Remember The 47

The funeral for Ayrton Senna recorded the second-largest gathering of mourners in history. An estimated 3,000,000 lined the streets in Sao Paulo to pay their respects.

Ayrton Senna’s funeral recorded the second-largest gathering of mourners in history. An estimated 3,000,000 lined the streets in Sao Paulo to pay their respects.

With the annual rush of sympathetic messages for the late Ayrton Senna flowing, it’s perhaps the greatest tragedy in Formula One history that for the most part the Grand Prix community remembers only one date in which to mourn the loss of a single driver; a great driver no doubt, but one driver none the less. It’s of great significance when contrasted against the popular “Lest We Forget” attitude held in high esteem within the motoring world, an attitude that you’d think would surely cater for the 47 drivers who lost their lives between 1950 and 1994 at the wheel during a Formula One World Championship event.

It’s disappointing that though we know many of their names well, one driver – largely because of his popularity in a time when Formula One was regularly being reached in homes around the world for the first time – receives substantially greater mourning than those who fell before him. Do I suggest he – why don’t we give him a name? Do I suggest Ayrton receives too great a memorial with each passing year? Again, no; life celebration shouldn’t receive less interest as the years roll further away from one’s passing – but what about those who receive so little recognition? What of Mario Alborghetti; Manny Ayulo; Bill Vukovich; Eugenio Castellotti; Keith Andrews; Pat O’Connor; Luigi Musso; Peter Collins; Stuart Lewis-Evans; Jerry Unser, Jr.; Bob Cortner; Chris Bristow; and Alan Stacey? I’d continue – and it’d be right to do so – but one can only write down so many names of deceased men as examples before their names lose personality and become only titles.

What may strike as even more tragic is that each of those drivers – 13 of them – were killed in Formula One machinery between the years of 1955 and 1961.

Where are the annual memorials for Luigi Musso; Stuart Lewis-Evans; Alan Stacey; Jo Schlesser; Piers Courage and Helmuth Koinigg? They never saw themselves become World Champions, but were taken in the very same manner as Ayrton Senna. Where are the annual tributes to these men? You needn’t search, because for the most part they don’t exist. If they do, they’re published only by most niche of outlets.

Do not forget the champion lost on May 1, 1994. His great sacrifice, along with that of Austrian driver  Roland Ratzenberger – the rookie who lost his life just a day before – sparked a fuse that ignited Formula One’s relentless pushes for safety that have dominated the sport’s regulations for 19 years. Two gladiators were taken well before their time at the San Marino Grand Prix that year, but while you mourn Ayrton and Roland, don’t forget the 47 others who perished in the 44 years prior. It is the loss of their lives which were perhaps most tragic; where Roland and Ayrton’s deaths forced a safety revolution, many of the pair’s predecessors were taken without consequence.

On this day, March 1, remember the following men:

Chet Miller: 1902 – 1953

Charles de Tornaco: 1927 – 1953

Onofre Marimon: 1923 – 1954

Manny Ayulo: 1921 – 1955

William Vukovich: 1918 – 1955

Eugenio Castellotti: 1930 – 1957

Keith Andrews: 1920 – 1957

Pat O’Connor: 1928 – 1958

Luigi Musso: 1924 – 1958

Peter Collins: 1931 – 1958

Stuart Lewis-Evans: 1930 – 1958

Jerry Unser, Jr: 1932 – 1959

Robert Cortner: 1927 – 1959

Chris Bristow: 1937 – 1960

Alan Stacey: 1933 – 1960

Wolfgang von Trips: 1928 – 1961

Carel Godin de Beaufort:  1934 – 1964

John Taylor: 1933 – 1966

Lorenzo Bandini: 1935 – 1967

Robert Anderson: 1931 – 1967

Joseph Schlesser: 1928 – 1968

Gerhard Mitter:  1935 – 1969

Piers Courage: 1942 – 1970

Jochen Rindt: 1942 – 1970

Roger Williamson: 1948 – 1973

Francois Cevert: 1944 – 1973

Peter Revson: 1939 – 1974

Helmuth Koinigg: 1948 – 1974

Mark Donohue, Jr:  1937 – 1975

Thomas Pryce: 1949 – 1977

Ronnie Peterson: 1944 – 1978

Patrick Depailler: 1944 – 1980

Gilles Villeneuve: 1950 – 1982

Riccardo Paletti: 1958 – 1982

Elio de Angelis: 1958 – 1986

Roland Ratzenberger: 1960 – 1994

Ayrton Senna: 1960 – 1994


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