Walt Hansgen bigraphy, stories - American racing driver

Walt Hansgen : biography

October 28, 1919 - April 7, 1966

Walt Hansgen (Westfield, New Jersey, October 28, 1919 – Orléans, France, April 7, 1966) was a racecar driver from the United States. His racing career began as a road racing driver. He was aged forty-one at the time of his Grand Prix debut and forty-six when he was killed during a raceway crash.

Books

  • Michael Argetsinger, Walt Hansgen, His Life and the History of Post-War American Road Racing, David Bull Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-893618-54-4

Category:1919 births Category:1966 deaths Category:24 Hours of Le Mans drivers Category:American Formula One drivers Category:Team Lotus Formula One drivers Category:American racing drivers Category:Indianapolis 500 drivers Category:People from Westfield, New Jersey Category:Racing drivers from New Jersey Category:Racing drivers killed while racing Category:Sport deaths in France Category:World Sportscar Championship drivers

Racing career

A four-time SCCA Road Racing Champ, Hansgen participated in two Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on October 8, 1961, at Watkins Glen, New York. He scored a total of two championship points. In 1964 he raced the MG Liquid Suspension Special, an Offenhauser-powered car, for Kjell Qvale, at the Indianapolis 500. He finished 13th in that race. He raced there again in 1965, in the MG-Huffaker-Offenhauser, when he finished 14th.

In addition to Formula One, Walt Hansgen was a dominant road racer from the early 1950s and 1960s, winning numerous races at VIR (Virginia International Raceway), the famed course at Bridgehampton, and Watkins Glen through to his death at Le Mans in France in 1966.

He drove for Briggs Cunningham and John Mecom. Hansgen won the Formula Junior race at the inaugural United States Grand Prix meeting at Sebring, Florida, on December 12, 1959, driving a Stanguellini.Competition Press, December 31, 1959, Page 8. Hansgen won the Monterey Grand Prix, at Laguna Seca, on October 17, 1965, driving John Mecom's Lola T70-Ford.Competition Press & Autoweek, November 13, 1965, Pages 1, 6. He participated in several races of the 24 hours of Daytona and Le Mans as well as the 12 hours of Sebring endurance races. He also was notable for introducing Mark Donohue to professional road racing.

Hansgen was killed when he crashed a 7-liter Holman & Moody Ford GT 40 Mk2 sports car while driving in the rain during the Le Mans tests on April 3, 1966.Competition Press & Autoweek, July 23, 1966, Page 3. "A Ford spokesman said Hansgen's car appeared to have been aquaplaning on the wet track leaving no way for the driver to control it."Springfield Sunday Republican, April 3, 1966, Page 7. Ford crew members later said that Hansgen had continued to push hard in the damp weather, although he had been warned by team manager Carroll Smith to take it easy.Shelby GT 40, Friedman, Dave, 1995, pg. 96 In Mark Donohue's book, "The Unfair Advantage" it is said that Hansgen tried to drive onto an escape road only to find out too late that a barrier had been built across it for spectator safety. The Unfair Advantage

Complete World Championship Formula One results

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 WDC Points
1961 Momo Corporation Cooper T53 Climax L4 MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER ITA USARet NC 0
1964 Team Lotus Lotus 33 Climax V8 MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER AUT ITA USA5 MEX 16th 2

Footnotes

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