Dick Seaman  Great Britain

  • Full name Richard John Beattie Seaman
  • Birth date February 4, 1913
  • Birthplace Chichester, West Sussex, Great Britain
  • Date of death June 25, 1939 (26 years 141 days)
  • Place of death Spa, Belgium
driver portrait

Dick Seaman was born into a wealthy family and developed an enthusiasm for motoring in his childhood. After studying at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1934 he resolved to become a racing driver and took his MG car to the European mainland to gain experience. He won the Voiturette race of the Swiss Grand Prix event at Bremgarten at his first attempt. He won other small races for ERA and eventually Mercedes team chief Alfred Neubauer invited him for a trial at the Nürburgring. Both Silver Arrows teams used to have at least one foreign driver, if available.

In 1937 he signed for Mercedes-Benz against the wishes of his mother, who did not want him to drive for a "Nazi team". Having a solid start to his career with Mercedes in 1937, he excelled in the 1938 season - he won the 1938 German Grand Prix and came second in the 1938 Swiss Grand Prix. In December 1938 he married Erica Popp, the daughter of the director of BMW, again against his mother's wishes.

Leading the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during a wet race, he crashed his car into a tree during lap 22. It is thought he was using a line through a corner that was only normally used in the dry. On his death bed he remarked to the Mercedes chief engineer, "I was going too fast for the conditions - it was entirely my own fault. I am sorry." He died some hours after, at just 26 years of age, as Mercedes' only fatality during that time.

After Seaman's death, Mercedes-Benz dealerships worldwide were ordered to display his photograph in their windows. He was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery in London and his grave is maintained by Mercedes-Benz to this day.

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