- February 09, 1937
- June 02, 2009
- South Africa
- Not Active
Tony Maggs (1937-2009) was a racing driver from South Africa who recorded 25 starts and three podiums in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1961 and 1965, driving mostly for Cooper Car Company. He was the first South African in Formula 1.
Outside F1, he was British Formula 2 vice-champion and third at 1965 Sebring 12 Hours. He participated three times at Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing best in the sixth place in 1964.
Starting a career in 1958, moving to England in 1959
Born in February 1937 in Pretoria,Transvaal, Anthony Francis O'Connell Maggs was a son of wealthy farmer and businessman. He started a racing career in 1958, driving an Austin-Healey in national events.
In 1959, he moved to England, driving a Lotus 11-Climax in sports car events and scoring few notable results, including a victory, at Goodwood. At the end of the year, he switched to Tojeiro-Jaguar and won some races in the UK and South Africa.
Good results opened a door to Tyrrell
In 1960, Maggs scored some good results in Formula Junior and Formula 2 races. He won Formula Junior race at Snetterton in a Gemini Mark III-Ford and finished third at F2 Vanwall Trophy in a Cooper T51-Climax of Essex Racing Team. In the sports car racing, he participated at Paris 1000 Kilometers race in Essex Racing's Aston Martin DB4 GT, sharing a car with Jim Clark. They started second on the grid but didn't finish the race.
Good results opened a door to Ken Tyrrell's team in 1961. Maggs was driving a Cooper T56-BMC for Tyrrell, winning six races over the year.
Le Mans debut in 1961 with Essex Racing's Aston Martin
In June 1961, Maggs made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was a part of Essex Racing stable, sharing the #4 Aston Martin DBR1/300 with Roy Salvadori. They were among the front-runners but retired after nineteen hours of racing.
Later that year, Maggs was driving Aston Martin DB4 GT at Coppa Inter-Europa (2nd) and Paris 1000 Kilometers (9th) but also a Jaguar D-Type at Kyalami 9 Hours (DNF).
First South African driver in Formula One
In July 1961, Maggs made a debut in Formula One and became the first South African driver in world's premier racing series. He was driving Louise Bryden-Brown's #50 Lotus 18-Climax at British Grand Prix at Aintree Circuit, finishing his first race in 13th place, six laps behind race winner Wolfgang von Trips (Ferrari).
Three weeks later, Maggs recorded one more race in the same car, participating at German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife. He finished in 11th place, a lap behind race winner Stirling Moss.
Two podiums in the 1962 F1 seasons
In 1962, Maggs became a factory driver for Cooper Car Company, with Bruce McLaren as his teammate. McLaren finished third in the championship while Maggs was four places behind. Driving a Cooper T55-Climax Straight-4 or Cooper T60-Climax V8, Maggs reached two podiums.
His maiden podium came at the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit, where he was beaten by Porsche's Dan Gurney. The second podium came at his home race. That year's South African Grand Prix took place at Prince George Circuit in East London. Maggs finished third, behind Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren. Maggs also participated in three non-championship F1 races but without notable results.
Outside F1, Maggs was driving Austin Mini Cooper in the British Saloon Car Championship and Aston Martins for Essex Racing Team in sports car races, with a class victory at Trophee d'Auvergne as his best result.
1963 – one more F1 podium with Cooper
McLaren and Maggs remained Cooper drivers in 1963 F1 season, driving a Cooper T66-Climax V8. For the second year in a row, Maggs was second at the French Grand Prix but this time at Reims circuit. He was defeated by Jim Clark. At the end of the season, Maggs was 8th in the points, two places behind Bruce McLaren.
Outside F1 championship, Maggs participated in three non-championship races with Cooper but also reached a podium at Glover Trophy at Goodwood in a Lotus 24-Climax. He was also driving Lola Mark IV-Climax in F1 races in Australia and New Zealand.
DNF at Le Mans, victory at Kyalami 9 Hours
In sports car races during 1963, Maggs was using a variety of cars. After a couple events in a Lola Mark VI GT-Ford, he raced at Le Mans 24 Hours in a Porsche 718 GTR, sharing a car with Jo Bonnier. They retired after nine hours due to an accident.
At Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch Maggs was driving a Lotus 19-Climax and then he joined David Piper in a Ferrari 250 GTO at Kyalami 9 Hours. They won a race.
Three F1 starts with Scuderia Centro Sud's BRM P57
Released by Cooper at the end of 1963, Maggs joined Scuderia Centro Sud to drive a BRM P57 in selected Grand Prix events in 1964. He had an accident during a practice for Dutch Grand Prix and didn't start the race. An engine failure prevented him to start Belgian Grand Prix.
Finally, he made a start in the #17 BRM at British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, not finishing the race due to gearbox failure. Maggs managed to score points at German Grand Prix (6th) and Italian Grand Prix (4th), finishing the season 12th in the final classification.
British Formula 2 vice-champion
Parallel to his part-time F1 commitments, Maggs was driving Lola-Cosworth for Midland Racing Partnership in Formula 2 races. He finished second in the British Formula 2 Championship, behind Mike Spence.
He was also active in the French F2 Trophee, finishing 13th in the points. In April, Maggs participated in the Aintree 200 race, opened for F1 and F2 cars. He finished seventh overall and the second among F2 drivers.
One more Kyalami victory, podium at Sebring
In sports car races, Maggs continued his partnership with David Piper.Their first race in 1964 was Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres in which they finished 7th in a Ferrari 250 GTO. Maggs was sharing the #25 Ferrari 250 GTO with Innes Ireland at 1964 Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing in the sixth place.
Later in the season, he and David Piper visited Reims, Goodwood and Linas-Montlhery before scoring their second victory at Kyalami 9 Hours in October. A few months later, in March 1965, Maggs and Piper finished third overall and first in P4.0 class at Sebring 12 Hours, driving the #31 Ferrari 250 LM.
Retiring from racing after killing a spectator
Tony Maggs recorded his last F1 race on January 1, 1965. It was the South African Grand Prix at East London where he was driving the #15 Lotus 25-BRM for Reg Parnell Racing. He was 11th, eight laps behind race winner Jim Clark.
In March, Maggs raced at Sebring and then he was planning another season in Europe. His plans were interrupted by an accident in a national race at Pietermaritzburg. He crashed in a Brabham-Ford and killed a young spectator. Upset by a tragedy, Maggs immediately retired from racing.
Working on a family farm in a post-race life
In a post-race life, Maggs returned to northern Transvaal and continued to work at the family farming business. He survived a light plane accident a year later in which his farm manager was killed. Maggs himself suffered burns as he tried to save others. He died in June 2009 from cancer.