Obituaries

 

Günther Schmid  -  Charismatic if volatile F1 team boss

This German owner of two Formula One teams has died, aged 72, after fighting a brain tumour for more than two years.

Hans-Günther Schmid, the boss of the hugely successful ATS wheels empire, began racing in Formula Vee in 1966 and was to be team-mate to a young Niki Lauda for a spell. After competing in Super Vee he started running racing teams and became a Lola agent.

In 1977 he bought a '76 Penske chassis and ATS entered F1. First time out at Long Beach, Jean-Pierre Jarier scored a point for the squad. ATS then effectively bought the March team in '78 and became a constructor in its own right. Although there were flashes of promise -- with young guns such as Keke Rosberg, Jan Lammers, Marc Surer, Gerhard Berger and Manfred Winkelhock on board -- the team never bettered fifth place in a race and folded at the end of the '84 season.

But Schmid was back in 1988. this time with a team named after the Rial wheel business he had taken over. This stint lasted two years and was again unsuccessful,  although Andrea de Cesaris and Christian Danner both managed surprise fourth-place finishes.

More than his results, Schmid is best remembered as a man who was charming -- as long as you didn't work for him. His rages were legendary (he once stamped on and broke a front wing developed without his permission!) and he hired and fired team managers with alarming regularity. --  MS

***

Chris Nixon  -  Renowned motor racing historian

His sudden death at 67 ends the prolific output of a leading motorsport historian.

A staff man on Autosport  in the early '60s, Chris Nixon moved to the film industry before becoming a full-time author. His technique was to root out people who'd lived through the story he was writing and travel the world to visit them, so his books combined detailed research with fresh personal insight.

After his two-volume Racing with David Brown's Aston-Martins came Mon Ami Mate, a marvellous double biography of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. Nixon's love of the '30s Mercedes and Auto Union battles produced Racing the Silver Arrows  and Shooting Star, a biography of Dick Seaman. Others included Sportscar Heaven and Rivals, on the Lancia D50 and Mercedes W196. In April came Kings of the Nürburgring. Chris lived in Twickenham and was at his keyboard working on his next book when he suffered a heart attack. -- ST