Career Summary:

John Love

  • December 07, 1924
  • April 25, 2005
  • Zimbabwe
  • Not Active
  • 135
  • 51
  • 80
  • 23
  • 12
  • 37.78%
  • 59.26%

John Love (1924-2005) was a racing driver from Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) who was one of just two Formula One drivers from that African country who participated in the F1 World Championship (other was Sam Tingle).

In the Formula One World Championship, John Love recorded nine starts between 1962 and 1972, all nine in the South African Grand Prix. His best result was the second place in 1967 South African Grand Prix. Love's only attempt in some other F1 Championship Grand Prix race was at Monza in 1964, when he failed to qualify.

Love was the six-time South African F1 champion between 1964 and 1969 but also the South African sports car champion in 1971. Besides championship titles in the South African Formula 1, John Love was the first non-British champion in the British Saloon Car Championship, winning the title in 1962 with Mini Cooper.

Rhodesian racing driver John Love

Rhodesian racing driver John Love

Many victories at the start of a career

Born in December 1924 in Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia, John Maxwell Lineham Love started his racing career on motorbikes in the 1940s and switched to cars in the late 1950s. In that time, one of the main races in South Africa was the 9 Hours of Johannesburg, in which Love scored two class wins in 1958 (Austin-Healey 100) and 1959 (Porsche 356 Carrera).

He was the overall winner of that race in 1960, together with Dawie Gous in a Porsche 550 RS. In 1960, he also won two sports car races in a Jaguar D-Type, the Grand Central in Johannesburg and Angola Grand Prix. In January 1960, the South African Grand Prix has been revived, under Formula Libre rules. Love finished seventh in a Jaguar D-Type.

Racing for Tyrrell in the Formula Junior

In 1961, John Love was driving for Ken Tyrrell in the European Formula Junior races. Driving a Cooper T56-BMC, he won the Grand Prix des Frontieres, beating Tony Maggs and Jo Siffert. He was second at Grand Prix de Monaco, behind Peter Arundell.

In November 1961, Love and Dawie Gous scored a victory at Kyalami 9 Hours, the first ever endurance race at the newly-built circuit. They were driving a Porsche 550 RS.

John Love was the 1962 BSCC champion in a Mini Cooper

John Love was the 1962 BSCC champion in a Mini Cooper

British Saloon Car Championship winner in 1962

In 1962, John Love participated in the fifth season of the British Saloon Car Championship. He was driving a Morris Mini Cooper and Austin Mini Cooper in Class A, scoring seven victories over the season.

He was a winner at Snetterton, Aintree (two times), Silverstone, Chrystal Palace, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park. Love won the championship ahead of the best Class B driver Peter Harper and Class D winner Jack Sears.

John Love, Cooper Climax

In the first part of a career, John Love was driving mostly Cooper cars

Formula One World Championship debut in 1962

In December 1962, the South African Grand Prix was included into the Formula One World Championship for the first time. It was the ninth and the last round of the season. Graham Hill won the race and the championship. The race took place at the Prince George Circuit in South London. John Love was driving his own #18 Cooper T55-Climax, finishing in the 8th place, four laps behind a winner.

In 1963, the South African Grand Prix was again the last round of the championship. John Love was driving Cooper T55 again, finishing in the ninth place, five laps behind race winner and new champion Jim Clark.

John Love was one of just two Rhodesian F1 Championship Grand Prix drivers

John Love was one of just two Rhodesian F1 Championship Grand Prix drivers

Six-time winner of the Rhodesian Grand Prix

In 1963, John Love scored his first win in his home race, the Rhodesian Grand Prix at James McNeilie Circuit in Bulawayo. He was driving a Cooper-Climax. He won a race one more time with that car, in 1965. The third win followed in 1967 with Brabham-Repco F1 car and then in 1968 with a Lotus-Cosworth F1 car.

Love scored two more wins at Rhodesian Grand Prix at new Breedon Everard Raceway in Bulawayo. He was driving a March-Cosworth in 1971 and then Brabham-Cosworth in 1972.

Unsuccessful qualifying attempt in the 1964 Italian Grand Prix

The South African Grand Prix wasn't held in 1964 but John Love had an opportunity to made a start in the F1 World Championship. In September, he was invited to drive for Cooper factory team as a replacement for Phill Hill in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

He didn't qualify for the race. Driving the #24 Cooper T73-Climax, Love was 24th in a qualifying, eleven seconds slower than fastest driver John Surtees.

John Love, Lotus 49

John Love was driving all sorts of F1 race cars

Six consecutive F1 championship titles in South Africa

In 1964, John Love took his first title in the South African Formula One Championship, driving a Cooper T55-Climax. He was a champion with that car one more time in 1965. In 1966, he was driving a Cooper T79 to seven victories, clinching his third title.

In 1967, Love was combining Cooper T79 and Brabham BT20-Repco, scoring eight wins and taking his fourth title. The fifth crown he won in 1968, after winning six races in a Brabham BT20-Repco and Lotus 49-Cosworth. The sixth and final South African F1 title followed in 1969 when he scored four wins in a Lotus 49-Cosworth.

Six triumphs made John Love the most successful driver in a history of South African F1 Championship. Later, two more drivers achieved that – Dave Charlton and Ian Scheckter.

Love also added had one South African sports car racing title to his account. He was a champion in 1971, driving a Lola T212-Cosworth.

John Love in the 1967 Cooper-Climax

John Love in the 1967 Cooper-Climax

Podium at 1967 South African Grand Prix

In the Formula One World Championship, John Love made seven more starts between 1965 and 1972, driving under the banner of his Team Gunston. In 1965, he retired in a Cooper T55-Climax and then scored the best result of his career in 1967. In that race, he was driving the Cooper T79-Climax, finishing in the second place behind Pedro Rodriguez in a factory-entered Cooper T81-Maserati.

In five attempts from 1968 to 1972, Love's best result was 8th place in 1970 when he was driving the #23 Lotus 49-Cosworth. His other cars were Brabham BT20-Repco, March 701-Cosworth and Surtees TS9-Cosworth in his last attempt in 1972.

John Love (right) next to his Brabham-Repco

John Love (right) next to his Brabham-Repco

Ending a career in 1973

John Love ended his racing career in 1973, at the age 49, participating in the South African F1 Championship with Chevron B25. Without wins, he finished sixth in the points.

He stayed related to cars in a post-race life, having a Jaguar dealership in Bulawayo and leading his own stock car racing team during the 1980s. He died of cancer in Bulawayo at the age 80.

Photos: Pinterest, John Hendy,