Clive Cussler

American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist Clive Eric Cussler, was born July 15, 1931 in Aurora, Illinois. His exciting thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than seventeen times. Cussler is also the founder and chairman of the real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and numerous other notable sunken underwater wreckages. He is the sole author or lead author of more than 50 books. Born in Aurora, Illinois, Cussler grew up in Alhambra, California and was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 14. He attended Pasadena City College for two years and then enlisted in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. During his service in the Air Force, he was promoted to Sergeant and worked as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) After his discharge from the military, Cussler went to work in the advertising industry, first as a copywriter and later as a creative director for two of the nation’s most successful advertising agencies. As part of his duties Cussler produced radio and television commercials, many of which won international awards including an award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Clive Cussler began writing in 1965 when his wife took a job working nights for the local police department where they lived in California. After making dinner for the kids and putting them to bed he had no one to talk to and nothing to do so he decided to start writing. His most famous creation is marine engineer, government agent and adventurer Dirk Pitt. The Dirk Pitt novels frequently take on an alternative history perspective, such as“what if Atlantis was real?” or “what if Abraham Lincoln wasn’t assassinated, but was kidnapped?”The first two Pitt novels, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were relatively conventional maritime thrillers. The third, Raise the Titanic!, made Cussler’s reputation and established the pattern that subsequent Pitt novels would follow: a blend of high adventure and high technology, generally involving megalomaniacal villains, lost ships, beautiful women, and sunken treasure. Cussler’s novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strove for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean’s novels. Pitt himself is a larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines.

Clive Cussler has had more than seventeen consecutive titles reach The New York Times fiction best-seller list.Following the publication in 1996 of Cussler’s first nonfiction work, The Sea Hunters, he was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997 by the Board of Governors of the State University of New York Maritime College who accepted the work in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis. This was the first time in the college’s 123-year history that such a degree had been awarded. In 2002 Cussler was awarded the Naval Heritage Award from the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for his efforts in the area of marine exploration. Cussler is a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, the Royal Geographic Society in London, and the American Society of Oceanographers. As an underwater explorer, Cussler has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and has written non-fiction books about his findings.

Festival of Black Country Vehicles

The 15th Annual Festival of Black Country Vehicles takes place at the Black Country Living Museum on 18 June. The festival celebrates the Black Country’s historical reputation as a major centre for vehicle manufacturing and will feature a gathering of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles all built in the Black Country from 1913 up until the present day, such as Austin, Bean, Clyno, Jensen, Lomax, Quantum, Rickman, Star, Sunbeam, Swallow, Turner and Westfield.

The museum also has many other road transport exhibits which were used and made in the Black Country including the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company tram No. 34, Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company tram No. 5, a Guy single-decker Bus, a 1920 Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 5 Tividale single-decker tram, the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 19 works car, TheWolverhampton Tramways Company Horse Tram No. 23 open-topper built in 1892, the Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 34 Tividale single-decker built in 1919. The Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways open topper No. 49 built in 1909, The Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 75 Tividale single-decker which was built in 1919, The Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways No. 102 Tividale single-decker built in 1920, the Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd cable car No. 104 open-topper built in 1886 and the Lisbon No. 361 single-decker built in 1907. Buses at the museum include the West Bromwich Corporation Daimler CVG6 GEA 174 built in 1948, the Midland Red BMMO D9 6342 HA built in 1963, the Guy Motors KTT 689 built in 1948, the West Bromwich Corporation Dennis E-Type EA 4181 built in 1929 and the Reo Speedwagon with C14D bodywork MR 3879 built in 1924.

Operational Trolleybuses at the museum include the Walsall Corporation trolleybus 862, The Wolverhampton Corporation Guy Transport 78, the Wolverhampton Corporation Sunbeam Transport 433, the Bradford Corporation Transport 735 – A Karrier W built in 1946 and the Walsall Corporation Transport 862, a Sunbeam F4A with a Willowbrook Body. Wolverhampton was home to some early manufacturers of motor cars, such as Sunbeam, Clyno, AJS and Star and The Museum collection includes a 1903 Sunbeam, a 1912 Star and a 1931 AJS as well as examples of later vehicles such as the Kieft, Frisky and Westfield Topaz. There are also approximately 40 motor cycles in the Museum’s collection, including Sunbeams, AJS, Wearwell and Rocksons. Unusual vehicles in the fleet include a 1924 Guy-Morris fire engine, a Model T Ford van used by Willenhall firm Brevitt’s and a Bean of Tipton flat bed truck.

