Cliff Allison  Great Britain

  • Full name Henry Clifford Allison
  • Birth date February 8, 1932
  • Birthplace Brough, Westmorland, Great Britain
  • Date of death April 7, 2005 (73 years 58 days)
  • Place of death Brough, Cumbria, Great Britain
  • Teams Ferrari, Maserati, Team Lotus
World Championship Career
Year Car Race Start Won Pod Class Best Pole Front Best Lap Hat Pts Pos
1958 Team Lotus, Maserati 9 9 0 0 6 4 0 0 5 0 0 3 19
1959 Ferrari 5 5 0 0 2 5 0 0 7 0 0 2 17
1960 Ferrari 2 1 0 1 1 2 0 0 7 0 0 6 12
1961 Team Lotus 2 1 0 0 1 8 0 0 14 0 0 0 -
Total 18 16 0 1 10 2 0 0 5 0 0 11
Race Circuit Date
First race Monaco Grand Prix Monaco May 18, 1958 Race results
Last race Belgian Grand Prix Spa June 18, 1961 Race results

Cliff Allison was one of only a handful of British Ferrari drivers and he failed to make any impression in his six-race career with them, with his best finish a second place at the 1960 Argentina GP. A few months later he was involved in a horrific crash which all but ended his racing career.

His career before he joined Ferrari was more impressive, and he secured a drive at Le Mans in 1957 on the back of a successful spell in Formula 3. His performance there persuaded Lotus boss Colin Chapman to sign him up, and in 1958 at the Belgian GP he came within a lap of overhauling three failing cars ahead of him. The Ferrari offer followed on the strength of a recommendation of Mike Hawthorn.

Allison later reflected driving for them in that era was a far different experience than the jet-set lifestyle of the modern racer. Based in Cumbria in northern England, he recalled how he used to get to Maranello every fortnight. "I used to drive to Darlington, get the express train to King's Cross, taxi to Cromwell Road air terminal, bus to Heathrow, plane to Milan, taxi to the station, train to Modena and taxi out to the Ferrari factory at Maranello."

The crash came at Monaco when he was thrown out of his car onto the track during a practice session. He was unconscious in hospital for 16 days before he awoke speaking French - an oddity because he did not know the language. Facial and arm injuries meant he missed the remainder of the season, and on his comeback in 1961 he rolled his Lotus and broke both his legs.

He retired to run a family garage business, but it took him years to shake off the unhappiness at how his career had finished. "I did feel bitter, rather cheated," he later admitted. "I'd got to the top and it felt great, but it's not to be recommended falling over. I went to Silverstone but it was awful; all my friends were still there doing it and I was there, watching."

Martin Williamson November 2009

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