Saturday, April 7, 2018

Henry "Cliff"' Allison Dies At Age 73 - April 7, 2005

February 8, 1932 - April 7, 2005
Henry Clifford 'Cliff' Allison
Born in Brough, England.
A farmer, whose family also owned the local garage business, Allison lived all his life in the windswept village of Brough, England. He drove his first race at the age of 20, at the now defunct Charterhall track in Scotland, at the wheel of his own 500cc formula three Cooper, and stayed competing in this category until 1956, by which time he had made his name as a man to watch.

In 1957, he shared a Lotus 11 sports car with Keith Hall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and finished an impressive 14th overall in this tiny, 744cc-engined machine, winning the prestigious Index of Performance handicap in the process. His performance also grabbed the attention of Lotus team owner Colin Chapman.

The Lotus of Allison and Colin Chapman finished sixth in the 1958 12 Hours of Sebring. Allison's speed convinced Chapman to give him a drive in formula one, alongside Graham Hill.
Allison came in fourth with his Lotus in the 1958 Grand Prix of Europe at Spa-Francorchamps, which led to the invitation to sign for Ferrari in 1959.

Ferrari's stable of drivers for 1959 were Olivier Gendebien, Phil Hill, Tony Brooks, Jean Behra, Dan Gurney, and Allison. Allison was paired with Jean Behra in a Ferrari which finished second in the 1959 12 Hours of Sebring. The drivers received $1,500 in prize money. Allison was credited with the fastest lap of the race.

During the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, Wolfgang von Trips lost control of his Porsche in a bend where the street was steeply inclined to Casino. Allison's Ferrari crashed into him as he spun. The Lotus of Bruce Halford came next into the blind curve and became part of the wreck. Allison and his Ferrari suffered the least damage while von Trips sustained a gashed face, and Halford had a cut to his arm. Neither of the three cars could continue.

In May 1960, Allison skidded off the road during practice for the Targa Florio in Palermo, Sicily. His Ferrari reached a speed of 100 miles per hour, nearing the end of a five mile straight by the sea, when a tyre burst, or so the driver believed. Allison escaped from the wreck without a scratch, although the crash destroyed the Ferrari.

His best result in a Ferrari was second place, driving a front-engined Dino 246, behind Bruce McLaren's mid-engined Cooper in the 1960 Argentine grand prix at Buenos Aires. 

He suffered a major crash behind the wheel of his Ferrari while practicing for the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix, and it took him almost the rest of the year to recover from his injuries. Allison was hurt when his Ferrari slammed into a straw barrier and he was hurled from the cockpit onto the track.
He was unconscious when he was taken to a hospital. Allison sustained a broken left arm, rib fractures, facial cuts, and a concussion. He was listed in serious condition.

The following year he suffered another crash at the wheel of his Lotus at the 1961 Belgian Grand Prix. He broke both his knees and fractured his pelvis when his car careened off the course and overturned in a field. This marked the end of his career in motor sport.

A popular member of the British Racing Drivers' Club, Allison eventually became a familiar presence again, in the pit lanes, usually at Silverstone and Monaco, chatting happily about old times.

Allison owned and managed Allison's Garage in Brough. The business had been started by his father and he returned to it after his racing career ended. Allisons also provided the village with school bus services, which Cliff Allison would drive.

On April 7th, 2005, Cliff Allison collapsed and died, aged 73, while driving near his home.

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