Former Grand Prix driver Ian Burgess has died, aged 81

Sad news to report today, with confirmation that former Grand Prix racer Ian Burgess passed away at the age of 81. The Englishman started a total of 16 World Championship Grands Prix in an on-off F1 career between 1958 and 1963.

London-born Burgess created plenty of waves in 1951 by winning the Eifelrennen 500cc race at the Nurburgring in pouring rain, beating for more established F1 drivers like Ken Wharton and Peter Whitehead.

While that level of success wouldn’t be repeated for a few more years, a switch to the Cooper factory team would finally yield an upswing in performance.

He was initially employed as a driver coach for the team’s younger pilots, but he nagged the team’s management enough to give him a few outings in their Formula 2 machinery.

A fourth-placed finish at the 1957 Gold Cup at Oulton Park was rewarded with a full season in 1958, and he started the year brilliantly to win at Crystal Palace at Snetterton. He performed well in overseas events too, but his year was cut short when he broke his leg in a crash at the terrifying AVUS circuit.

Before the crash, he’d already made his Formula 1 debut, retiring with a clutch failure at the British Grand Prix, but finishing seventh overall (and third in the Formula 2 ranks) at the Nurburgring.

He was back in the cockpit in 1959, dovetailing his Formula 2 duties with appearances for the Scuderia Centro Sud F1 team, driving one of their Maserati-powered Cooper T51 challengers for the next two seasons.

He switched to the American Camoradi International team in 1961 and competed in one of their Lotus 18 cars with moderate results, and joined the Anglo American Equipe team in 1962.

imageHis final year of racing saw him join the new Scirocco F1 team (pictured left), but that was a non-event for all concerned and he parted ways after two Grands Prix, neither of which he finished.

After retiring from racing, he moved to the London suburb of Harrow, passing away on Saturday at the age of 81.

The team extends its condolences to Ian’s family and friends.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.