British racing legends

When Lewis Hamilton won the F1 championship in 2008, he did so in the year that marked the 50th anniversary of the first Briton to perform that feat, Mike Hawthorn.

Between the pair, and before, British motorsport produced a procession of some of the biggest names in the sport’s history who all lived fast, drove hard and – in far too many cases – died young.

Here are thumbnail portraits of some of the greats, with links to more content on this site in which they feature.

  • Jim Clark – Scots Formula One racing driver who won World Championships in 1963 and 1965, as well as winning the 1965 Indianapolis 500. He raced for Lotus and survived a terrible accident early in his career – only to be killed at the Hockenheimring in 1968. More here…
  • Damon Hill – son of iconic British World Champion Graham Hill (see below), he won the Formula One World Championship in 1996, the only son of a champion to do so. Now the President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. More here…
  • Graham Hill – Formula One driver for Lotus and Brabham who won World Championships in 1962 and 1968 as well as the 1966 Indy 500. Killed in 1975 when the Piper Aztec aircraft he was flying crashed over north London. His son, aged 15, would not take up racing for another six years. More here…
  • James Hunt – Winner of the 1976 Formula One World Championship and quintessential devil-may-care 1970s racing driver. After finishing racing he became a BBC commentator until his death in 1993 of a heart attack, aged just 45. More here…
  • Mike Hawthorn – a Formula One racing driver who won the 1958 World Championship, as well as winning the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite being caught up in one of the worst crashes in the sport’s history. Killed in a road crash on the A3 near Guildford months after his championship victory. More here…
  • Nigel Mansell – the 1992 Formula One World Champion who also won the CART World Series title the following year, becoming only person in history to hold both titles simultaneously. He was also the first person to win the CART title in his debut season. More here…
  • Sir Stirling Moss – Veteran of the Golden Age of British motor racing. Winner of 16 Formula One grands prix between 1955 and 1962, second in the Drivers’ Championship four times in a row and known colloquially as “the greatest driver never to win the World Championship.” His most famous victory is perhaps the 1955 Mille Miglia. More here…
  • Sir Jackie Stewart – Scots Formula One driver who won three World Championships between 1969 and 1973. Shocked at the deaths of friends and colleagues that he witnessed on the track, he has campaigned tirelessly and very successfully for safety measures, leading to his being knighted for services to the sport in 2001. More here…
  • John Surtees – a motorcycle racer and Formula One driver who takes the honour of being the only person to have won World Championships on two and four wheels – the latter with Ferrari in 1964. He was involved in the launch of the British A1GP team and now works to promote the Racing Steps Foundation. In July he lost his 18-year-old son Henry in a racing accident during a F2 event at Brands Hatch. More here…
  • John Watson – Northern Irish Formula One driver who competed in Formula One over 12 years, driving for McLaren and Brabham, winning five races then going on to drive sportscars. More here…
 
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