German pilot Wolfgang von Trips was aiming for the title of world champion. He died in the crash, which is still the biggest tragedy in the history of Formula 1.
Fate gave the native of Cologne, who would have celebrated his 95th birthday today, a life of just 33 years. During that time, however, the rider from an aristocratic family from the Rhineland was able to conquer the world of racing circuits.
A monument to Wolfgang von Trips at his home circuit – the German Nürburgring. | Photo: Radek Vičík
“Taffy”, as he was nicknamed, suffered from diabetes, but that didn’t stop him from making his Formula 1 debut at the age of 28.
Already a year later, he literally escaped the gravedigger’s shovel. He skidded on the dangerous Nürburgring and totally destroyed his Ferrari. He suffered a severe concussion from the carom.
He was loyal to the brand from Maranello almost throughout his short racing career. He completed most of his 27 Grand Prix starts in her car and celebrated two victories.
Unfortunately, he also died in it on September 10, 1961.
He arrived at Monza as the world championship leader with a four-point lead over Scuderia team-mate Phil Hill (then there were only nine points to win). He only needed to finish third to win the title.
With the extremely fast track of the Italian Grand Prix, the championship leader had bad experiences from previous years. He crashed here in the 1956 and 1958 seasons, and in both cases it ended in injury.
“The trees around the track remind me of a cemetery alley,” von Trips is said to have said to one of the mechanics before the start of the fatal race.
It was the last season when the Italian Grand Prix was partly run on a concrete inclined track. It was on the straight before the banked corner that the German collided with the Lotus of Briton Jim Clark.
The Ferrari went airborne, hit the embankment on the outside of the track and crashed into a fence behind which spectators had crowded.
On September 10, 1961, at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, a crash causes the death of German driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators hit by his Ferrari. pic.twitter.com/CsxYkFI4EB
— MMJYBBJWIdols (@MMJYBBJWIdols) September 10, 2020
The result of the crash was terrifying.
In addition to von Trips, who fell out and broke his neck, the car killed fifteen other people. Eleven of them died on the spot, four more in the hospital. To this day, it is the worst accident in the history of the World Cup.
The German count died true to his noble honor. “I can’t live without taking risks. Motor racing reminds me of medieval tournaments, and thus of knights and my ancestors. That’s something I need,” he once declared.
And he left the world as a knight, his steed alone had almost 200 horsepower.
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