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Longest, safest career?


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#1 Andrew Hope

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Posted 27 November 2018 - 22:09

As anyone in this part of the forum is well aware one of the more disgusting things the racing gods do is to take drivers who are not only still years before the prime of their career, but have barely even begun to live life yet. Twice in the 1970s, a fine young man was killed horribly in only his second race. That's just in F1.

But let's consider something more pleasant. For every young man that those same gods take, a dozen inexplicably grow old. Men like Ghinzani, Beltoise, and countless others had even more countless narrow escapes. Some drivers have zoomed past dozens of serious accidents without ever suffering any themselves.

Who would you say, in terms of having a long career and injuries escaped, might be the luckiest of all? Has there been somebody whose career spanned decades at racing speed, and for whom blisters were their most fearsome injury? I'm not speaking of luck in terms of success but in terms of a fantastically dangerous sports treating particular people exceptionally delicately.

Edited by Andrew Hope, 27 November 2018 - 22:13.


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#2 Bob Riebe

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Posted 27 November 2018 - 22:18

I do not believe in luck and when God calls your markers in you're gone --  but Steve Kinser drove cars, for a long time, in a category still has fatal casualties often.

Any one who rides motorcycles in true road races, and live to be a fairly healthy old man, fits what you are looking for also.



#3 Altitude

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Posted 27 November 2018 - 22:50

Surely Mario Andretti must rank very highly in this case.

Edited by Altitude, 27 November 2018 - 22:51.


#4 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 00:15

Jack Brabham would bear mention in this regard. He raced 22 years professionally, 3 WDC titles, 14 WC GP wins as well as countless races in other series.  He managed to avoid serious injury through it all. His most serious crash was at the Goodwood Revival 1999, long after he had hung up his helmet. He survived this accident as well and continued on for a few more years. A very distinguished and safe career.


Edited by D28, 28 November 2018 - 00:16.


#5 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 00:44

Jack had a very dangerous crash in 1960 at Oporto, IIRC...

 

Minimal injuries but a great risk of electrocution from fallen power lines. And didn't he also injure himself in a testing accident in 1967? Or was that 1965?

 

 

 

 

 

 

.


Edited by Ray Bell, 28 November 2018 - 00:53.


#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 00:54

Phil Hill was reckoned not to had a scratch during his career...

 

But it was a bit shorter. Retired in 1968? Started racing?



#7 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 01:28

Jack had a very dangerous crash in 1960 at Oporto, IIRC...

 

Minimal injuries but a great risk of electrocution from fallen power lines. And didn't he also injure himself in a testing accident in 1967? Or was that 1965?

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Jack mentions a bad accident testing at Silverstone 1969 (When The Flag Drops). He was trapped in the car on the banking, for over half an hour. He had to be cut out of the car and sustained a broken ankle which was screwed together permanently. This could have been much much worse as the danger of leaking fuel was prominent. The safety procedures in place for this testing session appear very casual.


Edited by D28, 28 November 2018 - 01:30.


#8 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 01:32

Phil Hill was reckoned not to had a scratch during his career...

 

But it was a bit shorter. Retired in 1968? Started racing?

1949 



#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 02:34

Is that the time he was bundled up in catch fence wire?

 

I'm sure he had another testing crash earlier.



#10 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 03:05

Is that the time he was bundled up in catch fence wire?

 

I'm sure he had another testing crash earlier.

No the wire fence wrapping happened at Zandvoort 1970 in another testing incident. He mentions the Oporto crash 1959, then the Siverstone incident 10 years on,  then Zandvoort. These incidents are related in a chapter The Dangerous Side Of The Game. Perhaps he left another incident out. He does describe the horrifying Indy crash of 64 where he had to drive  blindly through the fire.



#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 03:26

Oporto '59...

I should have remembered that as Masten Gregory was involved, he was no longer a team-mate in 1960.

How does Dan Gurney stack up?

#12 Rob G

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 03:35

Pre-WWII, Louis Wagner has to rank right up there. His front-line career stretched from 1903 to 1927, and I don't think he ever suffered any injuries in a race car, other than burned feet in the Delage oven on wheels.



