Chris Amon, July 20 1943 – August 3, 2016
It might be safe to call Chris Amon the unluckiest man to ever race at the highest level of motorsport. He started his racing career in his native New Zealand where former driver and Aston Martin team Manager Reg Parnell saw the 17-year-old Amon driving a Maserati 250F with great skill. From there, Amon went straight to Europe and launched a career racing sports cars and Formula 1. Initial drives came with Parnell Racing and through fellow-New Zealander Bruce McLaren, for whom he also tested. In addition to superb driving skills, Amon became known as a talented test driver able to give excellent feedback.
By 1967 he had earned a drive at Ferrari, but small failures always seemed to hinder what should have been a fantastic 1968 season that seemed certain to yield a championship. From Ferrari he moved to Matra and again wins proved elusive despite epic performances from Amon.
In a Formula 1 career that stretched from 1963 to 1976 there was no question about his speed. Peers such as Jacky Ickx and Jochen Rindt considered him a serious rival. Yet minor equipment failures always seemed to steal the win and the title. Universally considered the finest driver never to win a Grand Prix, Amon did win the 1969 Tasman open-wheel series held in Australia and New Zealand during the winter months.
However the win that couldn’t be snatched away by a blown fuse, faulty weld or a holed radiator was at Le Mans in 1966 where he shared the victorious Ford GT 40 Mk II with Bruce McLaren to finally vanquish Ferrari.
Amon passed away in his native New Zealand after a long battle with Cancer.