Lance Macklin

Son of the late Sir Noel Macklin, principal of the Cobham-based Invicta sports car company which flourished in the immediate pre-war years, this handsome young Englishman was widely regarded as a brilliantly talented driver who never had the urge fully to apply himself. In 1952 he drove for the HWM team and scored his best result with eighth in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, staying with the team the following year only to post retirements in all six rounds of the World Championship which he contested. He finished third at Le Mans for Aston Martin in 1954 and then hit the headlines in 1955 when he swerved to avoid a suddenly slowing Mike Hawthorn and was hit from behind by the Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh . The accident cost the life of Levegh and more than 80 spectators. Macklin escaped unhurt but was deeply affected by the crash and was one of the drivers who gave evidence to the French government inquiry headed by the magistrate Zadock Kahn."After passing me (Mike) Hawthorn turned too sharply towards the right and braked," Macklin told the court. "I braked my car as hard as I could to avoid him. My wheels locked and I was carried towards the left. Levegh's car hit the back of my car. In an affair of this kind it is difficult to speak of responsibility. Hawthorn no doubt committed an error but the real responsibility was the speed of the cars. In the excitement of his struggle (with Levegh and Juan Manuel Fangio) Hawthorn executed a manouevre which astonished me and he left me no other alternative than to either run into him or turn to the left." The following month finished eighth in the British Grand Prix at Aintree driving the Stirling Moss-owned Maserati 250F but after another crash in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod later that summer he decided to quit racing.He spent many years living and working in Spain, running an import-export business but returned to Britain when he fell ill. He died just before his 83rd birthday.