Jump to content


Photo

Greatest lost talents - personal opinions


  • Please log in to reply
175 replies to this topic

#1 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 25 October 2006 - 22:43

I'm sure something similar has been done before but I didn't find anything in a search.

There are several well-known cases of talented drivers having their careers ended prematurely (e.g. Cevert, Pryce, Bellof) but I'm interested to hear opinions on who people consider to be the greatest lost talents from any area/period of racing. Names that immediately spring to mind for me are Guy Moll, Chris Bristow and, in recent years, Greg Moore. It would be great to hear about less recognised drivers and any personal recollections. I always thought that Moore would be able to make a successful transition to F1. He seemed to be very mature in his outlook, belying his age. I think he knew that time was on his side and he could afford to wait for the right moment. Sadly it didn't work out that way.

Advertisement

#2 Vicuna

Vicuna
  • Member

  • 1,588 posts
  • Joined: March 02

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:00

Bertrand Fabi

#3 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:10

Originally posted by Vicuna
Bertrand Fabi


Good call! I believe there's a circuit named after him.

#4 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 53,944 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:37

Seems to me that Gary Hocking could have made good in a fairly big way...

Tim Mayer is another for the list.

#5 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:44

Sadly there are so many from times-gone-by who qualify; and not all of their careers were cut-short by the 'Almighty' either.

Therefore, with that in mind, I nominate TNFer Tommy Byrne.

(And yes, I admit to being biased!)

#6 wolf sun

wolf sun
  • Member

  • 483 posts
  • Joined: September 05

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:46

Tony Brise...he would´ve been champion for sure...

#7 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 25 October 2006 - 23:48

Stephen South?

#8 bpratt

bpratt
  • Member

  • 149 posts
  • Joined: September 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 00:52

Billy Foster, Victoria, BC, Canada. Lost his life early 1967 during practice for the Riverside, CA NASCAR race. October 1966 he had led his first laps in a USAC race in Japan that featured F1 drivers like Jackie Stewart.

Foster had come up through the oval short track ranks winning titles at Victoria's Western Speedway and then in the Pacific Northwest's Canadian American Modified Racing Association circuit. Raced with USAC from mid-1964 through to his death.

#9 RA Historian

RA Historian
  • Member

  • 3,420 posts
  • Joined: October 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 01:02

I second Timmy Mayer.

Also, B.J. Swanson. A young fellow who drove SCCA Club races in 1973-74, then in 1975 got a big break and was put in a Lola T-332 for the pro F-5000 series. He quickly showed that he was a coming man; third at Watkins Glen, fourth at Road America, then the next race, Mid Ohio, and it was all over. Into the guard rail and gone. Oh what might have been......

#10 Rob G

Rob G
  • Member

  • 10,898 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 01:08

Bernd Rosemeyer would be my choice. Sure, he had a few terrific seasons at the pinnacle of racing, but he could have raced for another decade or two if it weren't for that gust of wind (and the war).

And one driver whose early retirement comes to mind is Mike Thackwell.

#11 Clare

Clare
  • Member

  • 158 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 26 October 2006 - 01:23

Esteban Torero :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

#12 vivafroilan!

vivafroilan!
  • Member

  • 311 posts
  • Joined: April 04

Posted 26 October 2006 - 02:51

Gonzalo Rodriguez.

#13 jdanton

jdanton
  • Member

  • 741 posts
  • Joined: November 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 03:03

Greg Moore. Red gloves rule.

#14 ralt76

ralt76
  • New Member

  • 4 posts
  • Joined: October 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 05:01

Chris Irwin, still alive, or so I understand. What would he have accomplished if he had not crashed at the Nurburgring.

#15 FLB

FLB
  • Member

  • 1,925 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 08:06

Originally posted by kevthedrummer
Good call! I believe there's a circuit named after him.

The main boulevard in Rock Forest (Quebec) is also named after Fabi.

The Circuit Bertrand-Fabi is used when the French-based Trophée Andros ice racing series comes to Sherbrooke.

#16 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 7,188 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 26 October 2006 - 08:23

Originally posted by Rob G
Bernd Rosemeyer would be my choice. Sure, he had a few terrific seasons at the pinnacle of racing, but he could have raced for another decade or two if it weren't for that gust of wind (and the war).

