Today we extend our happy birthday wishes to former Grand Prix drivers Richard ‘Dickie’ Attwood and Christian Danner!
Turning 71 today, Attwood was the son of a successful motor trader and his first foray into motorsport came at the wheel of a Triumph TR3 in 1960.
He switched to Formula Junior in 1963 and gained international attention when he won the Formula Junior support race at Monaco.
By 1965, Attwood had made his Grand Prix debut with Reg Parnell, finishing sixth at both Italy and Mexico. No F1 drive was on the cards for the following year, but he made a single appearance in 1967 with Cooper before coming back to the sport with the BRM team in 1968 when Mike Spence was killed. First time out, he finished in second place at Monaco behind race-winner Damon Hill.
But his form wasn’t to be repeated and he was cast out of BRM’s line-up for the following year, and returned for just two more outings before going on to win the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours with Hans Herrmann. He retired from the sport in 1971 but is a fixture at revival meetings, performing a demonstration run at last year’s Goodwood festivals.
Click here for Richard Attwood’s complete F1 results.
Turning 53 today, Christian Danner’s pursuit of motorsport is not without plenty of irony, for his father – an automotive engineer – was one of the first leading researchers to campaign for law changes to reduce motor accident fatalities.
Danner started out racing Renault 5s while completing his own studies in mechanical engineering before he was talent-scouted to join the Cassani Racing Team in the German Group 4 series in 1980.
Some solid performances in Procar saw him spotted by BMW motorsport boss Dieter Stappert, who signed the young German to drive for BMW’s Formula 2 team – by 1983, Danner was a frontrunner in the series, while also maintaining a full-time role with BMW in the European Touring Car Championship.
In 1985, Danner scraped together the necessary funding to secure himself a seat in the inaugural Formula 3000 championship, which he won, and in doing so he became the first German to win an international motorsport title in the modern era.
His reward was two F1 outings at the end of the year with the Zakspeed concern. He joined Osella for the start of 1986, and it was his connections with BMW that saw him helicoptered into Arrows mid-season after Marc Surer’s career-ending rally accident. He took his first championship point with sixth place at the attrition-hit Austrian Grand Prix.
He returned to Zakspeed for 1987, but was generally outperformed by Martin Brundle in the sister car, which enjoyed its usual bout of unreliability.
A tall man, Danner was – in many eyes – too tall for the sport, and he was sidelined without a drive in 1988 before making a return in 1989, at the Rial team run by the mercurial Gunther Schmid. A freak fourth place at Phoenix (pictured) was the sole highlight, and the team collapsed before the season had finished.
With no more F1 drivers on offer, Danner went to Japan and its Formula 3000 scene before embarking on an unsuccessful tilt at IndyCars.
Tin-top racing beckoned and in 1992 he won the Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hours races, as well as ITC races at Helsinki and the Norisring in 1995 in the ITC with Alfa Romeo.
After a brief stint as a team manager with the Project Indy CART team in the mid-1990s, Danner turned to TV commentary and has been a regular on Germany’s RTL F1 commentary team.
Click here for Christian Danner’s complete F1 results.
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