- February 08, 1932
- April 07, 2005
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Cliff Allison (1932-2005) was a British racing driver who recorded sixteen starts in Formula One World Championship between 1958 and 1961, driving for four different teams (Lotus, Scuderia Centro Sud, Ferrari, UDT Laystall). He scored one F1 podium, finishing second at 1960 Argentine Grand Prix.
He was also successful in sports car races, gaining some good results in classic endurance races, including class victory at 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours and second place overall at 1959 Sebring 12 Hours.
Racing with Team Lotus since 1955
Born in February 1932 in Brough, Westmorland (now Cumbria), Henry Clifford 'Cliff' Allison started his racing career in the early 1950s. His first race car was an F3-spec Cooper 500.
After Colin Chapman, a founder of Lotus Cars, spotted him, Allison was racing in a Lotus Mark IX in British national sports car events, such were Goodwood 9 Hours or Tourist Trophy.
Hitting a dog at Le Mans debut
In 1956, Allison switched to Lotus Eleven-Climax and it was a car in which he made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours. In his first appearance at Circuit de la Sarthe, he was sharing the #35 Lotus Eleven with Keith Hall.
They didn't finish the race due to an accident. During the night, Allison hit a dog chasing a rabbit across the track.
Class victory and Index of Performance award at 1957 Le Mans
A year later, Allison and Keith Hall returned to Le Mans in the #55 Lotus Eleven equipped with a smaller 744cc Climax engine. They finished 14th overall and the first in S750 class, taking also an Index of Performance award.
In March 1958, Allison partnered team owner Colin Chapman at Sebring 12 Hours, finishing in the sixth place in the #55 Lotus Eleven. Later in the season Lotus 15 came. Allison participated in 1958 Le Mans race in the #26 Lotus 15, sharing a car with Graham Hill. They didn't finish the race, retiring after just one hour of racing with a broken engine.
Nine starts in the 1958 Formula One season
In 1958, Allison also made his Formula One World Championship debut. His first race was the Monaco Grand Prix and he finished sixth in the #24 Lotus 12-Climax. He was sixth again at Dutch Grand Prix and then scored his first point-scoring result by finishing fourth at Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
During the 1958 season, Allison recorded seven starts in a Lotus 12, one start in a Lotus 16 and one start in a Maserati 250F, driving it for Scuderia Centro Sud at the Portuguese Grand Prix. At the end of the season, he was 18th in the championship with three points on his account.
Second place at 1959 Sebring 12 Hours in a Ferrari
In 1959, Allison joined Scuderia Ferrari both in sports car races and Formula One. He started a season with an overall podium at Sebring 12 Hours, finishing second in the #9 Ferrari 250 TR. His co-driver was Jean Behra.
Later in the season, he was sharing a Ferrari 250 TR with different co-drivers (Dan Gurney, Hermano da Silva Ramos, Phil Hill). At Le Mans 24 Hours, he and Hermano da Silva Ramos retired after four hours.
Six Formula 1 starts and one podium with Scuderia Ferrari
In the Formula 1 World Championship, Allison made a debut with Scuderia Ferrari at the streets of Monte-Carlo. Driving the #52 Ferrari Dino 156, he retired after an early collision with Wolfgang von Trips and Bruce Halford. Later in the season, he made four starts in the Ferrari Dino 246, finishing best in the fifth place at Monza. He earned two points which put him on the 17th place in the championship standings.
In 1960, Allison started a year with a victory at Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometers, together with Phil Hill in the #4 Ferrari 250 TR. A week later, he scored his maiden Formula 1 podium, finishing second at Argentine Grand Prix in the #24 Ferrari Dino 256, twenty-six seconds behind Bruce McLaren.
Monte-Carlo accident interrupted Allison's career
The season 1960 was marked by two big accidents. Early in May, he went off the road at the high speed during practice for Targa Florio race, driving a Ferrari 250 TRI. He survived a wreck without a scratch.
Three weeks later, another crash was more serious and it interrupted his F1 season which started so good in Argentina. During a practice for Monaco Grand Prix, he slammed into a straw barrier, sustaining multiple injuries which forced him to sit out the rest of the season.
Crash at Spa stopped Allison's career
Allison returned to racing in spring 1961, driving a Lotus 19 for UDT Laystall Team in national sports car racing events, scoring several podium results. In May, he was driving the #32 Lotus 18-Climax at Monaco Grand Prix, finishing in the 8th place, seven laps behind race winner Stirling Moss. It was Allison's last F1 race.
In June, he participated in his last Le Mans 24 Hours, driving the #51 Lotus Elite for UDT Laystall Racing Team. His co-driver was Mike McKee. They retired after eleven hours due to technical problems.
A week later, Allison's career came to an end at Spa-Francorchamps. He crashed out during his first practice lap in the #16 Lotus 18. A car went off into the field and Allison sustained severe injuries.
Back to Brough to run a garage and drive a bus
Allison survived one more nasty crash but it was a sign for him to stop a career before he lost a life. He returned to his birthplace Brough to run Allison's Garage, a business started by his father. The family also provided the bus services to the village and school, so the small Cumbrian village became a unique place which has a former F1 racer as their bus driver. Allison stayed in touch with motorsport by visiting reunions and races. He died in April 2005.