Sweden's Joachim Bonnier, who was making his 13th attempt to win the Le Mans 24-Hour Motor Race, was killed on Sunday (11 June), when his Lola-Ford T 280 disintegrated after a collision with a Ferrari Daytona driven by Florian Vetsch of Switzerland.
Sweden's Joachim Bonnier, who was making his 13th attempt to win the Le Mans 24-Hour Motor Race, was killed on Sunday (11 June), when his Lola-Ford T 280 disintegrated after a collision with a Ferrari Daytona driven by Florian Vetsch of Switzerland. In a career which spanned 20 years and more than 600 races--including 109 grand prix events--it was his first serious crash.
A former naval officer, the 42-year-old Bonnier had driven for most leading manufacturers, including Porsche, Ferrari, Alfa-Romeo and Mesarati--as well as Lotus. In recent years, Bonnier and his family had been living in Switzerland, where the Lolas were built for his team.
In 1958, Bonnier won the United States Grand Prix--his first major triumph. And since then, he'd competed in 184 Formula One races, including the South African Grand Prix in 1967. Before the start of the actual race, there was a parade of antique cars at the track in which Bonnier took part.
Among the other events he'd taken part in was the 1962 European International Hill Climb Race in Switzerland, which he won in a Porsche. In 1966, he and his co-driver Phil Hill rode home to win the Nurburgring 1000 Kms race. But he hadn't won the Le Mans 24-Hour event.
The Swedish driver wasn't a stranger to the dangers of racing, however. In 1969 he suffered a crash at Brands Hatch when his car hit a grass bank and cartwheeled. He had to be taken from the scene in a stretcher, but he wasn't seriously hurt.
But Bonnier worked hard to improve safety for race drivers. He formed the Grand Prix Drivers Association 13 years ago and had remained its only President. The organisation enforced safety measures at many tracks and boycotted those where its proposals were rejected.
Bonnier, who was lying eighth when he crashed, is the seventh leading race driver in two years to die following crashes. But he's the first since Swiss star Jo Siffert was killed at Brands Hatch last October.
The Le Mans race was finally won by Britain's Graham Hill and Frenchman Henri Pescarolo in a French Matra-Simca. It was the first french victory for 22 years.
SYNOPSIS: The 1962 European International Hill Climb race began at Ollon-Villars--and one of the drivers was Sweden's Joachim Bonnier. Bonnier was to win the race in a Porsche. But ten years later, at the Le Mans 24-Hour Motor Race on Sunday, he was killed after a crash. Bonnier's Lola-Ford T 280 disintegrated after a collision with a Ferrari Daytona driven by Florian Vetsch of Switzerland. Le Mans was Bonnier's first serious crash in a 20-year career.
Bonnier drove more than 600 races. In 1966, he and co-driver Phil Hill were the winners of the Nurburgring 1000-kilometre event, in a Chaparral.
An antique car parade preceded the start of the 1967 South African Grand Prix. And "Jo" Bonnier was among the drivers who took part. The 42-year-old Bonnier competed in 184 Formula One races--of which 109 were Grand Prix events. And he'd tried to win the Le Mans 24-Hour Race 13 times, but hadn't been successful.
A former naval officer, Bonnier took part in an event at Brands Hatch in 1969. His first major triumph was winning the United States Grand Prix in 1958. In recent years, Bonnier and his family had been living in Switzerland, where the Lolas were built for his team. Throughout his career, Bonnier strove to make racing safer for drivers. He formed a body of drivers to enforce safety measures at tracks.
Bonnier crashed in this race, though. His car hit a grass bank. But he wasn't seriously hurt though the was carried off. Bonnier, lying eighth at Le Mans when he crashed, was the seventh leading driver in two years to die in crashes. Le Mans was eventually won by Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo in a Matra-Simca.