#13 Andrew Hope

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 04:16

Altitude mentioned Mario Andretti: he was what I had in mind when I thought of the idea for the thread but I'm not familiar enough with his entire career to know whether or not they may have been one or two big ones he did not exactly walk away from. But I thought of him because whenever I stumble across pictures of Mario, I'm always amazed at how he raced for such a long time in such a dangerous game and is still around today. Like when you see pictures of him driving in 1969 in an image search, next to pictures of him driving 20 years later or more it really is quite incredible.

I do not believe in luck and when God calls your markers in you're gone -- but Steve Kinser drove cars, for a long time, in a category still has fatal casualties often.
Any one who rides motorcycles in true road races, and live to be a fairly healthy old man, fits what you are looking for also.


Great suggestion, how dare I forget Steve Kinser!

#14 Dave Ware

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 05:30

Hans Stuck Sr. comes to mind.  1923 to about 1960ish...granted with that intermission in the late '30s, early/mid forties...even so.  That's a long time.  Yes, a lot of that was hillclimbs, but that wasn't all that safe either. 



#15 E.B.

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 06:30

The look in Mario's eyes suggested that his Indy 1992 crash was extremely painful, even if not the worst injury suffered by an Andretti that day.

#16 Paul Parker

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 07:20

Jack Brabham would bear mention in this regard. He raced 22 years professionally, 3 WDC titles, 14 WC GP wins as well as countless races in other series.  He managed to avoid serious injury through it all. His most serious crash was at the Goodwood Revival 1999, long after he had hung up his helmet. He survived this accident as well and continued on for a few more years. A very distinguished and safe career.

 

He also suffered a nasty accident during testing at Silverstone in June 1969 with a broken ankle caused by a tyre failure.



#17 john aston

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 07:51

I do not believe in luck and when God calls your markers in you're gone --  but Steve Kinser drove cars, for a long time, in a category still has fatal casualties often.

Any one who rides motorcycles in true road races, and live to be a fairly healthy old man, fits what you are looking for also.

 You don't believe in luck but you do believe in God ? So God killed G Villeneuve, so it was nothing at all to do with his exuberance..? Or Jochen  Mass ? And He killed Pryce too then , not the marshal who ran across the track whose action  I had sort of assumed was the reason ? 

 

Stuff happens for reasons - tedious , mundane , catastrophic , obvious , subtle , simple or complex reasons . Divine intervention ? Nah. 



#18 garoidb

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 08:16

 You don't believe in luck but you do believe in God ? So God killed G Villeneuve, so it was nothing at all to do with his exuberance..? Or Jochen  Mass ? And He killed Pryce too then , not the marshal who ran across the track whose action  I had sort of assumed was the reason ? 

 

Stuff happens for reasons - tedious , mundane , catastrophic , obvious , subtle , simple or complex reasons . Divine intervention ? Nah. 

 

The implication of that idea is that participating in risky endeavors has no effect on the duration of your life (when your markers are called in). I can see why it is an attractive idea to people participating. I don't think it stands up to much scrutiny, though.  



#19 dgs

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 08:24

A full investigation of 224 accidents that Grand Prix drivers had during races or practice sessions (including Jack Brabham 1969, Silverstone) are covered in the booklet 'Grand Prix Accident Survey 1966-1972'  published by Jim Clark Foundation.

This is a detailed record that has details on the causes of the accidents, and in all cases gives race car type, most chassis numbers, weather conditions, etc. At end of booklet, are many statistical studies.

A worthwhile booklet to try and find a copy.    



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#20 E.B.

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 11:50

The implication of that idea is that participating in risky endeavors has no effect on the duration of your life (when your markers are called in). I can see why it is an attractive idea to people participating. I don't think it stands up to much scrutiny, though.


I remember reading Pedro Rodriguez justifying his "when your time's up it's up" philosophy based on a sample size of 2 - Nuvolari raced all the time and survived, Vukovich hardly raced at all yet was killed.

#21 JtP2

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 12:51

Top candidate in F1 has to be Alain Prost. Iirc has never rolled a car or broken a bone.



