Successful Australian racer and car builder Frank Matich died in May, shortly after his 80th birthday. Though he never drove in Formula 1, he raced against the F1 aces in the Tasman series, winning five times in his Brabham BT7A and impressing them enough to uniquely earn membership of the Grand Prix Drivers Association. Jim Clark recalled a Tasman dice with Matich as one of the best of his career.
Winner of many Australian titles, Matich maximised a natural talent at the wheel through his engineering training, constantly honing and improving his cars and going on to design and build sports cars and F5000 single-seaters under his own name. In these and a McLaren-Repco M10 he had further success, scoring two Australian and one New Zealand GP victories in 1971-2 and the 1972 Australian Drivers Championship.
Following injuries from a boating accident he retired from racing in 1974, concentrating on a range of automotive and engineering businesses.
Journalist and racer Denise McCluggage, who has died aged 88, lived a life centred around cars. After learning to drive at 14, McCluggage became a newspaper sports journalist in San Francisco and quickly homed in on skiing and car racing.
A co-founder of the paper that became Autoweek, she raced MG, Jaguar, Porsche and Ferrari cars in the 1950s and ’60s, scoring GT class wins at Sebring and in the Monte Carlo Rally wearing her polka-dot helmet.
Friends with all the major names in American racing and syndicated across the US, she was the first journalist to be elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame, won several automotive journalism awards, and wrote books on skiing and car racing. She remained an Autoweek contributor to the end.
Former racer Renzo Zorzi has died aged 68. After scoring a surprise Monaco F3 win in 1975, the Italian went on to contest a couple of Grands Prix with Frank Williams before funds ran dry and he returned to F3. Fresh sponsorship enabled him to secure another F1 seat with Shadow in 1977, when he scored a point in Brazil, but he was dropped after Spain to make way for Riccardo Patrese. He was also indirectly involved in the fatal accident to team-mate Tom Pryce at Kyalami. It was Zorzi’s stranded car a marshal was trying to reach when he ran over the track into Pryce’s path, killing both.
After F1, Zorzi competed in sports car events, including Le Mans, making a one-off appearance in the Aurora F1 series, at Monza in 1980.