BIOGRAPHY
Chris Amon Full Name Christopher Arthur Amon
Nationality New Zealander
Born 20 July 1943, Bulls
Died 3 August 2016, Rotorua – 73 years
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FORMULA 1 CAREER
Entries Races Non-Starts Poles Wins Podiums F/L Pts DNFs
108 96 12 5 0 11 3 83 45
First Grand Prix Last Grand Prix
1963 Belgian Grand Prix 1976 German Grand Prix
Season Team Chassis Engine Races Poles Wins Podiums F/L Pts Rank
1963 Reg Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A
Lotus 24
Climax 1.5 V8
BRM 1.5 V8
5
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NC
1964 Reg Parnell Racing Lotus 25 BRM 1.5 V8
Climax 1.5 V8
7
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
16th
1965 Reg Parnell Racing
Ian Raby Racing
Lotus 25
Brabham BT3
BRM 1.5 V8 2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NC
1966 Cooper
Privé
Cooper T81
Brabham BT11
Maserati 3.0 V12
BRM 1.9 V8
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NC
1967 Ferrari 312/67 Ferrari 3.0 V12 10 0 0 4 0 20 5th
1968 Ferrari 312/67
312/67/68
312/68
Ferrari 3.0 V12 1
2
8
0
2
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
3
0
7
10th
1969 Ferrari 312/69 Ferrari 3.0 V12 6 0 0 1 0 4 12th
1970 March 701 Cosworth 3.0 V8 13 0 0 3 1 23 8th
1971 Matra MS120B Matra 3.0 V12 10 1 0 1 0 9 11th
1972 Matra MS120C
MS120D
Matra 3.0 V12 5
6
0
1
0
0
0
1
1
1
5
7
10th
1973 Tecno
Tyrrell
PA123B
005
Cosworth 3.0 V8 4
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
21st
1974 Amon
BRM
AF101
P201
Cosworth 3.0 V8
BRM 3.0 V12
1
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NC
1975 Ensign N175 Cosworth 3.0 V8 2 0 0 0 0 0 NC
1976 Ensign
Wolf
N174 / N176
Williams FW05
Cosworth 3.0 V8 8
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
18th
OTHER CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Season Series Team Races Poles Wins Podiums F/L Pts Rank
1964 Tasman Series Reg Parnell Racing 4 0 0 0 0 0 NC
1965 Le Mans 24 Hours (P +5) Shelby-American 1 0 0 0 DNF
1966 Le Mans 24 Hours (P +5) Shelby-American 1 1 1 1 1st
1967 Daytona 24 Hours
Le Mans 24 Hours (P +5)
Monza 1000Km
SpA Ferrari SEFAC 1
1
1
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
1




1st
DNF
1st
1968 Tasman Series
International Trophy
Gold Cup
Chris Amon Racing
Scuderia Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
8
1
1
3
0
0
2
0
0
4
1
0
3
1
1
36

2nd
3rd
2nd
1969 Tasman Series
Le Mans 24 Hours (P 3.0)
Scuderia Veloce
SpA Ferrari SEFAC
7
1
2
0
4
0
6
0
2
0
44
1st
DNF
1970 International Trophy March Engineering 1 1 1 1 1 1st
1971 Argentine Grand Prix
Tasman Series
Le Mans 24 Hours (P 3.0)
Matra Sports
STP Corporation
Matra-Simca
1
5
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
2
0
1
0
0

15
1st
5th
DNF
1972 Le Mans 24 Hours (P 3.0) Matra-Simca 1 0 0 0 0 DNF
1973 Le Mans 24 Hours (T 5.0) BMW Motorsport 1 0 0 0 0 DNF
1975 Tasman Series McCormack Racing 8 0 1 1 0 17 5th

Chris Amon


Biography

Amon was a member of the well-known trio of New Zealand drivers, alongside Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, to race in Formula 1 in the 1960s and early 1970s, although he would sadly never reach their levels of success.  That being said, he did win both the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans, the latter being achieved in 1966 in a Ford GT40 alongside McLaren.