#22 E.B.

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 13:44

Didn't Prost break a bone or two in his Monaco 1982 crash?

#23 Michael Ferner

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 13:45

Not to mention Kyalami and Watkins Glen, twice in 1980 alone!

#24 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 14:35

Looking at the racing career of Jacques Villeneuve, he competed from 1988 till about 2016, 28 years, somewhere in some racing series,

Keeping within the criteria of the thread, I  don't recall many broken bones or serious accidents, in a certainly a long career. 



#25 opplock

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 14:39

Although I don't think he ever raced in Europe or North America KJ Smith deserves mention. He raced a Lotus 22 in the first meeting I attended in 1964, has competed in almost all NZGP held since then and aged 76 is still the man to beat in F5000 south of the Equator.  



#26 GazChed

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 15:51

While his Grand Prix career may have been relatively brief , the forty odd years of Derek Bell's career including well over twenty at the highest level of sportscar racing seem to have passed with relatively few injuries . Apart from being lightly singed while filming 'Le Mans' and also while driving a Ferrari 512 at Spa , a nasty accident while racing at Daytona in the early nineties , Derek seems to have suffered few injuries especially considering the period in which he started his career was probably one of the most dangerous .

Edited by GazChed, 28 November 2018 - 15:56.


#27 Burai

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 15:59

Looking at the racing career of Jacques Villeneuve, he competed from 1988 till about 2016, 28 years, somewhere in some racing series,

Keeping within the criteria of the thread, I  don't recall many broken bones or serious accidents, in a certainly a long career. 

 

This is where it gets messy. Germany 2006. Villeneuve injures his leg and can't compete in Hungary. Kubica subs, impresses everyone and BMW and Villeneuve fall out.

 

An injury that ended his F1 career, but not a career ending injury, if you catch my drift. 



#28 D28

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 16:32

This is where it gets messy. Germany 2006. Villeneuve injures his leg and can't compete in Hungary. Kubica subs, impresses everyone and BMW and Villeneuve fall out.

 

An injury that ended his F1 career, but not a career ending injury, if you catch my drift. 

Thanks. Wonder how serious that injury really was.



#29 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 16:52

I remember reading Pedro Rodriguez justifying his "when your time's up it's up" philosophy based on a sample size of 2 - Nuvolari raced all the time and survived, Vukovich hardly raced at all yet was killed.

 

While Vukovich had cut back his Championship racing to Indianapolis (as many others did), he raced countless times on the way up. There's a popular myth that he was just around a short time, because of his rather short time in the Indianapolis spotlight, but he'd begun racing hot rods in the early 1930s and raced midgets several nights a week from sometime in the 1930s through cessation in July 1942. He had raced a lot.



#30 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 17:00

I know some of the more strident here will be incredulous, but there have been quite a few oval racers, even back in the cloth helmet and no seat belt days, who emerged from lengthy careers relatively unscathed. I'm surprised Michael hasn't weighed in with some examples, but...

 

Henry Banks, it was often said the worst injury he suffered in 20+ years of racing was a broken nose from a rock kicked up off a dirt track surface.

 

Sam Hanks, aside from being flung from his car during practice at Indianapolis, where he suffered rather minor injuries (depending on what one reads), is another example 



#31 Jerry Entin

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 18:21

Someone who would qualify is Parnelli Jones. He started racing jalopies in 1950 and ended his racing career in 1973. Twenty-three years in all and not a day spent in a hospital, although he did suffer a burn on his arm during the 1964 Indy 500.



All research: Willem Oosthoek

Edited by Jerry Entin, 28 November 2018 - 18:22.


#32 Bob Riebe

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 18:36

 You don't believe in luck but you do believe in God ? So God killed G Villeneuve, so it was nothing at all to do with his exuberance..? Or Jochen  Mass ? And He killed Pryce too then , not the marshal who ran across the track whose action  I had sort of assumed was the reason ? 

 

Stuff happens for reasons - tedious , mundane , catastrophic , obvious , subtle , simple or complex reasons . Divine intervention ? Nah. 