And one driver whose early retirement comes to mind is Mike Thackwell.


I was never all that convinced by Mike Thackwell, I'd rank him with the likes of Brian Henton, but Bernd Rosemeyer is one of my all time top 5 with Tazio, Sir Stirling, Fangio and probably Senna, the top 4 are fixed, but no 5 changes depending on my mood. Last month I visited Bernd's memorial a few Kilometres south of Frankfurt, and was moved to find fresh flowers and candles there, he died in 1938 remember. For years the accepted wisdom has been the 'gust of wind' theory, but more recent research and photo analysis has shown that his crash was probably caused by some streamlining panels between the wheel arches becoming detached at speed, causing the car to fly. You can find all this on Google. Certainly Bernd was a great loss, but his talent is unquestionable, he proved that often enough, so I don't really think he can be bracketed with the likes of up & comers like Tom Pryce, Roger Williamson and Tony Brise.

#17 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 53,944 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 26 October 2006 - 08:33

I have to agree with comments about Rosemeyer... clearly a star in the making at the time of his death, just a little more to learn from what you can gather through reading various tales of the time...

Definitely a more solid suggestion than names that are being mentioned in a more emotional way.

#18 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 7,188 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 26 October 2006 - 08:50

To respond to the original question, I think I'd have to say Guy Moll. I don't know all that much about his short career, but I do remember what Enzo Ferrari used to say about him. When asked as he often was, who was the greatest talent he'd seen, he used to reply "Nuvolari of course, and the only one who can be compared to him is Guy Moll". In later years apparently, his stock reply had changed to "Nuvolari of course and the only one who can be compared to him is Stirling Moss". I imagine that his exact wording probably depended to some extent on the nationality of the interviewer, but Tazio seems to have been a constant, and who could disagree with that?

#19 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 09:33

Thanks for all your great suggestions! I must admit BJ Swanson and Billy Foster are new to me soI plan to find out more about them.

Paul Warwick. 1991 was the first year I followed racing and Paul's death was the first I ever heard of. I remember at the time Autosport printed a nice tribute poster. My copy stayed on my wall for years. His record in F3000 that year was quite remarkable.

Advertisement

#20 sterling49

sterling49
  • Member

  • 10,814 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 15:40

My list is based on guys that I saw at Brands Hatch.......Boley Pittard, saw him race in an Alfa TZ? Really a great driver, Gunnar Nillson, lost to cancer at an early age, and of course Francois Cevert, who I believe had so much in store as he became Tyrell Team Leader. :cry:

#21 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,288 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 15:44

Originally posted by kevthedrummer
Paul Warwick. 1991 was the first year I followed racing and Paul's death was the first I ever heard of. I remember at the time Autosport printed a nice tribute poster. My copy stayed on my wall for years. His record in F3000 that year was quite remarkable.

To be fair, it was the British F3000 series, and Dave Coyne went on to dominate it in a similar manner. I never really got the impression that Paul was a superstar in the making, he seemed to struggle in F3.

George Amick was 2nd as a rookie at Indy. How good could he have been? And Frank Lockhart could have dominated the sport - a proto-Chapman-Clark-in-one.

#22 Zoe

Zoe
  • Member

  • 2,716 posts
  • Joined: July 99

Posted 26 October 2006 - 16:13

How about the Gonzales(?) brothers? I sadly forgot the names of them (my memory is becoming BAD with age)

Iirc one was killed in F3000 (I think I even saw that race) when his car flipped and landed upside down on a wall, drivers helmet first. The older brother was running in CART when he had a fatal accident at the corkscrew in Laguna Seca.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Zoe

#23 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 17:00

Originally posted by Zoe
How about the Gonzales(?) brothers? I sadly forgot the names of them (my memory is becoming BAD with age)

Iirc one was killed in F3000 (I think I even saw that race) when his car flipped and landed upside down on a wall, drivers helmet first. The older brother was running in CART when he had a fatal accident at the corkscrew in Laguna Seca.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Zoe


I think the F3000 accident you're thinking of is probably the one which cost Marco Campos his life at Magny Cours in 1995. He crashed on the final lap approaching the Adelaide hairpin after touching another car.