Amon’s talent and speed were rarely in doubt, but the same could not be said for his ability to find himself in the right team or car at the right time.  Frequent mechanically-induced retirements – along with the odd crash, to be fair – blighted his potential and gave him the unwanted sobriquet of the most talented driver never to win a World Championship Grand Prix, as well as for driving for the most number of teams in the sport’s history.

“He was endowed with tremendous natural talent, but he was never sufficiently organised to take advantage of his own ability. He was always signing for the wrong team at the wrong time.” – Jackie Stewart, Jackie Stewart’s Principles of Performance Driving (1986)

Born in the small town of Bulls in New Zealand’s North Island, Amon grew up as the sole child on his parents’ sheep and cattle farm.  He learned to drive by the age of six and his interest in motorsport was struck in his early teenage years after reading a magazine report about the 1956 French Grand Prix.

After leaving school, he started racing an Austin A40 Special in local events before graduating to a 1.5-litre Cooper Climax.  Later on, he got his hands on a World Championship-winning Maserati 250F – while it was getting very long in the tooth, he showed well in a field that included the likes of Stirling Moss.

It was in 1962 that Amon earned the break that would propel him to Europe.  Spotted by fellow racing driver-turned team owner Reg Parnell, he was invited by the Englishman to race for his eponymous team the following year.  After showing well in pre-season events at Goodwood and Aintree, he made his Formula 1 debut as a 19-year-old in a year-old Lola Climax.  He started eight races that year, with a pair of seventh places being his best result.

He stayed on at Parnell’s team for 1964 – now driving a BRM-powered Lotus – and earned his first points’ finish with fifth place at Zandvoort.  Parnell’s team secured the use of BRM engines for 1965, but only if the team ran Richard Attwood as its driver – Amon was sidelined but for a pair of race outings when Attwood was injured, neither of which he finished.

Just two further outings came in 1966, but Ferrari was willing to take a risk on this young driver and hired him for the 1967 season as its fourth driver.  By mid-season, Amon was the only one left: Lorenzo Bandini was killed at Monte Carlo, Mike Parkes was badly injured at Spa-Francorchamps, and Ludovico Scarfiotti fell out with the management and was fired.  Four third-placed finishes were the highlight en route to finishing fifth overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

He should have won the championship the following year.  He started from pole position four times but failed to finish on seven occasions in eleven races as his Ferrari 312 suffered countless reliability woes.  The 1969 season was even worse: he finished just once – on the podium, no less – in seven outings.

Frustrated by the Italian team’s woes, Amon jumped ship to the March Engineering team for 1970, where victory at the non-championship International Trophy proved to be a rare highlight, before moving to the French Matra equipe in 1971.  He lost a comfortable lead in the 1972 French Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand thanks to a puncture…

He moved on to the Tecno team for 1973 – their car was hopeless – and then underscored his total lack of luck by deciding to build and enter his own car.  The AF101 was a weak chassis and the venture was a total failure: he retired from the car’s first race, withdrew from the second before the start and failed to qualify for two more races before the team closed down due to financial problems.

His career had a brief revival with a few outings for BRM and Ensign, and he had one further outing with the Wolf-Williams merger at the 1976 Canadian Grand Prix.  After being T-boned in qualifying, a shaken but uninjured Amon elected to retire from Grand Prix racing.

With almost 100 Grands Prix to his credit – nineteen of which were started from the front row of the grid – Amon’s best results were a trio of second place finishes.  If ever a man and machine could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, that unfortunate mantle would rest with Amon.

He retired from racing for good after one CanAm outing and his seat was taken by the then-unknown Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve, whom Amon would subsequently recommend to Enzo Ferrari.

Amon returned to New Zealand to manage the family farm for many years.  In later years, he moved to the town of Taupo and enjoyed a stint test driving vehicles for the locally-produced Motor Show television series and later served as a consultant for Toyota New Zealand.

He was awarded an MBE in 1993, inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and involved in the redesign of the Taupo Motorsport Park circuit which played host to the A1 Grand Prix championship.

A supporter of nurturing young local talent, Amon’s name was lent to the Chris Amon International Scholarship to provide funding to each winner of the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series.

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