ADVERTISEMENT
1960 Belgian Grand Prix

Unforgettable: A Very Dark Day 1960 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa

1960 Belgian Grand Prix Unfrgettable: A Very Dark Day at Spa-Francorchamps

The tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was unfortunately not the first time more than one driver’s life was lost during a Formula 1 race weekend. The 1960 Belgian Grand Prix was an equally dark time for the sport.

Back in the 1933 Italian Grand Prix at the Temple of Speed called Monza Autodromo, three drivers, Giuseppe Campari, Baconin Borzacchini and Stanislaw Czaykowski were killed. Sadly, similar deadly events also darkened junior racing series.

In June 1967, three drivers, Giacomo “Geki” Russo, Beat Fehr and Romano Perdomi lost their lives in an Italian F3 race at Caserta, near Naples.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even the world of racing on two wheels is not immune from such tragedies. The 1973 motorcycle race at Monza claimed the lives of Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini.

The Gathering Storm

1960 Belgian Grand Prix race report: Brabham wins tragic race July 1960 - Motor Sport Magazine

The tenth running of the Belgian Grand Prix took place on 19 June 1960 at the 14.12 km Spa-Francorchamps street circuit in the Fagnes mountains. It was Round 5 of 10, which included the Indianapolis 500-mile race for the last time, and the one-and-done United States Grand Prix at Riverside International Raceway, east of Los Angeles.

Just like Imola decades later, dark clouds started gathering on Saturday at Spa. Stirling Moss crashed his Rob Walker-entered Lotus at over 200 kph after left rear stub axle failure at Burnenville. Moss was thrown from the car and suffered broken legs and nose.

Around the same time Mike Taylor, another driver in a Lotus, crashed at the fast right-hand bend La Carriere after his steering column broke. He also suffered serious injuries. He would later take legal action against Lotus cars and was successful in receiving compensation.

Race & Wrecks

Chris Bristow (Formula One Driver) ~ Wiki & Bio with Photos | Videos

The 36-lap race at Spa on Sunday turned out to be the deadliest in Formula 1 history in terms of driver fatalities. Jack Brabham qualified his Cooper-Climax on pole position and was in charge at the front from the start of the race.

On Lap 19, young English driver Chris Bristow, was locked, in the words of Denis Jenkinson, ‘in a pretty lethal duel,’ for sixth place with local driver Willy Mairesse. Bristow was on the outside going into Burnenville corner when he lost control of his Cooper.

The car hit an embankment, the driver was ejected and thrown into the barbed wire fencing and was decapitated. He was only 22 years old.

Given the safety standards of the day the show went on at high speeds. No one realizing the double tragedy of the race was few minutes and laps away.

On Lap 24, Stacey was taking the fast Malmedy curve before the Masta straight when he was hit on the visor by a bird, causing him to lose control and crash. His Lotus caught fire and Stacey, ejected from the car, was gone before any help could reach him.

The show went on. “Black Jack” led the race from start to finish.

Young, Fast & Gone: Chris Bristow

Chris Bristow & Alan Stacey: Two young to die April 1997 - Motor Sport Magazine

Chris Bristow, fast and fearless, was born on December 2, 1937. His racing life began at the age of nineteen at the wheel of an MG Special. He made his mark by beating Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in 1959.

After the 1955 Le Mans winner Ivor Bueb was killed at Clermont-Ferrand, Ken Gregory, boss man at British Racing Partnership was prompted to hire Bristow as his replacement.

Bristow made his Formula 1 debut in the 1959 British Grand Prix at Aintree, near Liverpool. Driving a Cooper-Borgward T51 for BRP team he was classified tenth. He missed the 1960 opening round in Argentina. In the second round in Monaco, he qualified his Yeoman Credit Racing Cooper-Climax T51 a brilliant fourth.

His race lasted seventeen laps before gearbox gave up. His second race of the season was the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. He qualified seventh but could only complete nine of the seventy-five laps before engine problems forced his retirement.

The 1960 Belgian Grand Prix was only his fourth Formula 1 Championship start before his short and promising career was over that day at Spa.

Ken Gregory, his team owner, would later compare Bristow to another young driver who made a dramatic debut in Grand Prix racing at the same track in 1991, aka Micahel Schumacher.

Young, Fast & Gone: Alan Stacey

Andrew on X: "62 years ago today, Alan Stacey passed away from injuries suffered in a fiery crash during the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix @ Spa. #RIP The crash was caused by

Alan Stacey was born on August 29, 1933, in Broomfield, Essex. At seventeen he suffered a motorcycle accident which led to him having a prosthetic right leg. His racing career started in 1955 at the wheel of a Lotus. After winning races at Brands Hatch and Crystal Palace, Colin Chapman gave him his Formula 1 break.

Stacey’s debut in the 1958 British Grand Prix at Silverstone ended on Lap 19 with engine trouble. His next Grand Prix was in 1959 at Aintree, he was eighth, again driving a Lotus. He was out after the opening lap in the season finale in Sebring, the inaugural United States Grand Prix.

Chapman entered Stacey for the full 1960 season. In the Argentine season opener, he retired on Lap 24 of 80. At Monaco, his race was over on Lap 23 of 100. In the Dutch Grand Prix, his race lasted until Lap 57 of 75 and then came the sad end at Spa. Stacey was 26 years old.