The CART accident was Gonzalo Rodriguez. You are correct. It happened at the Corkscrew in 1999.

#24 m.tanney

m.tanney
  • Member

  • 341 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 26 October 2006 - 17:03

Some good suggestions here. I'd certainly go along with Rosemeyer, Moore, Foster and Brise.
Foster was very highly rated by his friend Mario Andretti.
One name I would add to the list is Peter Ryan.

#25 Zoe

Zoe
  • Member

  • 2,716 posts
  • Joined: July 99

Posted 26 October 2006 - 17:37

Originally posted by kevthedrummer


I think the F3000 accident you're thinking of is probably the one which cost Marco Campos his life at Magny Cours in 1995. He crashed on the final lap approaching the Adelaide hairpin after touching another car.

The CART accident was Gonzalo Rodriguez. You are correct. It happened at the Corkscrew in 1999.


Right, it's Rodriguez not Gonzales :blush: Well, my memory isn't too good and I try to remember positive events more than fatal crashes as well (how's that for an excuse?)

Zoe

#26 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 17:56

Originally posted by Zoe


Right, it's Rodriguez not Gonzales :blush: Well, my memory isn't too good and I try to remember positive events more than fatal crashes as well (how's that for an excuse?)

Zoe


Sounds like a perfectly reasonable excuse to me! I have a nice signed picture of Gonzalo. It was such a shame, just after he'd landed the Penske drive.

#27 Macca

Macca
  • Member

  • 3,333 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 26 October 2006 - 18:13

Ricardo Rodriguez - he qualified 2nd for his first GP, only did six GPs in total, pushed Phil Hill in 1962...........what would he have done in the 1963 Ferrari alongside Surtees?


Paul M

#28 E.B.

E.B.
  • Member

  • 1,746 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 26 October 2006 - 18:45

Originally posted by ensign14 George Amick was 2nd as a rookie at Indy. How good could he have been? [/B]


I think he survived long enough to answer that. He had been around for quite a while on the Champ Car scene, and was in his mid-30s when he died - indeed he was older than the guy who beat him that day, the great Jimmy Bryan, for whom that Indy win was already his final career crowning glory.

My three picks would be Frank Lockhart, Pete Ryan and Dick Atkins. We only saw a tiny glimpse of what might have been.

#29 RTH

RTH
  • Member

  • 5,733 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 26 October 2006 - 19:00

Ronnie.

#30 O Volante

O Volante
  • Member

  • 291 posts
  • Joined: July 02

Posted 26 October 2006 - 19:05

Mike Thackwell.

In a sense, his F1 career did not end with his retirement from racing in 1987/1988, but with his aweful accident in practice for the Easter F2 race at Thruxton in 1981. Up to that point, everything in his rise had been meteorical ... but it took him almost two years to recover both physically and mentally - and that was, sadly, too long a time.

It still worries me.

#31 EcosseF1

EcosseF1
  • Member

  • 144 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 26 October 2006 - 19:07

Bellof (much discussed I know...), and Henri Toivonen, who could have been just as quick on circuits as in forests, IMHO.

#32 Sergio Sultani

Sergio Sultani
  • Member

  • 140 posts
  • Joined: January 06

Posted 26 October 2006 - 19:27

José Carlos Pace and Ignazio Giunti.

#33 corrado

corrado
  • New Member

  • 12 posts
  • Joined: March 02

Posted 26 October 2006 - 21:30

I think Stefan Bellof, Ricardo Rodriguez and surely Ignazio Giunti. Then an other italian Bruno Deserti that died in Monza in 1965.

#34 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,288 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 26 October 2006 - 22:21

If you compare the F1 records of Bellof and Brundle when at Tyrrell, they are both remarkably similar...in fact Brundle's record was better, he had a 2nd and when Stefan was 4th at Detroit in 1985 that was partly because the clueless Alliot had taken Martin out when Martin was ahead.

#35 David M. Kane

David M. Kane
  • Member

  • 5,399 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 26 October 2006 - 23:22

All of them...particularly Ricardo R., let's not forget Koennigg.

#36 HistoricMustang

HistoricMustang
  • Member

  • 4,076 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 26 October 2006 - 23:28

Certainly Dave MacDonald would be on this list and he is not going anywhere!

