DRIVERS: PETER WHITEHEAD

Name: Peter Whitehead
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: November 12, 1914 - Yorkshire
Date of death: September 21, 1958 - Nimes

Yorkshireman Peter Whitehead was born in November 1914 and, coming from a wealthy background, started racing in a Riley when he was 20. He switched to an ERA the following year and then scored the first major result for Geoffrey Taylor's Alta firm, when he finished third in the Limerick GP, a Formula Libre race. In 1936 he finished third in the Donington Grand Prix, sharing his ERA with Peter Walker. In 1938 Whitehead took the ERA to Australia and there scored his first major victory, winning the Australian GP at Bathurst.

During the war Whitehead was a pilot and he was back in competition as soon as racing revived, taking his ERA to second place in the British Empire Trophy on the Isle of Man in the summer of 1947. Later that year he raced at Lausanne as well. In 1948 he survived a plane crash at London's Croydon Aerodrome. In 1949 he became the first Ferrari F1 privateer after convincing Enzo Ferrari to allow him to buy a Formula 1 car. With the car he won the Czech GP and so became the first Englishman since Dick Seaman to win a major international motor race outside the UK. He came close to winning the French GP as well but was slowed with a gearbox problem which meant he finished third.

In 1950 Whitehead won the Jersey Road Race and the Ulster Trophy but his biggest triumph, the biggest of his career, came at the Le Mans 24 Hours where, sharing with Peter Walker, he won the race. He continued to race and win in Formula 2 events all across Europe in 1951 and 1952 but thereafter his successes came in sports cars, sharing victory with Stirling Moss in the Reims 12 Hours and a second win in the event with Ken Wharton. In 1953 he won the 12 Hours of Hyeres and that year added single-seater victories in the Lady Wigram Trophy in New Zealand and in the Rand GP in South Africa.

In 1958 he was competing with his half-brother Graham in the Tour de France Automobile in a Jaguar 3.4-litre saloon when their car, driven by Graham, plunged off a bridge at Lasalle, near Nimes. Peter was killed.

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