James Hunt

British Motor Racing legend James Hunt tragically died 15 June 1993 after suffering a heart attack. Born 29 August 1947, He began his racing career in touring car racing, Hunt progressed into Formula Three where he attracted the attention of the Hesketh Racing team and was soon taken under their wing. Hunt’s often action-packed exploits on track earned him the nickname “Hunt the Shunt”. Hunt entered Formula One in 1973, driving a March 731 entered by the Hesketh Racing team.

He went on to win for Hesketh, driving their own Hesketh 308 car, in both World Championship and non-Championship races, before joining the McLaren team at the end of 1975. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the 1976 World Drivers’ Championship, and he remained with the team for a further two years, although with less success, before moving to the Wolf team in early 1979. Following a string of races in which he failed to finish, Hunt retired from driving halfway through the 1979 season.

After retiring from racing in 1979, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman, commenting on Grands Prix for the BBC. He was known for his knowledge, insights, dry sense of humour and his criticism of drivers who, he believed, were not trying hard enough, which in the process brought him a whole new fanbase and He was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame on 29 January 2014.

Sir Jackie Stewart OBE

Scottish former racing driver Sir John Young ‘Jackie’ Stewart, OBE was born 11th June 1939. Nicknamed the ‘Flying Scot’, he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers’ Championships. He also competed in Can-Am. He is well known in the United States as a color commentator (pundit) of racing television broadcasts, and as a spokesman for Ford, where his Scottish accent has made him a distinctive presence. Between 1997 and 1999, in partnership with his son, Paul, he was team principal of the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One racing team. In 2009 he was ranked fifth of the fifty greatest Formula One drivers of all time and is considered one of the greatest figures of motor racing.”

His racing career began In 1964 when he drove in Formula Three for Tyrrell. His debut, in the wet at Snetterton on 15 March, was dominant, taking an astounding 25 second lead in just two laps before coasting home to a win on a 44 second cushion. Within days, he was offered a Formula One ride with Cooper, but declined, preferring to gain experience under Tyrrell; he failed to win just two races and became F3 champion. After running John Coombs’ E-type and practising in a Ferrari at Le Mans, he took a trial in an F1 Lotus 33-Climax, in which he impressed Colin Chapman and Jim Clark. Stewart went to the Lotus Formula Two team and In his F2 debut, he was second at the difficult Clermont-Ferrand circuit in a Lotus 32-Cosworth. While he signed with BRM alongside Graham Hill in 1965 his first race in an F1 car was for Lotus, as stand-in for an injured Clark, in December 1964; the Lotus broke during the first race, but won the second. On his F1 debut in South Africa, he scored his first Championship point, finishing sixth. His first major competition victory came in the BRDC International Trophy in the late spring, and before the end of the year he won his first World Championship race at Monza, fighting wheel-to-wheel with teammate Hill’s P261. Stewart finished his rookie season with three seconds, a third, a fifth, and a sixth, and third place in the World Drivers’ Championship.

He also piloted Tyrrell’s unsuccessful F2 Cooper T75-BRM, and ran the Rover Company’s revolutionary turbine car at Le Mans. 1966 saw him almost win the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt, in John Mecom’s Lola T90-Ford, only to be denied by a broken scavenge pump while leading by over a lap with eight laps to go; however, Stewart’s performance, having had the race fully in hand and sidelined only by mechanical failure, won him Rookie of the Year honours despite the winner, Graham Hill, also being an Indianapolis rookie. Also, in 1966, a crash triggered his fight for improved safety in racing. On lap one of the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, when sudden rain caused many crashes, he found himself trapped in his overturned BRM, getting soaked by leaking fuel. The marshals had no tools to help him. Since then, a main switch for electrics and a removable steering wheel have become standard. Also, noticing the long and slow transport to a hospital, he brought his own doctor to future races, while the BRM supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all. It was a poor year all around; the BRMs were notoriously unreliable, although Stewart did win the Monaco Grand Prix. Stewart had some success in other forms of racing during the year, winning the 1966 Tasman Series and the 1966 Rothmans 12 Hour International Sports Car Race. BRM’s fortunes did not improve in 1967, during which Stewart came no higher than second at Spa, though he won F2 events for Tyrrell at Karlskoga, Enna, Oulton Park, and Albi. He also placed 2nd driving a works-entered Ferrari driving with Chris Amon at the BOAC 6 Hours at Brands Hatch, the 10th round of World Sportscar Championship at the time.