Also, Glenn Roberts, who tried desperately to move NASCAR toward the road circuit venue.

Henry

Posted Image

#37 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,168 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 06:05

Originally posted by kevthedrummer
Thanks for all your great suggestions! I must admit BJ Swanson and Billy Foster are new to me soI plan to find out more about them.


I'll second Billy Foster, Dick Atkins and Frank Lockhart, but all names mentioned are worthy. Atkins was tabbed as Parnelli's replacement with Agajanian. Granted, Aggie's team did not do much after Parnelli, but one wonders how much Atkins' death took the wind from their sails.

As Brian mentioned, Billy Foster, not only led the USAC race at Fuji, but he passed Stewart and Graham Hill (!). Foster also nearly won the USAC race at Atlanta.

And B.J. Swanson. As RA Historian points out, an amazingly quick and tragically short ascendancy.

I still cringe when I think of ESPN's Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber laughingly talking about how "wacky" it was that Mid-Ohio didn't have the start and finish line at the same spot, when B.J. Swanson's accident played a role in moving the start line. I realize they were unaware, but joking about it...

From the Stock Car ranks let me add Tim Williamson and Bill Spencer. I don't know that Spencer had plans to advance beyond the short tracks, but had tremendous talent. Williamson was leaving for the NASCAR GN circuit with the fateful race at Riverside being his last on the West Coast before the move. Despite their ages (insignifigant at the time I might add) and being veterans, I feel Billy Wade and Jimmy Pardue were truly coming into their own.

#38 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,168 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 06:17

Originally posted by E.B.

quote:Originally posted by ensign14 George Amick was 2nd as a rookie at Indy. How good could he have been?


I think he survived long enough to answer that. He had been around for quite a while on the Champ Car scene, and was in his mid-30s when he died - indeed he was older than the guy who beat him that day, the great Jimmy Bryan, for whom that Indy win was already his final career crowning glory.


E.B. makes a great point ensign14, George Amick was 9th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd in points from 1955 through 1958 respectively with 3 career wins (and yes, I had to check for the exact figures, but I did recall him finishing well in the points for 3-4 years). I think the bigger question is why in the heck didn't he get a shot at Indianapolis in '56, or a better car to attempt to qualify in '57? Perhaps he was perceived as a "dirt only" driver, but with only two pavement tracks in the series at the time...if that was the case, why was Amick judged differently than his other contemporaries?

#39 2F-001

2F-001
  • Member

  • 2,276 posts
  • Joined: November 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:08

I'm not sure about greatest (or any other superlative), but I always thought Martin Donnelly was headed somewhere stellar.

Advertisement

#40 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,288 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:32

Originally posted by Jim Thurman


E.B. makes a great point ensign14, George Amick was 9th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd in points from 1955 through 1958 respectively with 3 career wins (and yes, I had to check for the exact figures, but I did recall him finishing well in the points for 3-4 years).

I knew he had the number 4 in his first Indy go, but he also had the 2nd with the Demler Spl, which IIRC was not the most financed car out there? And he was at the sharp end at Daytona when he was killed. He just seems to be totally forgotten when people talk about the Jack McGraths or Pat O'Connors of this world yet he showed he could pedal.

A bit off kilter, but how good were drivers like Prince Bira, who never won major Grands Prix because of WW2 getting inconveniently in the way?

And has Bill Ivy been mentioned?

#41 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,545 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:05

Originally posted by ensign14
And has Bill Ivy been mentioned?


Given the comments made by Stewart, Hill and co., he'd have to be high on the list surely?

#42 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Nostalgia Forum Moderator

  • 24,221 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:08

In period, Bira was considered at least the equal of Mays, although not quite on the same level as Seaman. Had the 1941 Formula gone ahead, I think he could have been a leading player - providing a decent works team had picked him up: even in 1938-9 Chula was having to cut back the White Mouse Equipe's racing programme for financial reasons and I don't believe they could have afforded to step up to a full Grand Prix campaign, even if they'd cut out the more minor races. And what would they have run anyway? (Answering my own question, they might have gone the same route as Reggie Tongue, who was in negotiations to buy an Alfetta ...)

I specified the 1941 Formula because I don't think he was seriously considered by the GP teams in the 30s - partly for political/racial reasons and partly because he was very slightly built and might not have been able to handle the cars (and yes, I know Nuvolari was no giant!)

