DRIVERS: MIKE SPENCE

Name: Mike Spence
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: December 30, 1936 - Croydon
Date of death: May 7, 1968 - Indianapolis Speedway, USA

Born into a garage-owning family in Maidenhead, England, Spence grew up surrounded by racing and started at 22 in his father's Turner sports car. After trying out an AC-Bristol he decided to move into Formula Junior the following season. It was a rapid rise to fame as some success in an Emeryson FJ car allowed him the opportunity to make his F1 debut in the non-championship Solitude GP in Germany in 1961. He was 24. Later in the year he finished in the same car in the Lewis-Evans Trophy race at Brands Hatch. For 1962 he switched to Ian Walker Racing in FJ and ran a Lotus. That led to the chance to join the Team Lotus FJ team in 1963 and in September that year he made his World Championship F1 debut for Team Lotus, standing in for the injured Trevor Taylor in the Italian Grand Prix.

In 1964 Lotus started the year with Jim Clark and Peter Arundell in F1 and Spence raced in F2 but after Arundell crashed an F2 car at Reims Spence became Jim Clark's number two from the British GP onwards. He finished sixth in Italy, ran second in the United States GP at Watkins Glen and finished fourth in Mexico. The following year he won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch

In 1966 he was signed by BRM but seconded to drive for their second-division Parnell Racing operation. He was then promoted to the works team in 1967 alongside Jackie Stewart. His best placing that year was fifth in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, three places behind Stewart on the only occasion that both the complex BRM H-16s finished in the points together. The 1967 season also saw Spence share the winning Chaparral sports car in the BOAC 1000km race at Brands Hatch and he really looked poised for great success in 1968 with the new BRM P126 V12.

After showing himself to be a potential front-running force in both the Race of Champions and the Silverstone International Trophy, he was killed while testing one of the Lotus 56 turbine cars at Indianapolis when he hit the wall and the front right wheel of his car came back and hit him on the head.

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