Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximilian Reichsgraf Berghe von Trips was a German nobleman and a famous race driver born in 1928 in Horrem, near Cologne in Germany. He was one the first German racing superstars. In fact, until Michael Schumacher took the GP title in 1994, Wolfgang von Trips was the most successful German Formula One driver. He was the last in the line of nobles of the Niederrhein.
Runner-up at the 1954 Mille Miglia race
Born and raised in a prominent family, von Trips was interested in motorsport early in his life and after some amateur racing in the post-war years, he bought a Porsche and promptly finished second in the GT1.5 class in the Mille Miglia of 1954. After that, he managed to obtain a GP license and participated in the 1956 Formula One Championship, driving for the Ferrari race team.
Wolfgang von Trips in a Ferrari
At the beginning of his career, he held the reputation of being a very good and fast driver who, unfortunately, often met with accidents. Enzo Ferrari never was a fan of the drivers crashing his cars, but von Tips was different. Ferrari couldn’t turn a blind eye to his talent and potential, so from 1956 to 1958, von Trips raced for Ferrari but with modest success.
von Trips, 1600 Porsche RSK, Zeltweg 1958
Short spell with Porsche
In the late fifties, Wolfgang von Trips started racing for Porsche but in 1960, he rejoined Ferrari in an attack for the championship title. After a win in 1960 in Ferrari and lots of podium finishes, Ferrari and von Trips were ready for a promising 1961 season. During 1961, von Trips managed to score two wins, at Zandvoort and Aintree circuits, and had a couple of podium finishes, making himself the top candidate for the 1961 Formula One title.
Wolfgang von Trips
Tragedy at Monza
Unfortunately, a tragic crash had happened during the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. After taking pole position, he made a poor start of the race. While he was trying to protect his position on the first lap, he collided with Jim Clark. His car crashed into the crowd, killing 14 spectators. Von Trips also died, leaving his teammate Phil Hill to clinch a bitter world title.
Video : Wolfgang von Trips' fatal crash at the Italian Grand Prix, 1961
Von Trips was a true gentleman and wonderful, popular person
The death of von Trips was one of the biggest tragedies in Formula One up to that moment. Not only was a potential world champion killed but also 14 people lost their lives in the tragic accident, leaving many fans in disbelief.
At his funeral, everybody from the Formula One world came to pay respect to one of best drivers of the era, a fantastic sportsman and a wonderful gentleman with impeccable manners. Von Trips’ casket was laid on his beloved Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina road car and was escorted to the eternal memory of every true motorsport fan.