In Formula One, he switched to Tyrrell’s Matra International team for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Skill (and improving tyres from Dunlop) brought a win in heavy rain at Zandvoort. Another win in rain and fog at the Nürburgring, where he won by a margin of four minutes. He also won at Watkins Glen, but missed Jarama and Monaco due to an F2 injury at Jarama. His car failed at Mexico City, and so lost the driving title to Hill. In 1969, Stewart had a number of races where he completely dominated the opposition, such as winning by over 2 laps at Montjuïc, a whole minute at Clemont-Ferrand and more than a lap at Silverstone. With additional wins at Kyalami, Zandvoort, and Monza, Stewart became world champion in 1969 in a Matra MS80-Cosworth. Until September 2005, when Fernando Alonso in a Renault became champion, he was the only driver to have won the championship driving for a French marque and, as Alonso’s Renault was built in the UK, Stewart remains the only driver to win the world championship in a French-built car. For 1970, Matra (since taken over by Chrysler) insisted on using their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworths as well as the good connection to Ford. As a consequence, the Tyrrell team bought a chassis from March Engineering; Stewart took the March 701-Cosworth to wins at the Daily Mail Race of Champions and Jarama, but was soon overcome by Lotus’ new 72.

The new Tyrrell 001-Cosworth initially had a few problems, but things improved during 1971, so Stewart stayed on. Tyrrell continued to be sponsored by French fuel company Elf, and Stewart raced in a car painted French Racing Blue for many years. Stewart also continued to race sporadically in Formula Two, winning at the Crystal Palace and placing at Thruxton.A projected Le Mans appearance, to co-drive the 4.5 litre Porsche 917K with Steve McQueen, did not come off, for McQueen’s inability to get insurance. He also raced Can-Am, in the revolutionary Chaparral 2J. Stewart achieved pole position in 2 events, ahead of the dominant McLarens, but the chronic unreliability of the 2J prevented Stewart from finishing any races. Stewart went on to win the Formula One world championship in 1971 using the excellent Tyrrell 003-Cosworth, winning Spain, Monaco, France, Britain, Germany, and Canada. He also did a full season in Can-Am, driving a Carl Haas sponsored Lola T260-Chevrolet. and again in 1973. During the 1971 Can-Am series, Stewart was the only driver able to challenge the McLarens driven by Dennis Hulme and Peter Revson. Stewart won 2 races; at Mont Treblant and Mid Ohio. Stewart finished 3rd in the 1971 Can-Am Drivers Championship.

Unfortunately The stress of racing year round, and on several continents eventually caused medical problems for Stewart. During the 1972 Grand Prix season he missed Spa, due to gastritis, and had to cancel plans to drive a Can-Am McLaren, but won the Argentine, French, U.S., and Canadian Grands Prix, to come second to Emerson Fittipaldi in the drivers’ standings. Stewart also competed in a Ford Capri RS2600 in the European Touring Car Championship, with F1 teammate François Cevert and other F1 pilots, at a time where the competition between Ford and BMW was at a height. Stewart shared a Capri with F1 Tyrrell teammate François Cevert in the 1972 6 hours of Paul Ricard, finishing second. He also received an OBE. Entering the 1973 season, Stewart had decided to retire. He nevertheless won at South Africa, Belgium, Monaco, Holland, and Austria. His last (and then record-setting) 27th victory came at the Nürburgring with a convincing 1-2 for Tyrrell. “Nothing gave me more satisfaction than to win at the Nürburgring and yet, I was always afraid.” Stewart later said. “When I left home for the German Grand Prix I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I’d come home again.” After the fatal crash of his teammate François Cevert in practice for the 1973 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Stewart retired one race earlier than intended and missed what would have been his 100th GP. Stewart held the record for most wins by a Formula One driver (27) for 14 years (broken by Alain Prost in 1987) and the record for most wins by a British Formula One driver for 19 years (broken by Nigel Mansell in 1992).

