Chuck Daigh

Full Name:
Charles George Daigh
Born:
29th November 1923
Long Beach, California
Died:
29th April 2008 (Aged 84)
Newport Beach, California
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Chuck Daigh became the first, and so far only, American to win the United States Grand Prix when his Scarab-Chevrolet beat Phil Hill’s Ferrari in the inaugural event in 1958. That was a minor sports car race at Riverside but his place in the record books remains nonetheless.

Background and early racing career

A paratrooper during World War II, he started racing a Frazer Nash in 1953. Success driving a modified Kurtis sports car followed and he was an engineer with Lance Reventlow’s Scarab concern by the time of that US GP triumph. 1958 also included victory in the Bahamas when he beat Pedro Rodríguez’s Ferrari in the Nassau Trophy.

Invited to join Ferrari for the 1959 Sebring 12 Hours, he shared a 250TR with Dan Gurney in the uncharacteristic Florida rain. They were joined by stars Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien after the sister car retired early and the quartet won by a lap in what was Daigh’s highest profile success.

Formula 1 with Scarab

Scarab designed a front-engine Formula 1 car for 1960 with Reventlow and Daigh as drivers. It was old-fashioned and off the pace. Daigh qualified twice and finished 10th in his home GP. He also arranged a one-off in a works Cooper T51-Climax at the British GP but retired once more.

Daigh and Scarab briefly reappeared in the short-lived Intercontinental formula in 1961 although they showed no greater turn of speed despite finishing seventh in the International Trophy at Silverstone. However, Daigh injured his pelvis during practice for the British Empire Trophy at the same track and neither driver nor marque competed in Europe again.

Fit again for the start of 1962, he failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 (for the second time). His Lotus 19-Climax beat Jim Hall and Dan Gurney in the 1963 Player’s 200 at Mosport Park for what was his final major victory. He continued to work as an engineer until past retirement age.

Championship seasons