This Southern African racing star and 1962 British Saloon Car Champion died in April. He was 80. Accomplished in every category of the sport, John Love will likely be remembered for almost causing the greatest upset in Formula One history during the ’67 South African Grand Prix. But for a late pitstop for fuel, he and his outdated Cooper T79 would have taken the victory.
Love was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. on December 4 1924. 0n leaving technical college he enrolled as an electrical fitter before serving in the Southern Rhodesia Armoured Car Division during WWII, also seeing action in Palestine with the Royal Scottish Fusiliers. During the war he developed a taste for speed, sometimes acting as a dispatch rider while on duty in Italy. This taste was carried over into peacetime, when he competed on dirt tracks with a half-litre Rudge from 1947.
Love moved over to four wheels in 1954, buying a Cooper-JAP after raising funds by dealing in ex-government motorcycles. Aboard this car, along with other Coopers and the Jennings-Riley, Love made a name for himself. He made his way to Europe and the Fitzwilliam Formula Junior squad: then a switch to Ken Tyrrell’s team resulted in great success in the category, along with the works Mini Coopers in saloons. Unfortunately, a huge accident at Albi ended with a broken arm so he missed out on an F1 test with Cooper.
The first of Love’s South African F1 titles came in 1964. He would add five more. Though he competed in World Championship GPs on nine occasions all in the South African event he only once finished in the points: second in that remarkable ’67 race. In addition, Love was a talented sportscar driver and often a front-runner in the Springbok series, winning the 1971-2 title after sharing a Lola T212 with current Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko. — RH
One of the largest characters of American rallying — in every sense — died in April. His place in the Hall of Fame was guaranteed when he won a round of the FIA’s International Rally Championship for Makes, the forerunner of the WRC, in a four-wheel-drive Jeep, nicknamed Moby Dick since it was large and white. That was the Press on Regardless Rally of 1972. Later Gene ran adventure rallies such as the Alcan and his own rally shop, Competition Limited. — JDFD
An Indy 500 star who died in April, aged 87. As the defending AAA midgets champion, this WWII veteran finished fifth on his maiden outing at the Brickyard in 1952, becoming the inaugural Rookie of the Year in the process. A year later this hard-charger was runner-up to winner Bill Vukovich and used his £27,297 prize money to buy a farm in La Porte, Indiana. He hung up his helmet in 1955 after finishing fourth in his last race, at Milwaukee. — RH
This car dealer, who raced powerful single-seaters in the 1970s (culminating in a Hesketh 308 in ’77), was killed in a road crash in France over May Day weekend. The founder of the DC Cook motor-trade empire, he won the ’80 Formula Talbot title, then proudly oversaw son David’s success in the ’96 British F-Renault series. Cook’s daughter Paula is also a noted racer, while the DC Cook team’s Renault Laguna won the ’98 BTCC independents’ title in the hands of Tommy Rustad. — MS
Cliff Allison, who died aged 73 in early April, never got the recognition that his ability and achievements merited.
This Northumbrian goes down in history as the first man ever to score a Formula One World Championship point for Lotus, was a World Sportscar winner for Ferrari and, with the Italian team, set the quickest qualifying time for the 1959 German GP at the superfast Avus circuit.
Allison’s father and uncle were both motorcycle racers, and Cliff, who even during the height of his career carried on working with the family farming and garage businesses, began his own exploits in F3 in 1952. By ’54 he was a winner, gaining a tag as one of the most promising young Britons around, and he joined the Lotus sportscar team in ’57. Successes came quickly, including victory in the Index of Performance at the Le Mans 24 Hours, in which he shared a 744cc Climax-powered XI with Ken Hall.
Allison and Graham Hill made their World Championship F1 debuts in the 1958 Monaco GP as team-mates, driving converted year-old Lotus 12s. Only six cars finished: Allison brought up the rear, but that was his and the company’s first F1 point. He repeated the result in the next race (the Dutch GP), and then took a superb fourth in the Belgian GP at Spa. The top three finishers were all seriously hobbled at the finish — with one more lap Allison could have won.
As a friend of Mike Hawthorn, Allison was recruited by Ferrari for ’59. He drove for Enzo for two years, commuting from Darlington station to Heathrow by train and taxi, then on to Milan by plane and a further train to Modena! His biggest success was in the 1960 Buenos Aires 1000Km, where he shared a 250 Testa Rossa to victory with Phil Hill. Sadly, that German GP ‘pole’ in ’59 (aided by a tow) led to nothing — he was only a reserve so started from the back before retiring with clutch failure.
Buenos Aires also brought his best F1 result, second behind Bruce McLaren’s Cooper, but he had a big shunt in qualifying for the Monaco GP and was in a coma for two weeks (on waking up he was able to speak French, a language he previously had no skill in!). Allison was back in ’61 with a UDT Laystall Lotus, but rolled out of the Belgian GP and broke his legs.
Returning to his business, Allison made only a few trips to races thereafter, preferring to concentrate on life in the North East including a stint driving a school bus in his native Brough. — MS
This American sportscar ace died in March, aged 83. Leslie was a late starter in circuit racing, although he had been involved in the embryonic hot-rodding scene in the late 1930s. Leslie first raced in ’57. Early successes included class honours in the ’63 Sebring 12 Hours, sharing Kjell Qvale’s Jaguar E-type with Frank Morrill. He later drove for Mercury Team Cougar and Team Penske in Trans-Am and was second in the ’69 Daytona 24 Hours aboard James Garner’s AIR Lola T70. — RH
Prince Rainier of Monaco
His Serene Highness Prince Rainier of Monaco died in April. He was 81. While the Monaco GP had been run prior to his accession in 1949, it was he who established it as the race in the calendar that every driver wanted to add to his CV.
The consummate motorsport enthusiast, the Prince usually did a lap of honour before the Monaco round and dished out the trophies. He also built up a sizeable collection of road and racing machinery which was later opened to the public. — RH
Martin Donnelly Snr
Motor racing’s celestial pub will have livened up considerably in the past month with the arrival of Martin Donnelly Snr.
A significant figure on the Northern Irish racing scene, Donnelly raced sportscars, saloons and — briefly — Formula Ford before providing support to up-and-coming drivers. Most famous among these was his own son, Martin Jr, whom he cheered all the way to F1, and then kept a bedside vigil as he recovered from his severe 1990 Spanish GP injuries.– MS