1st of February – Today is the birthday of Swiss driver Xavier Perrot and it’s worthwhile to recall a little story about Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt organizing a strike, refusing to race at the dangerous Nordschleife with F1 cars in 1970 and taking the German GP to Hockenheim. The organizer of the Nürburgring race called them a bunch of sissies, put the race on for the 2nd of August 1970 with Formula 2 cars instead and called it “the Grand Prix for real men”. Xavi won the race in this yellow March 702, which, by the way, was the first car FIA-President Max Mosley ever managed to sell from his new race car production line in Bicester to a customer.
A proven hill climb specialist, Xavier Perrot had his debut in the Formula 1 World Championship at the 1969 German Grand Prix, but driving his customary Brabham BT23C he used to race in the European F2 Championship finishing in 10th position. His only opportunity to race an F1 March 701 came 1971 at a non-championship event at the Motodrom in Hockenheim. But finishing four laps behind the leading pack gave a clear signal that it would be best to concentrate on hill climbs, duly rewarding his efforts with the European title in 1972.
Brother to 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann, Richard helped his younger brother to enter a race while underage in 1946 by letting him race under the name “Jim”. He chose the name “Dick” for his own entry and it stuck. After two seasons with ChampCars in 1949 and 1950 he moved to NASCAR the following season. Among others feats, he became the first driver ever to win from last on the grid with his victory in the 1954 Oakland round. Dick appears in Formula 1 statistics as scoring one pole position, but that obviously being for the 1958 Indianapolis 500. He became the first Indy pole-sitter to fail to complete a single lap as he got involved in a mass-collision which cost the life of Pat O’Connor.
Born: 6th of January 1926 in Los Angeles, USA.
Died: 1st of February 2000 in Melbourne, Australia, aged 74.