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Formula 1

Remembering F1's 'forgotten' darkest race

The 1960 Belgian Grand Prix is one of the darkest races in the history of the Formula 1 world championship, and took place on June 19th, 1960.

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In the 1,110 Formula 1 world championship grands prix up until the Canadian Grand Prix, 32 drivers have been killed. 

Onofre Marimon, a protege of Juan Manuel Fangio, was the first to die during practice for the 1954 German GP at the Nurburgring, with Jules Bianchi the latest to die after the injuries he sustained in the 2014 Japanese GP. 

Of those deaths, F1 has been mercifully fortunate in that more than one driver death in a race weekend has occurred only twice. 

Not counting the Indy 500s of 1955 and 1959, where multiple deaths occurred during the month of May, only at the 1960 Belgian and 1994 San Marino races have more than one driver been lost. 

The events of Imola are well-known as three decades recently turned into four, but the 1960 visit to Spa stands alone as the only race to feature multiple driver fatalities on a dark weekend in the Ardennes Forest.

1960 Belgian Grand Prix

The race was held on the fearsome old 8.7-mile Spa, which headed off into the Belgian forest where the Les Coombes chicane now sits. 

The troubles started in practice, which was marred by serious accidents to Stirling Moss and Mike Taylor. 

Moss suffered two broken legs in a crash at Burnenville after his Lotus shed a wheel at the fast right-hand curve which would put him out of action for nearly a year whilst Taylor's career was ended by his accident at Stavelot after a steering failure.

For the 36-lap race, it was relatively trouble-free for the first 20 tours, with Jack Brabham leading from pole until Briton Chris Bristow crashed at the Malmedy kink. 

Bristow, in just his fourth grand prix was beheaded by the barbed wire with fellow British driver Alan Stacey killed just four laps later at the Masta kink.

Stacey was probably hit in the face by a bird, and lost control, somersaulting off into a field, where his Lotus caught fire, and still trapped in the wreckage, Stacey was burned to death, although it is not known in the bird strike killed him outright.

As was the case in this era, the race continued on with Brabham taking the second of five consecutive wins. 

22-year-old Bristow was later likened by Moss to an earlier Jean Alesi, a driver of speed and skill but could never quite piece everything together.

26-year-old Stacey was actually an amputee racer, with his lower right leg missing after a motorcycle accident as a teenager and was in his seventh grand prix when he was killed.

Also interesting:

Join Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, looking ahead to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. 

The trio discuss how significant this weekend is in the title fight, whether Red Bull's advantage will return and if Andrea Kimi Antonelli will now make his F1 debut at just 17 years old. Much, much more is also discussed! 

Rather watch then listen to our podcast? Click here.

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