Jean Alesi

French former Racing driver Jean Alesi (born Giovanni Alesi; was born June 11, 1964. He is of Italian origin and his Formula One career included spells at Tyrrell, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan and most notably Ferrari where he proved very popular among the tifosi. In 2006 Alesi was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’honneurAlesi debuted in the 1989 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard in a Tyrrell-Cosworth, replacing Michele Alboreto, finishing fourth. He drove most of the rest of the season for Tyrrell while continuing his successful Formula 0300 campaign, (occasionally giving the car up in favour of Johnny Herbert when Formula 3000 clashed), scoring points again at the Italian and Spanish Grands Prix. 1990 was his first full year in Grand Prix racing, with the underfunded Tyrrell team. At the first event, the United States Grand Prix at Phoenix, he was a sensation, leading for 25 laps in front of Ayrton Senna with a car considered as inferior, and also re-passing Senna after the Brazilian had first overtaken for the lead. Second place in the Monaco Grand Prix followed the second place gained in Phoenix, and by mid-season, top teams were clamouring for his services in 1991. A very confused situation erupted, with Tyrrell, Williams, and Ferrari all claiming to have signed the driver within a very short period.Ferrari were championship contenders at the time, and there he would be driving with fellow countryman Alain Prost, at that time the most successful driver in Formula One history.

Alesi signed with Ferrari, making the choice that not only appeared to maximize his chances for winning the championship and for learning from an experienced and successful teammate, but that fulfilled his childhood dream of driving for the Italian team.Ferrari, however, experienced a disastrous downturn in form in 1991, while the Williams team experienced a resurgence which would lead them to win five constructor’s titles between 1992 and 1997, thus becoming the most successful team of the 1990s. Alesi’s choice of Ferrari over Williams seemed the most logical at the time, but turned out to be very unfortunate. One of the reasons for this failure was because Ferrari’s famous V12 engine was no longer competitive against the smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient V10s of their competitors. Having a dismal 1991 season, Prost left the team describing the car as a “truck” and took a sabbatical. Alesi was partnered by Ivan Capelli the following year, before being joined by Austrian Gerhard Berger in 1993. Alesi injured his back after the first race of the 1994 season (Brazil) and was replaced in the Pacific Grand Prix and the infamous San Marino Grand Prix (round 3) by Nicola Larini.

In five years at the Italian marque Alesi gained little, except the passionate devotion of the tifosi, who loved his aggressive style. That style, and his use of the number 27 on his car, led many to associate him with Gilles Villeneuve, a beloved and still-popular Ferrari driver from 1977–1982. Alesi and Berger won only one race each during this period at Ferrari. Following Alesi’s first and only GP win in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix (on his 31st birthday), his Ferrari ran out of fuel as he waved to fans on the backstraight and he was given a lift back to the pits by Michael Schumacher. When Benetton’s Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, Alesi and team mate Gerhard Berger swapped places with him. Though Benetton was the defending constructors’ champions, they were about to experience a lull in form like Ferrari in 1991. Schumacher went on to rejuvenate Ferrari, while Alesi and Berger spent two seasons at a declining Benetton riddled with bad luck and internal politics. While Berger had a reasonable run at Benetton, winning the 1997 German Grand Prix after having come two laps from victory at the same race the previous year when his engine blew while he was leading within sight of the flag, Alesi’s Benetton career proved more turbulent, not helped by an embarrassing retirement in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in 1997 when he ignored several radio messages from the pit mechanics to come in for his pit stop, and continued for five laps until running out of fuel.

