that. I think he knew fear. With the greatest respect to those who believe Chris was fearless, if a driver is fearless he is going to find situations he doesn't expect or can't cope with. It is the capacity to get as near as possible to the line of disaster, with confidence, that enables the good drivers to go as fast as they do. If they are fearless, they would get up to that and beyond it, and wouldn't survive long. So I don't think fearless was the right word for Chris, at all."

Of course, you could read this either way!

As John Blunsden said " "In those days you had to get the car sliding," says J Blunsden. "The sense of balance and co-ordination was typified by Stirling. In those who had it, it shone so clearly. In those who didn't, it didn't half show. Chris had it. Undoubtedly he could have been something. He was bloody quick. Another couple of years and people would have seen just how great he was. There were quite a few who didn't get over that fearlessness threshold in time, and were killed. But Chris was so quick that even in his short time his talent was all too obvious. He was incredibly quick but relatively inexperienced, and for a such driver that was the most dangerous period of all." Ken Gregory comes to a stunning conclusion: "If he had survived, almost certainly he would have been a potential world champion. He was the early Schumacher of his day."

#47 ian senior

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 09:25

The class thing - I don't know really if it ever existed in motor sport, but if it did, surely it could never have been as bad as in some sports such as cricket, where there used to be a distinct divide between amateurs ("gentlemen") and professionals ("players").

I have recently been reading a biography of former England captain Brian Close, in which there is a tale about the "gentleman" cricketer, the Rev David Sheppard. After a match in which Sheppard played, one of the "players" congratulated him on his performance by saying something like "well played, David" - an innocent and well-meant remark, you would think, but no. One of the old farts that ran cricket in those days overheard this and took the "player" to task for calling Sheppard "David" rather than "Mr Sheppard". Disciplinary action was threatened. Absolute nonsense and I gather that this was the prevailing attitude in the game at the time. Perhaps not about class, but snobbery certainly.

#48 Hieronymus

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 11:38

On the "class issue"...I think that Chris was just a born-racer. Brave at heart. Can't comment on his driving skills, but a racing driver with a big heart will always get my vote. If he is modest man, with "class" or without it, it is an extra bonus in my eyes.

By the way, I always thought that "class" had to do with personality. The way you treat other people in life and how they see you as an individual. You either have class or you don't have it...

#49 Hieronymus

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:49

I was given a big collecting of motoring magazines and other motorsport related publications. Last night I discovered an old race programme from a meeting at the Killarney Circuit near Cape Town, ZA.

Amazed to discover, what I would like to believe, an autograph of Chris Bristow. Can anyone please tell me if it is indeed Chris's signature (see attached photo).

Not sure if Chris was still in South Africa at the time...if not, I presume the autograph was obtained at a meeting in Europe.

Many thanks.

Posted Image

#50 David McKinney

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:54

A tiny bell is ringing to the effect that his signature appeared on a contemporary ad for some product he was endorsing. Does that sound right to anyone else?