Oldest living drivers of Formula One
There aren’t many race drivers who can tell their grandchildren and great-grandchildren stories about driving the Formula 1 races 50 or 60 years ago. But there are still a few dozen of living legends who can remember how Formula 1 looked like at the very start.
Among the living champions and winners from 1950s and 1960s are Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney or Tony Brooks for example. However, we checked the list of all the drivers who have competed in at least one Formula One Grand Prix to see who are the oldest among them.
Robert La Caze and Eric Thompson died in 2015
Unfortunately, we lost few names from the top of the list recently. Robert La Caze died on July 1, 2015, at the age of 98. He was a Frenchman but raced under the Moroccan flag at 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix at Casablanca. It was his only Formula One race and he drove a privately run F2 car Cooper T45.
Another „oldtimer“ Eric Thompson died on August 22, 2015, at the age 95. He took part in the 1952 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, driving a Connaught and finishing 5th. His biggest racing success was to get 3rd place overall at 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans with Aston Martin DB2.
Andre Guelfi was oldest until June 2016
That brings us to the Frenchman Andre Guelfi. He was born on May 6th 1919 in Morocco. His only Formula One race was the same as La Caze’s – the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix, and he finished one place behind La Caze, also driving a Climax-engined Cooper T45. This was the only Moroccan GP ever held as a part of a F1 World Championship. Stirling Moss won the race, Mike Hawthorn took the championship, but the race was marked by the big accident of Stuart Lewis-Evans, who succumbed to his injuries six days later because of terrible burns from that accident.
Guelfi’s racing career started in 1950 with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He participated in the Le Mans endurance race five times, finishing best 6th overall in 1954 and losing two co-drivers in fatal accidents (Jean Lariviere 1951 and Jean-Marie Brousselet 1958). Guelfi also competed in many F2 and sportscar races.
Guelfi died on June 28, 2016, at the age 97.
Fighter pilot Kenneth McAlpine founded Connaught Racing Team
After Guelfi’s death, Kenneth McAlpine took the number 1 spot on the list. He was born on September 21st 1920 in Surrey, England. During the World War II he was a fighter pilot. He participated in seven Formula One GP races from 1952 to 1955, debuting in the 1952 British GP at Silverstone with Connaught Type A.
The wealthy McAlpine was a financial backer and the co-owner of the Connaught Racing Team, which lasted until 1958. McAlpine’s best result was achieving 13th place at the 1953 German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife. He retired from racing to marry and to supervise the work on the farm and the vineyard by his house in Kent, which produces award-winning grapes. He was also involved in his family’s building industry.
For renown painter Leslie Marr, racing was a hobby
Next on the list of oldest living racers is another British driver – Leslie Marr. He was born on August 14th 1922 in Durham. He is a renown painter and racing was just his hobby. He participated in two British Grand Prixes, in 1954 driving his private Connaught Type A and in 1955 driving the Connaught Type B. In the first race he finished 13th, but a year later, he retired. He also competed in several non-championship races, with his best performance winning him the 1955 Cornwall MRC Formula 1 race.
There are four more drivers aged 90 or more who competed in Formula One races 60 or more years ago: Chuck Weyant (USA), Ken Kavanagh (Australia), Paul Goldsmith (USA) and Hermano da Silva Ramos (France-Brasil).
Indianapolis 500 was a part of Formula One
Americans Weyant (born April 4rd 1923) and Goldsmith (born October 2nd 1925) recorded their F1 GP races at the famous Indianapolis 500, which was a part of the Formula One World Championship during the 1950s. Weyant raced four times at the Indy 500 between 1955 and 1959, while Goldsmith competed six times from 1958 to 1963. In the 1960 Indianapolis 500, the last time when the race was a part of World Championship, he scored a podium with the 3rd place finish. Goldsmith was more known as the NASCAR driver, with 127 races over 11 years.
Australian Ken Kavanagh (born December 12th 1923) also deserves his place on this list although he didn’t start any F1 GP race; he tried twice but failed. He entered the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix with his own Maserati 250F and failed to qualify. A month later he tried at 1958 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, but the engine of his car was blown during practice. Despite that, Kavanagh was a very successful racer albeit with motorcycles. He became the first Australian to win a motorcycle Grand Prix race (1952 Ulster Grand Prix). He competed in 38 motorcycle GP races and scored 5 wins and 24 podiums.
