Chris Irwin

Full Name:
Christopher Frank Stuart Irwin
Born:
27th June 1942 (Age 76)
Wandsworth, London
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Chris Irwin was a driver of some promise whose life was changed by a horrific accident at the Nürburgring in 1968.

Early racing career and Grand Prix debut

He began racing earlier that decade and came to prominence in 1964 racing a red Merlyn Mk7-Ford in his first full season of Formula 3. Late victories led to third place in that year’s Grovewood Awards for up-and-coming Commonwealth drivers.

Irwin graduated to Formula 2 with a Chequered Flag Merlyn in 1965 and joined the works Brabham team a year later for a mix of F2 and F3. He also qualified an old Brabham BT11-Climax in 12th position for his Grand Prix debut in the 1966 British GP and finished seventh. He married Charles Lucas' sister that October and was mentioned as a possible Brabham driver for 1967 should Denny Hulme decide to leave the new world champions.

Promising Formula 1 privateer

In the event, 1967 provided a mix of Formula 1, F2 and sports cars. Irwin drove Reg Parnell Racing’s Lotus 33-BRM in the Dutch GP and impressed in qualifying. His reward was a semi-works BRM P83 in which he was classified fifth in the French GP despite losing his clutch at the start and his engine failing on the last lap. A works Lola driver in F2 and sports cars, Irwin qualified on pole position at Hockenheim and was third at Járama in F2. He also raced at Le Mans for the only time.

It had been a promising year but with no F1 drive for 1968 Irwin continued in F2 and sports cars. He experienced the best and worst of racing at the Nürburgring that year. Victory in the F2 Eifelrennen with a works Lola T100-Ford was followed by a huge accident at the Flugplatz while practising for the 1000Kms.

His Alan Mann’s Ford PL3 crashed end-over-end and Irwin suffered severe head injuries. He was on life support for 10 days and recuperation was a lengthy process. An epileptic thereafter, he was not seen at a race meeting again until a surprise visit to Thruxton in 2008 for its 40th anniversary.

Championship seasons