Gary Hocking  Zimbabwe

  • Full name Gary Stuart Hocking
  • Birth date September 30, 1937
  • Birthplace Caerleon, near Newport, Monmouthshire, Great Britain
  • Date of death December 21, 1962 (25 years 82 days)
  • Place of death Westmead Circuit, Natal, South Africa

Although Gary Hocking was born in Wales, he was brought up in Rhodesia where he began racing motorbikes on grass tracks while in his teens. After moving to road racing, he headed for Europe in 1958 where he immediately made his mark, finishing third at the Nürburgring. He continued to establish himself in 1959, finishing second in the 250cc championship, and in 1960 riding for the MV Augusta team he came second in the 125cc, 250cc, and 350cc classes. With John Surtess switching to Formula One in 1961, Hocking secured the 350cc and 500cc world championships in dominant style.

But in 1962 he was deeply affected by the death of his close friend Tom Phillis at the Isle of Man TT and he announced his retirement from racing and headed back to Rhodesia. It was said he told friends he had seen too many colleagues die on bikes and that he considered cars a safer option.

He signed for Rob Walker's team (his No. 1 Stirling Moss had only recently had his career-ending accident) and in his first outing at Oulton Park in August 1962 set the fastest lap and led before retiring. Experts immediately singled him out as a potential top driver. He returned south and drove in several local races, including the Bulawayo GP.

In December he was killed while practising for the Natal Grand Prix, driving the Lotus Climax which would have been Moss' but for his accident. His car went straight on at a bend and somersaulted after hitting ditch. He was killed instantly. Witnesses said he appeared to make no attempt to slow down or correct the steering, leading to speculation he had blacked out.
Martin Williamson

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