His form became increasingly erratic that season, including incidents at the French Grand Prix when he needlessly pushed David Coulthard off the track, and the Austrian Grand Prix, where his attempt to outbrake Eddie Irvine from nearly eight lengths behind caused a spectacular collision that saw Alesi placed under investigation for dangerous driving after the race. A pole position and eventual second place at the Italian Grand Prix were not enough to salvage his drive at Benetton, and the team released Alesi at the end of the 1997 season.Alesi moved on, initially to Sauber and later Prost, the latter which was owned by his former Ferrari teammate Alain Prost. With Prost, Alesi was consistent, finishing every race, occasionally in points scoring positions, his best finish being at Canada.A fallout after the British Grand Prix, however saw Alesi walk out after the German Grand Prix, where he scored a point. The reason was because of the German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen was suddenly sacked by Jordan after the British Grand Prix and he needed a drive, he was interested in joining the Prost team. Alesi finally decided to leave Prost after the German Grand Prix in order give way to Frentzen. Then, Alesi joined Jordan and eventually swapped teams. Alesi ended his open-wheel career in 2001 with Jordan, bookending his career nicely: Alesi had driven for Jordan in Formula 3000 when he won the championship in 1989.

Alesi was often regarded as flamboyant, emotional and aggressive, but after his spectacular performance at Phoenix in 1990, his career was notable more for its “bad luck” and longevity than for its final results. In 2001, he became only the fifth driver to start 200 Grand Prix races, and he achieved thirty-two podiums, yet he only gained one victory. It could be suggested that Alesi’s potential was unfulfilled – some say he spent his peak years during the uncompetitive period at Ferrari – retiring while in the lead or in 2nd place in no less than 9 races but somehow he was unlucky when driving for Benetton too, losing the lead of the Italian GP both in 1996 and 1997 after relatively slow pitstops and Monaco 1996 retiring with suspension failure. His sole win was an emotional triumph at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on his 31st birthday.

Alesi’s win at Montreal was voted the most popular race victory of the season by many, as it was the scarlet red number 27 Ferrari – once belonging to the famous Gilles Villeneuve at his much loved home Grand Prix. Memorably, Schumacher gave Alesi a lift back to the pits after Alesi’s car ran out of fuel just before the Pits Hairpin. Alesi would never win another Formula One Grand Prix, although later in 1995 at Monza his right-rear wheel bearing failed while he was leading with 9 laps to go, then at the Nürburgring severely worn tyres broke his defence of the lead with two laps remaining and he was passed by Michael Schumacher. In 1996 suspension failure with ten laps left prevented him from taking victory at Monaco (although he had led this race only after Damon Hill, who had held a commanding lead for the first half of the race, was forced to retire on lap 40 when his Renault engine blew up in the Tunnel) while in 1997 he led the Italian Grand Prix from pole before relinquishing the lead to David Coulthard courtesy of a slow pit stop during the race.

Colin Chapman CBE

Influential English design engineer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry, and founder of Lotus Cars Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman CBE, was born 19 May 1928. Chapman studied structural engineering at University College London, joined the University Air Squadron and learned to fly. Chapman left UCL without a degree in 1948, resitting his final Mathematics paper in 1949 and obtaining his degree a year late. He briefly joined the Royal Air Force in 1948, being offered a permanent commission but turning this down in favour of a swift return to civilian life. After a couple of false starts Chapman joined the British Aluminium company, using his civil engineering skills to attempt to sell aluminium as a viable structural material for buildings.

In 1948 Chapman started building the Mk1, a modified Austin 7, which he entered privately into local racing events. He named the car “Lotus”. With prize money he developed the Lotus Mk2. With continuing success on through the Lotus 6, he began to sell kits of these cars. Over 100 were sold through 1956. It was with the Lotus 7 in 1957 that things really took off. In the 1950s, Chapman progressed through the motor racing formulae, designing and building a series of racing cars, sometimes to the point of maintaining limited production as they were so successful and highly sought after, until he arrived in Formula One. Besides his engineering work, he also piloted a Vanwall F1-car in 1956 but crashed into his teammate Mike Hawthorn during practice for the French Grand Prix at Reims, ending his career as a race driver and focusing him on the technical side. Along with John Cooper, he revolutionised the premier motor sport. Their small, lightweight mid-engined vehicles gave away much in terms of power, but superior handling meant their competing cars often beat the all-conquering front engined Ferraris and Maseratis. Eventually, with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel of his race cars, Team Lotus appeared as though they could win whenever they pleased. With Clark driving the legendary Lotus 25, Team Lotus won its first F1 World Championship in 1963. It was Clark, driving a Lotus 38 at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, who drove the first ever mid-engined car to victory at the fabled “Brickyard.” Clark and Chapman had become particularly close and Clark’s death devastated Chapman, who publicly stated that he had lost his best friend.

