• December 24 down the years

Legendary ERA racer Prince Bira dies

What happened on December 24 in Formula One history?
Prince Bira in jubilant mood after winning the Road Racing Club's Imperial Trophy Race at Crystal Palace in 1937 © Getty Images
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1985
Legendary racing driver Prince Bira of Siam died of a heart attack aged 71 while travelling on the London Underground between Hammersmith and Baron's Court. It was a very ordinary end for an extraordinary character. Officially called Prince Birabangse Bhanudej Bhanubandh - he started racing in a Riley Imp at Brooklands in 1935. Although he raced in 19 modern-era grand prix, he is more famous for his pre-war successes at the wheel of his pale blue and yellow ERA R2B known as Romulus.

2000
John Cooper, the driving force behind the Cooper Car Company died aged 77. With his father, Charles, he started building racing cars after the Second World War; and it was Stirling Moss who gave the company its first GP victory in the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was the first rear engine car to win a grand prix and started a revolution - within two years all the cars on the grid were rear engined. "He made a great contribution to the sport of motor racing - he put England back on top," Stirling Moss said. "It's thanks to John Cooper that I was able to get into the sport as his racing cars were relatively cheap."

1941
Howden Ganley was born in Hamilton, New Zealand but moved to England as a 19-year-old to become a mechanic. He competed in 41 grand prix between 1971 and 1974, with his best result a fourth. He was inspired to try and make a career in motorsport after visiting the 1955 New Zealand Grand Prix as a 13-year-old. He later became a reporter for the Waikato Times and wrote a column for Sports Car Illustrated.

1949
Warwick Brown , born on this day in Sydney, Australia, competed in the 1976 USA Grand Prix, driving a Wolf entered by the Williams team. He finished 14th. He was more successful in the Tasman Series, which he won in 1975, driving a Lola T332 Chevrolet. He also won the Rothmans International Series in Australia twice, in 1977 driving a Lola T430 Chevrolet and in 1978 driving a Lola T332 Chevrolet, both for the VDS Team. In the course of winning these series Brown also won the 1975 New Zealand Grand Prix and the 1977 Australian Grand Prix.

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