DRIVERS: JOHN LOVE

Name: John Love
Nationality: Zimbabwe
Date of birth: December 7, 1924 - Bulawayo, Rhodesia
Date of death: April 26, 2005 - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

John Love came very close to becoming the first African driver to win a World Championship Grand Prix in 1967 when driving an ex-Bruce McLaren Cooper in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. Love had been a leading local driver for many years and at 42 was relatively old for a Grand Prix driver. Eighteen months earlier he had acquired Cooper T79 with a Climax four-cylinder engine, which Bruce McLaren had raced in the 1965 Tasman series, winning the Australian GP at Longford.

Love had dominated the African scene and had high hopes for the Grand Prix. He astonished the visitors by qualifying fifth. A poor start dropped him to 10th but then the regulars began to hit trouble and gradually he moved up the order. Denny Hulme led but behind him others disappeared, leaving Love ahead of Pedro Rodriguez. On lap 61 Hulme suddenly went into the pits with a brake problem and Love was in the lead and indeed showed Rodriguez that he was not to be caught by pulling away. But with seven laps to go Love was forced into the pit lane by a fuel pump problem which meant he needed extra fuel. By the time he had rejoined the race Rodriguez was ahead and the two finished in that order, Love 20secs behind the winner.

From Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia Love served in World War II before starting to race motorcycles in the 1950s. He went into business with one of his rivals, Jim Redman, until he went off to Europe to become a multiple World Champion in motorcycle racing. Love then turned to racing a pre-war Riley Special sports car before buying an ex-works Jaguar D-type. Using this he was able to score better results and he finished sceond in the Angolan Grand Prix in 1959 and took on the visiting Europeans in the South African GP at East London in 1960, in which he finished seventh. That summer he tried racing in Europe, driving a Lola Formula 2 car at Chimay before returning to Africa, where he won the Angolan GP in his D-Type.

In 1961 he went back to Europe and raced in Formula Junior for Ken Tyrrell alongside South African Tony Maggs. The pair were very successful and in 1962 Love was taken on to race Tyrrell's Mini-Coopers in the British Touring Car Championship and he won the title. He also raced in Formula Junior but a bad crash at Albi left him with a badly broken arm which restricted his movement and so he decided to return to Africa and concentrate on his John Love Motors garage business. He continued to race in local events and in 1964 won the first of six South African Championships. He took part in the big international events when F1 visited, competing in a total of nine Grands Prix before his final race in 1972.

After that he retired to Bulawayo and remained there, despite the problems that the country underwent in the late 1970s before the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979 granted the country independence and ended white rule in Rhodesia, now renamed Zimbabwe. Love continued to live in Zimbabwe until his death in 2005.

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