Chris Bristow (1937-1960) was a British racing driver who recorded four starts in the Formula One World Championship and few participations in non-championship F1 races before losing a life during the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, in the same race that took a life of another British racer Alan Stacey.
Successful start of a career in the sports car racing
Born in December 1937 in Lambeth, London, Christopher William Bristow started his racing career in the mid-1950s in sports car races. Driving an MG Special, he scored some wins in national sports car events in 1956. He then raced in a Cooper T39-Climax in 1957, again gaining some success.
In the following years, he continued to race on a national level in a Lotus 11, Elva or Cooper Monaco T49. In September 1959, he was driving a Porsche 718 RSK at Goodwood's Tourist Trophy, sharing a car with Hans Herrmann and not finishing the race because of an accident.
Chris Bristow in the #24 Porsche 718 RSK at 1959 Tourist Trophy
Formula 1 debut at 1959 British Grand Prix
In July 1959, Bristow made a debut with BRP (British Racing Partnership) in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving a Borgward-powered Cooper T51 F2 car in the British Grand Prix at Aintree Circuit.
At the wheel of the #48 car, he started 16th on the grid and finished tenth, five laps behind race winner Jack Brabham.
Chris Bristow made his Formula 1 debut in the #48 car at 1959 British Grand Prix
Two podiums in non-championship F1 races
In September 1959, Bristow drove a Cooper T51-Climax in the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park, scoring his first Formula 1 podium by finishing third.
In April 1960, Bristow scored his second F1 podium. After starting from pole position, he was third in the Glover Trophy race at Goodwood Circuit, driving a Cooper T51-Climax for Yeoman Credit Racing Team. He was on a podium with Innes Ireland and Stirling Moss.
Chris Bristow in the #16 Cooper-Climax at 1960 Monaco Grand Prix
Technical retirements at Monaco and Zandvoort
During the year, Bristow participated in Formula 2 races with Yeoman Credit Racing Team, planning also to drive their Cooper T51-Climax in European rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship.
In May, he was fourth on the starting grid of Monaco Grand Prix but had to retire from the race after 17 laps with a broken gearbox. Then, in June, he was again good qualifier in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, starting seventh on the grid. A broken engine forced him to retire after just nine laps.
Chris Bristow in the #36 Cooper-Climax at 1960 Belgian Grand Prix
Horrific death at Spa-Francorchamps circuit
Two weeks later, unfortunately, Bristow's life came to a premature end at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. He crashed in the #36 Cooper at Burnenville corner during the Lap 20, previously passing Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari for the sixth place. Bristow's car rolled, he dropped out from a car to a barbed wire which decapitated him.
The extremely dangerous Burnenville corner was a place of severe injuries of Stirling Moss a day earlier. One more fatal crash happened during the race, just five laps after Bristow's accident when Alan Stacey was killed.