As a person who has survived multiple incidents in which doctors said it is a miracle I am alive much less not crippled, ; unless you have been there, you will never understand.

Or as the doctor who was in charge when I had my first nasty said when I thanked him ---- we did nothing that has allowed you to walk out of here, you had better thank some one else.

There is a reason for everything but luck does not exist.

God saving one from one's stupidity can easily be a reason.

Then as I was told at a very young age, stupidity has just rewards and God may let one reap them also.



#33 Tim Murray

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 18:50

We should all respect the religious views of others even if we disagree with them. However, TNF is not the place for discussing religion - there are plenty of threads in the Paddock Club devoted to the subject, so please take any further discussion there. Thanks. :)

#34 E.B.

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 19:24

While Vukovich had cut back his Championship racing to Indianapolis (as many others did), he raced countless times on the way up. There's a popular myth that he was just around a short time, because of his rather short time in the Indianapolis spotlight, but he'd begun racing hot rods in the early 1930s and raced midgets several nights a week from sometime in the 1930s through cessation in July 1942. He had raced a lot.


In fairness I think Pedro was referring to his much slimmed down schedule at the time of his death - indeed the fact he survived his busy early career actually helps support his point!

#35 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 19:27

I remember reading Pedro Rodriguez justifying his "when your time's up it's up" philosophy based on a sample size of 2 - Nuvolari raced all the time and survived, Vukovich hardly raced at all yet was killed.

 

 

Vukovich hardly raced in the last years of his career when he won Indy but before that, and where, and how intense.....



#36 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 20:23

Someone who would qualify is Parnelli Jones. He started racing jalopies in 1950 and ended his racing career in 1973. Twenty-three years in all and not a day spent in a hospital, although he did suffer a burn on his arm during the 1964 Indy 500.



All research: Willem Oosthoek

 

Parnelli proclaimed his scariest accident a nasty barrel roll in a jalopy at, IIRC, Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. I believe he rolled much of the straight. I believe he broke his nose in the mishap.



#37 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 20:27

In fairness I think Pedro was referring to his much slimmed down schedule at the time of his death - indeed the fact he survived his busy early career actually helps support his point!

 

Fair point. So many drivers cut back to Indianapolis only (or primarily), which was at much higher speeds and likely more dangerous, but at least paid far better.

 

Vukovich hardly raced in the last years of his career when he won Indy but before that, and where, and how intense.....

 

I can answer that Henri. The California midget circuit, mainly with URA during post-WWII. And it was intense. Keep in mind that by the time he reached Indianapolis, he'd been racing for 13 years!*

 

*obviously, from July 1942-August 1945 there was no racing due to wartime cessation.



#38 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 21:45

As daft as it sounds, Andrea de Cesaris, technically, has to be one of the safest drivers around. Crash after crash after crash, but walked away from the vast majority (if not nearly all) of them.

 

Riccardo Patrese also had a mammoth career with few major injuries.



#39 Glengavel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 21:49

Was Frank Gardner ever injured? His driving career spanned about 25 years, albeit with some gaps. His policy of "not wanting to be the fastest driver, just wanting to be the oldest" probably paid off.  :) 



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#40 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 22:45

Frank Gardner certainly did have a bad one somewhere or other...

Late in his life the aftermath of it saw his ankles permanently bandaged and he used a mobility scooter at times.

#41 Thundersports

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 00:42

Tony Trimmer still active now after 50 odd years no injuries i'm aware of.



#42 Rob G

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 01:04

Looking at the racing career of Jacques Villeneuve, he competed from 1988 till about 2016, 28 years, somewhere in some racing series,

Keeping within the criteria of the thread, I  don't recall many broken bones or serious accidents, in a certainly a long career. 

 

He walked away from several massive accidents.He cut Hiro Matsushita's car in half on the Phoenix oval during a CART race, destroyed his BAR in a monumental crash at Eau Rouge, and he flew over Ralf Schumacher's Williams into a barrier in the Melbourne accident that claimed the life of a marshal.



#43 Bob Riebe

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 03:11

I am going to go with Steve Kinser probably as number one.

He raced and won in sprint cars from 1973-2014.

