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AUGUST


1 August 1959
Jean BehraHe lived not for fame or glory but for racing. Recently fired by Ferrari, with his options for a competitive drive growing shorter, facing a future without racing he drove in a sports car race at Avus prior to the German Grand Prix. Desperate to prove his worth to the other Grand Prix teams, he spun his car on the treacherous banking and so died Jean Behra. Born in Nice in 1921 he was considered France's top driver during the 1950's. Loved by his countrymen for his never-say-die style even when driving hopelessly uncompetitive cars, he rose from the bottom first as a cycling champion then on to motorcycles and finally cars. Jean Behra at Antree - 1955Speed being the common denominator, Fangio described him as being "too brave". Behra was also an excellent mechanic who designed and built his own Formula 2 car but racing was what he loved best. Joining Ferrari he expected that finally would he have the success that he felt he deserved. Soon Behra became frustrated by Ferrari's seeming inability to thwart the onslaught of the rear-engined Coopers on all but the fastest power circuits. He began to abuse his cars in a mad bid to stay with the leaders, his private title hopes draining away with each new defeat. One engine breakdown too often caused an argument with the Ferrari team manager Romulo Tavoni, which resulted in Tavoni being felled by a single punch from his angry and nowsoon to be unemployed driver. His meeting with destiny was only days away.

3 August 1899
Louis ChironOn this date Louis Chiron was born the son of a French hotelier in Monaco he became that principalities most famous sportsman. According to Rudolf Caracciola: "Before a race he used to walk round his car, stroke it, talk to it as if to a horse and then sit smilingly at the wheel." Like his friend Rene Dreyfus his name will be forever tied to that of the Bugatti that he raced so well.

8 August 1953
mansell.jpg (17231 bytes)You could either love him or hate him but never could you ignore him. The pride of Britain he had his detractors but the results he obtained told the real story as he dueled wheel to wheel with the some of the greatest champions of the modern era. Names like Piquet, Prost, Senna and yes Mansell make the current crop seem somehow shallow. Nothing ever came easy for Mansell, which may have colored how he saw the world and his place in it.

17 August 1952
piquet.jpg (10294 bytes)Nelson Piquet won three World Championships driving for Brabham and Williams. One of three great Brazilian champions his popularity never matched the other two. Part of the quartet of champions that raced in the 80s and 90s along with Prost, Mansell and Senna. Criticized during his later years for uninspired driving he never the less continued to be successful when the urge drove him.

29 August 1947
hunt.jpg (20666 bytes)James Hunt was known as "Hunt the Shunt" in his early days. This larger than life figure rose to become a World Champion for McLaren. Famous for his fast living as well as fast driving. He could be both charming and rude at the same time but when the chips were down he was a man that you wanted on your side. In the last years of his career he had lost his fire but those that raced the young Hunt attest to his greatness, so much so that no less a driver than Jochen Mass asserted that Hunt was the fastest driver that he ever competed against. That this fearless driver would later die of a heart attack after retirement seems almost inexplicable.

30 August 1937
mclaren.jpg (17100 bytes)Bruce McLaren was born on this day in Auckland, New Zealand. As a child he suffered from a crippling disease called Perthes Disease. Known to most Americans for his domination of the legendary Can-Am series he was also Formula 1's youngest race winner. Following in the footsteps of his Australian neighbor Jack Brabham first at Cooper and then on to his own team which would compete in Formula 1, Indianapolis as well as Can-Am.