Karl Kling

This team-mate to Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mercedes grand prix team has passed away at the age of 92. Initially a successful sportscar racer with the Stuttgart marque, he went on to become its head of motorsports.

Kling’s career began in hill-climbs before WWII while working for Mercedes as a clerk. Despite a serious back injury, he resumed competition after hostilities ended and was German sportscar champion in 1948-49, before switching to Formula Two.

That led to a chance to join the Mercedes sportscar team and, in 1952, he won the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico and finished second in the Mille Miglia in a 300SL Gullwing.

He briefly moved to Alfa Romeo, but when Mercedes re-entered GP racing in 1954 Kling was brought back and contested 11 world championship races for the team. Second to Fangio in that year’s French Grand Prix at Reims in the W196 proved to be his best result, but he did win the non-points Berlin GP at Avus.

With Fangio and Moss in the team in 1955, Kling was less prominent. The year’s highlight was shadowing his team mates home in the British GP, part of a crushing Mercedes 1-2-3-4.

Kling, aged 40, then moved into team management, taking over from the legendary Alfred Neubauer, and he oversaw rallying activities for Mercedes until his retirement.


Ian Connell

He never pretended to be anything other than an amateur, but he raced some exotic machinery at the highest level during a career that took him took him all over Europe either side of the war.

Connell, a contemporary of Richard Seaman at Cambridge, first raced at Brooklands in an Austin during 1934 and his maiden year of competition encompassed the Le Mans 24 Hours and Alpine Rally! He quickly moved up to a Vale Special sportscar, which he raced in the BRDC 500 at Brooklands in 1935, and then ERA R6B.

The latter car was used through the 1937 and ’38 seasons. He claimed second behind Prince Bira in the ’37 London GP at Crystal Palace and finished a creditable eighth, with Peter Monkhouse, in the ’38 Donington GP. He also raced a Darracq and shared Rob Walker’s Delahaye at Le Mans.

Post-war, Connell bought ERA ‘Remus’ and competed until 1948, after which he concentrated on a successful business career.


Victor Gauntlett

British motorsport lost a staunch supporter when Victor Gauntlett died suddenly, aged 60, at the end of March. His passion led him to race a Bentley in historic events, back Nigel Mansell in his early years and, as the boss of Aston Martin, twice take the Newport Pagnell marque back to the Le Mans 24 Hours.

A former RAF pilot who made his fortune in petro-chemicals, Gauntlett first invested in Aston in 1980 and took the reins the following year. In ’82 he part-funded Robin Hamilton’s Nimrod team and his Pace Petroleum company sponsored Viscount Downe’s example of the Aston Martin-powered Group C car.

At the end of the 1980s Gauntlett launched a more ambitious return to racing but, having sold Aston to Ford, the project didn’t survive the Blue Oval’s take-over of Jaguar at the end of ’89.


Jean-Luc Lagardère

The force behind the Matra automotive and aerospace company has died at the age of 75.

Lagardère built Matra into a major motorsporting force, winning the 1969 F1 world title with Jackie Stewart and then Le Mans three years running from 1972.

He had quickly expanded Matra after taking over Bonnet in the early 1960s. Its in-house racing team disappeared equally swiftly after its third Le Mans win. But Matra continued — supplying F1 engines to Ligier until 1982— only to close earlier this year.


Sammy Packard

The final survivor of the 1947 meeting at Daytona Beach that led to the formation of NASCAR has died at his home in Florida at the age of 83. After a career as a stock-car and sprint-car racer, he became a car-builder and team owner.


Fermin Velez

This accomplished sportscar driver, who claimed a series of major titles, has died after a long illness. He was 43.

The Spaniard graduated to the international sportscar scene in 1986 and claimed Group C2 honours with Gordon Spice the following year. He repeated the feat with Chamberlain Engineering two years later.

In America he became one of the leading drivers of Ferrari’s 333SP, winning the outright IMSA title in 1995.