Hermano da Silva Ramos, former racing driver with dual French-Brasilian nationality, was born on December 7th 1925, so he will be 90 in a few weeks. He has had experience in motorcycle racing, sports car racing, rally racing and even particpated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans once. In Formula One, he debuted at the 1955 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. He participated in seven GP races during 1955 and 1956, all with Gordini cars, and scored two championship points. His best result was 5th place at 1956 Monaco Grand Prix.
Maria Teresa de Filippis – the first woman in F1
We are continuing the list with drivers aged between 85 and 90; there are 10 of them: John Rhodes (UK, August 18th 1927), Hans Herrmann (Germany, February 23rd 1928), Andre Milhoux (Belgium, December 9th 1928), Ian Stewart (UK, July 15th 1929), John Barber (UK, July 22nd 1929), Stirling Moss (UK, September 17th 1929), John Campbell-Jones (UK, January 21st 1930), Don Edmunds (USA, September 23rd 1930), Bernie Ecclestone (UK, October 28th 1930) and David Piper (UK, December 2nd 1930).
As you noticed, some very famous names are here, for example Stirling Moss (one of the greatest F1 drivers in a history), Bernie Ecclestone (big boss of modern Formula 1) or Maria Teresa de Filippis (first woman in F1). They already have separate stories.
Stories as a inspiration for modern racing drivers
There are almost 80 drivers aged over 75 on the list, we will count them all and in the following months we will also feature the stories of many of these drivers, because their life stories can be an inspiration for all modern racing drivers.
The drivers aged between 80 and 85 are: Dan Gurney (USA, April 13th 1931), Alex Soler-Roig (Spain, October 29th 1931), Tony Brooks (UK, February 25th 1932), Fred Gamble (USA, March 17th 1932), Tim Parnell (UK, June 25th 1932), Mike MacDowel (UK, September 13th 1932), Gaetano Starrabba (Italy, December 3rd 1932), Nino Vaccarela (Italy, March 4th 1933), Bob Bondurant (USA, April 27th 1933), Mario de Araujo Cabral (Portugal, January 15th 1934), Giorgio Bassi (Italy, January 20th 1934), George Follmer (USA, January 27th 1934), Ernesto Brambilla (Italy, January 31st 1934), John Surtees (UK, February 11th 1934), Bobby Unser (USA, February 20th 1934), Paddy Driver (SouthAfrica, March 13th 1934), Mike Taylor (UK, March 24th 1934), Brian Gubby (UK, April 17th 1934), Michael May (Switzerland, August 18th 1934), Peter Ashdown (UK, October 16th 1934), AJ Foyt (USA, January 16th 1935), Hubert Hahne (Germany, March 28th 1935), Vic Elford (UK, June 10th 1935), Carlo Facetti (Italy, June 26th 1935), Jim Hall (USA, July 23rd 1935), John Cordts (Canada, July 23rd 1935), Massimo Natili (Italy, July 28th 1935) and Bill Brack (Canada, September 26th 1935). South African Peter de Klerk died on July 11th this year, in the age 80.
Oldest living F1 champ Jack Brabham died in 2014
The last group is of the drivers aged between 75 and 80: Bruce Kessler (USA, March 23rd 1936), Gerry Ashmore (UK, July 25th 1936), Jackie Lewis (UK, November 1936), John Skip Barber (USA, November 1936), Ben Pon (Netherland, December 9th 1936), Bruce Johnstone (South Africa, January 30th 1937), Roger Penske (USA, February 20th 1937), Brian Redman (UK, March 9th 1937), Gus Hutchison (USA, April 26th 1937), Gunther Seiffert (Germany, October 18th 1937), Keith Greene (UK, January 5th 1938), Alan Rees (UK, January 12th 1938), Carlo Franchi Gimax (Italy, January 1st 1938), Fritz D’Orey (Brasil, March 25th 1938), Peter Westbury (UK, May 26th 1938), Eppie Wietzes (Netherlands, May 28th 1938), Ernie Pieterse (South Africa, July 4th 1938), Neville Lederle (South Africa, Septemebr 25th 1938), Brausch Niemann (South Africa, January 7th 1939), David Hobbs (UK, March 9th 1939), Basil van Rooyen (South Africa, April 19th 1939), Mike Harris (Zimbabwe, May 25th 1939) Dieter Quester (Austria, May 30th 1939), Jackie Stewart (UK, June 11th 1939), Chris Craft (UK, November 17th 1939), Conny Andersson (Sweden, December 28th 1939) and Mario Andretti (USA, February 28th 1940).
Among all those ‘oldtimers’ are three world champions: Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart and John Surtees, who is oldest. Until 2014, the oldest living F1 champion was Sir Jack Brabham (born April 2nd 1926), but he died on May 19th 2014, at the age 88.