Other lost talents not yet mentioned: David Bruce-Brown, Pat Fairfield and Johnny Wakefield.

#43 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,288 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:46

Originally posted by Vitesse2
And what would they have run anyway? (Answering my own question, they might have gone the same route as Reggie Tongue, who was in negotiations to buy an Alfetta ...)

After Hitler's humiliation in Munich in 1938, he sacked Schacht and the German economy went tits up. Rampant inflation led to the Nazis resorting to more and more odious tactics to keep order until a mass riot, following an inflammatory sermon by Cardinal Faulhauber in front of a crowd of 250,000 in Munich, led to the mass murder by the SS of many German protesters.

Unwilling to cede control to the mob, the German army, under Rommel, retreated from the Rhineland in concert with French forces under de Gaulle. Hitler was deposed and imprisoned for life in Spandau. At the following free elections Schacht was elected Chancellor and one of his early acts to get the German economy moving again was to generate foreign income from the sale of some German state-owned assets. One of the beneficiaries was the Siamese government, which purchased a 10% share in Mercedes; part of the deal was that Bira was given a Mercedes works drive in the new "voiturette" Grand Prix formula. The irony was not lost on the world when an Asian driver won the European championship in Germany...

#44 Zoe

Zoe
  • Member

  • 2,716 posts
  • Joined: July 99

Posted 27 October 2006 - 15:10

I think you got something confused there ensign; Schacht was never a German chancellor.

Zoe

#45 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 7,188 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 27 October 2006 - 15:17

Originally posted by Zoe
I think you got something confused there ensign; Schacht was never a German chancellor.

Zoe


True, but he was Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank. The first post wasn't too dissimilar from a UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, though auf Deutsch, 'Kanzler' means something quite different of course.

#46 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,288 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 27 October 2006 - 15:32

Schacht basically ran the German economy in the 30s. And was arrested by the Allies in a concentration camp. IMO it's not outrageously unreasonable to suggest that, if the German economy turned bad after Hitler failed with his takeover bids and after Hjalmar Horace Greeley had been given the elbow, Schacht would have been seen as a suitable constitutional Head of Government by the German people?

I suppose technically we're going OT but Schacht could be considered a lost talent...

#47 Paolo

Paolo
  • Member

  • 1,673 posts
  • Joined: May 00

Posted 27 October 2006 - 15:50

Between F1 entrants, Mike Thackwell, Stefan Bellof.
Also Marco Campos, died very young while in junior formulae because of an incredibly stupid accident (a steel bar crossing the raceway, used to prevent usage of the circuit when closed was left in place when the poor boy went out testing) . Was considered full of potential.
I'd like to remember here also the late Sandro Corsini, Formula Junior Champion in Italy and racecar builder.
As much talented as a driver as an engineer, lost in a race accident in 1998.
He never had the money to step up in higher categories but for rare forays, a sad example of how the economical side of our sport often prevails on talent.

#48 kayemod

kayemod
  • Member

  • 7,188 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 27 October 2006 - 18:38

Originally posted by ensign14
...but Schacht could be considered a lost talent...


So he was a racing driver, as well as running Adolf's economy?

#49 kevthedrummer

kevthedrummer
  • Member

  • 479 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 27 October 2006 - 18:59

Originally posted by Paolo

Also Marco Campos, died very young while in junior formulae because of an incredibly stupid accident (a steel bar crossing the raceway, used to prevent usage of the circuit when closed was left in place when the poor boy went out testing) .


I mentioned in a previous post that Marco Campos died in a racing accident at Magny Cours in 1995. With reference to the 'steel bar' accident, might this be the driver you are thinking of?

http://www.motorspor...hp?db=ct&n=1584

#50 flat-16

flat-16
  • Member

  • 478 posts
  • Joined: December 04

Posted 28 October 2006 - 19:48

It’s surprising to see how far we’ve gone into this thread without that dreadful F3000 crash at Brands in 1988 being mentioned… Maybe too obvious? I can’t help but think GB was deprived of a potential F1 champion on that day. He got back in his stride and won a few races, not to mention Le Mans, but one got the impression he was never quite 100% from thereon in.

Justin