2nd of December – Today is David Piper’s birthday and, luckily, he is still able to commemorate it after a brush with death during filming for Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” movie. A blown tire sent the Porsche 917K into the barriers at high speed, crashing into the rails at both sides of the track, it broke in two, with both halves coming to rest in a ditch. Piper initially only broke a leg in this massive crash, but due to an infection ended up having his lower leg amputated. In the background you can see a startled Steve McQueen looking at the remains of the 917K. None of these shots actually appeared in the movie.
2/12/1937, 70 years ago, Christopher Bristow is born in London, UK.
Chris Bristow was discovered by Alfred Moss and Ken Gregory, father and manager of Stirling Moss and owners of the then newly founded squad British Racing Partnership (BRP). Bristow showed great promisse in F2 as well as non-championship F1 races and soon rated as a man with a great future. When battling in the top five at Spa-Francorchamps, his only fourth GP, Bristow’s Cooper T51 went of the track, rolled heavily decapitating the driver. Two laps later Alan Stacey would suffer an equally fatal crash.
Born: 2nd of December 1937 in London, UK.
Died: 19th of June 1960 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, aged 22.
Piper came from a farming family who made a fat profit when the M1 motorway was driven through their land. He raced a Lotus 16 in the 1959 and 60 British Grands Prix, but then concentrated on a hugely successful sports car career as Ferrari’s most successful privateer. He lost his right lower leg in an horror shunt while filming scenes for Steve McQueen’s Le Mans movie in 1970 but raced on in historic events with machinery of his own collection for some years thereafter.