Among a number of legendary automotive figures who have been Lotus employees over the years were Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, founders of Cosworth. Graham Hill worked at Lotus as a mechanic as a means of earning drives. In 1952 he founded the sports car company Lotus Cars. Chapman initially ran Lotus in his spare time, assisted by a group of enthusiasts. His knowledge of the latest aeronautical engineering techniques would prove vital towards achieving the major automotive technical advances he is remembered for. He was famous for saying “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”, as his design philosophy focused on cars with light weight and fine handling instead of bulking up on horsepower and spring rates. Under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructors’ titles, six Drivers’ Championships, and the Indianapolis 500 in the United States, between 1962 and 1978. The production side of Lotus Cars has built tens of thousands of relatively affordable, cutting edge sports cars. Lotus is one of but a handful of English performance car builders still in business after the industrial decline of the 1970s. Although these days Lotus is owned by the Malaysian Automotive Company “Proton”, Caterham Cars still manufacture the Caterham 7 based on the Lotus 7, and there have been over 90 different Lotus 7 clones, replicas and derivatives offered to the public by a variety of makers.

Chapman sadly passed away on 16th December 1982, aged 54 after suffering a fatal heart attack, and on The day he died, Team Lotus was testing the first Formula One car with active suspension, which eventually made its début with the Lotus 99T in 1987, however he pioneered many innovations and Many of Chapman’s ideas can still be seen in Formula One and other top-level motor sport (such as IndyCars) today. Such as struts as a rear suspension device. Even today, struts used in the rear of a vehicle are known as Chapman struts, while virtually identical suspension struts for the front are known as MacPherson struts, monocoque chassis construction, the tube-frame chassis, positive aerodynamic downforce, through the addition of wings, moving radiators away from the front of the car to the sides, to decrease frontal area (lowering aerodynamic drag). He also designed a car that generated all of its downforce through ground effect, eliminating the need for wings, active suspension and a dual-chassis Formula One car.

Henri Toivonen

Having watched him hurtling through the Welsh Forests many a time during the The RAC Rally I thought I would write about rally Driver Henri Toivonen who was tragically killed 2 May 1986 whilst competing in the Tour de Corse Rally on Corsica

He was born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland. His father, Pauli Toivonen, was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche and his brother, Harri Toivonen, became a professional circuit racer. Toivonen’s first World Rally Championship victory came with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1980 Lombard RAC Rally in Great Britain, just after his 24th birthday. He had the record of being the youngest driver ever to win a world rally until his countryman Jari-Matti Latvala won the 2008 Swedish Rally at the age of 22. After driving for Opel and Porsche, Toivonen was signed by Lancia. Despite nearly ending up paralysed at the Rally Costa Smeralda early in 1985, he returned to rallying later that year. He won the last event of the season, the RAC Rally, as well as the 1986 season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, which his father had won exactly 20 years earlier. Toivonen, driving a Lancia Delta S4, died in an accident on 2 May 1986 while leading the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. His American co-driver, Sergio Cresto, also died when the Lancia plunged down a ravine and exploded. The fatal accident had no close witnesses and the only remains of the car were the blackened spaceframe, making it impossible to determine the cause of the accident. Within hours of the accident, Jean-Marie Balestre, then President of the FISA, banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season, ending rallying’s popular supercar era.

Toivonen started his career in circuit racing and was also very competitive on tarmac. He raced successfully in two World Sportscar Championship events and achieved praise from Eddie Jordan, in whose Formula Three team Toivonen made a few guest appearances. In his Formula One test for March Grand Prix, Toivonen managed to lap over a second quicker than the team’s regular driver. It is often reported that during the 1986 Rally Portugal, he drove his Delta S4 at the Estoril track, and recorded a lap time which would have qualified him in sixth position at that year’s Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix. The annual Race of Champions, originally organised in Toivonen’s memory, awards the winning individual driver the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy.