Cliff Allison

Full Name:
Henry Clifford Allison
Born:
8th February 1932
Brough, Cumbria
Died:
7th April 2005 (Aged 73)
Brough, Cumbria
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Educated at Appleby Grammar School, Cliff Allison was an excellent athlete who later rode as an amateur jockey. But this son of a garage owner had already chosen his future calling – using the winnings from a horse race to buy a Formula 3 Cooper Mk4 in 1952.

Le Mans success and Formula 1 with Lotus

Early success led to an invitation to join Team Lotus for 1955 when he was a leading contender in national sports cars. Three years with the team included victory in the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957.

Lotus graduated to the Formula 1 World Championship at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix with Allison and Graham Hill chosen as drivers. Hill retired from the race but Allison’s Lotus 12-Climax finished just outside the points in sixth position. He repeated the result at Zandvoort before being an impressive fourth in the Belgian GP.

Ferrari opportunity turns sour

Allison became the first driver to start a GP for both Lotus and Ferrari when he moved to the Italian team in 1959. He started five GPs (fifth at Monza his best result) that year and was a regular in its sports car squad. Podium finishes at Sebring (second) and Goodwood’s Tourist Trophy (third) with a Ferrari 250TR were his highlights.

It was enough to earn a full F1 season with the team and his form in Argentina was encouraging. Winner of the 1960 Buenos Aires 1000 Kms with Phil Hill and a 250TR, he finished second in the Argentine GP a week later. Having just achieved his best GP finish, Allison crashed heavily at Monaco’s chicane during practice, breaking his arm and ending his season.

Recuperation was slow but he returned to finish eighth at Monaco in 1961 with the UDT-Laystall Racing Team’s Lotus 18-Climax. However, he crashed again practising for the Belgian GP and severely injured his legs. Allison was forced to retire from the sport and followed his father into the motor trade, running the Grand Prix Garage in his hometown for many years to come.