- October 27, 1936
- February 24, 2013
- South Africa
- Not Active
- Lotus,Brabham,Lucky Strike
Dave Charlton (1936 – 2013) was a South African racing driver who recorded fourteen participations (11 starts) in Formula 1 World Championship between 1965 and 1975. Of those fourteen races, nine were in the South African Grand Prix.
Charlton also participated in many non-championship F1 races, winning some of them, but also took six South African F1 Championship titles in a row from 1970 to 1975.
Dave's parents emigrated from the UK to South Africa
David William Charlton was born in Brotton, Yorkshire, UK, in October 1936. His parents emigrated to South Africa while he was 10 years old.
Dave made a racing debut in 1960, driving an Austin-Healey 100 in the support race of the South African Grand Prix in East London. He won the race. Next year, he participated in Kyalami 9 Hours at the South African most known race track. He was a regular contestant in that race in following years but without notable results.
Unsuccessful Formula 1 debut at 1965 South African Grand Prix
In January 1965, he made a debut in the Formula 1 World Championship, appearing in the South African Grand Prix in the #32 Lotus 20-Ford at the Prince George Circuit in East London. A car was caught by fire during a practice and he didn't qualify for the race.
Driving the same car on the same track, he was fourth in the 1966 South African Grand Prix but the race wasn't a part of the F1 championship that year. In 1966, Charlton managed to win the Governor General Cup, driving a Brabham BT11-Climax. It was a car that had once been raced by Jack Brabham himself.
First F1 championship start in the 1967 South African Grand Prix
Charlton had an F1 championship debut in January 1967, in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit. He was driving the #19 Brabham BT11-Climax for Scuderia Scribante. Charlton qualified 8th but he wasn't classified in the race, 17 laps behind race winner Pedro Rodriguez (Cooper).
In January 1968, Charlton returned to Kyalami with Repco-powered Brabham BT11, qualifying 14th for the race. His race lasted for just three laps, he retired with a broken differential.
In 1968, Charlton also participated at Brands Hatch 6 Hours, a part of the International Championship for Makes, driving a Lola T70-Chevrolet for The Steering Wheel Club West Bromwich. His co-driver was Craig Fisher and they didn't finish the race.
First South African F1 Championship title in 1970
In 1969, Charlton spent his first full season in the South African Formula 1 Championship, finishing seventh in the points with one victory. In 1970, he was a dominant driver, winning seven of ten races in a Lotus 49C-Cosworth and taking his first championship title.
With the same car, he gained his career-best result in the F1 World Championship, finishing 12th in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit. In 1970, Charlton also has won the Mozambique Grand Prix non-championship race.
Six championship titles in a row
In the following years, Charlton was an absolutely dominant driver in the South African Formula 1 Championship, winning five more titles from 1971 to 1975. He scored 35 wins in those five seasons, beating the greatest South African drivers, some of them with successful international F1 careers, such were Jackie Pretorius, John Love, Eddie Keizan, Paddy Driver or Ian Scheckter.
In his victorious season, Charlton was driving Lotus 49-Cosworth (in 1970 and 1971), Lotus 72-Cosworth (1971, 1972, 1973) and McLaren M23-Cosworth (1974, 1975).
Regular participant in the South African Grand Prix until 1975
While collecting championship titles in South Africa, Charlton's had no success in the international career. The 12th place at 1970 South African Grand Prix remained his best result in the F1 World Championship.
Until 1975, he participated five more times in the South African Grand Prix, driving for Brabham in 1971 (DNF) and for Lucky Strike Racing between 1972 and 1975. He recorded two DNFs in a Lotus 72D-Cosworth in 1972 and 1973. Driving a McLaren M23, he finished 19th in 1974 and 14th in 1975.
Five F1 championship attempts outside South Africa
Outside South Africa, Charlton appeared in five Grand Prix races. In June 1971, he came to Zandvoort to drive for Lotus in the Dutch Grand Prix, but he didn't start as Dave Walker crashed a car during a practice. Charlton was driving for Lotus in the 1971 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, qualifying 13th and retiring after the first lap.
In 1972, Charlton was driving Lotus 72D-Cosworth for Scribante Lucky Strike Racing in France, UK and Germany. In the French Grand Prix, he failed to qualify. In other two races, he recorded two DNFs.
Third place at 1972 Kyalami 9 Hours
Besides his Formula 1 attempts, Charlton occasionally raced in the sports car competitions, regularly appearing at Kyalami 9 Hours. In 1969, he finished 11th in an Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV, sharing a car with Basil van Rooyen. In 1970, Charlton and Paddy Driver retired in an Alfa Romeo T33/2. One more DNF followed in 1971, at the wheel of Lucky Strike Porsche 917 K he was sharing with Richard Attwood.
And then, in November 1972, Charlton finally reached a podium at Kyalami 9 Hours. He and John Hine finished third in the #7 Lucky Strike Chevron B21-Cosworth. Next year, he and Tim Schenken didn't finish the race in a GRD S73 prototype.
The race was converted into Kyalami 1000 km in 1975. Charlton participated few more times in the race until 1982, finishing best in 1976 in the sixth place. One of his co-driver was a multiple Le Mans winner Derek Bell.