He retired in 2016.

 

Kinser was lucky and didn’t sustain any long-term injuries during his career. The only major injury that Kinser could recall was a hyper-extended elbow, that left him out of the car for just a month in the 1980’s. “I’ve been pretty fortunate,” Kinser said. Though, nothing really threatened Kinser.


Edited by Bob Riebe, 29 November 2018 - 03:20.


#44 TerryS

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 03:25

Frank Gardner certainly did have a bad one somewhere or other...Late in his life the aftermath of it saw his ankles permanently bandaged and he used a mobility scooter at times.


Gardner had a big crash in a Lola T300 at Levin NZ in 1972.

#45 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 09:12

Fair point. So many drivers cut back to Indianapolis only (or primarily), which was at much higher speeds and likely more dangerous, but at least paid far better.
 
 
I can answer that Henri. The California midget circuit, mainly with URA during post-WWII. And it was intense. Keep in mind that by the time he reached Indianapolis, he'd been racing for 13 years!*
 
*obviously, from July 1942-August 1945 there was no racing due to wartime cessation.



Jim, I think my comment was ill phrased and not well understood. I have read about Vuky's career before he came to Idy and how he was rated as a bad### in his early career. That was what I tried to indicate but I did it not correct. Sorry for that
Thanks for correcting/adding. It is truly ironic that in a time his career was nearly over but for Indy, after years in which he could have been seriously injured more often or worse, he got off unscatched to shine at Indy and....

#46 subh

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 12:50

Ken Smith seems to have been racing for a long time. I don’t know much about him, therefore whether he’s had any injuries.

#47 MCS

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 13:43

Tony Trimmer still active now after 50 odd years no injuries i'm aware of.

 

Probably true, but a thumping accident at Mallory Park whilst subbing for an absent van Lennep at Mallory early 1973 in the ShellSport Lola T330 must have hurt - I think he took most if not all of the wheels off on cold tyres exiting Gerards...



#48 opplock

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 16:12

Mention of Phil Hill and Jack Brabham prompted me to the thought that Ken Smith must be the only person to have raced against drivers who competed in the World Championship in 1958 (Phil Hill, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill) and 2018 (Brendan Hartley). He also raced against Daniil Kvyat who drove for one or other of the Red Bull F1 teams between 2014 and 2017 and will be back in an Toro Rosso for 2019 unless he falls out with Dr Marko before March.

 

Smith is almost certainly the only driver to have competed against both Graham Hill and grandson Josh.    



#49 noriaki

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 13:25

Mention of Phil Hill and Jack Brabham prompted me to the thought that Ken Smith must be the only person to have raced against drivers who competed in the World Championship in 1958 (Phil Hill, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill) and 2018 (Brendan Hartley). He also raced against Daniil Kvyat who drove for one or other of the Red Bull F1 teams between 2014 and 2017 and will be back in an Toro Rosso for 2019 unless he falls out with Dr Marko before March.

 

Smith is almost certainly the only driver to have competed against both Graham Hill and grandson Josh.    

 

Impressive, yet not quite as rare a feat as you might think. Off the top of my head, Emmo (raced vs Brabham, Hill in the World Championship at least & Hartley in the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo 2014) can claim the same, and Martin Brundle raced both Stirling Moss (BTCC) and Hartley (Le Mans 2012) linking both 1951 and 2018. I'm sure there are more. 

 

Also, if we count A.J. Foyt's Indy start in 1958 as "world championship" - then Buddy Lazier *certainly* has raced Indycars against both him and Fernando Alonso, as well as Paul Tracy who connects Foyt and Hartley (2013 Rolex Sports Cars) not to mention the several NASCAR drivers who connect Foyt's late career runs in the mid-nineties and Raikkonen's two outings in 2011. 


Edited by noriaki, 30 November 2018 - 13:29.


#50 Charlieman

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 13:41

Men like Ghinzani, Beltoise, and countless others had even more countless narrow escapes.

Beltoise was a former motorcycle racer (ouch). He crushed an arm in a sports car race in 1964. For almost all of his four wheel racing career, Beltoise was partially disabled in one arm.