It’s understandable. Chris Bristow started a grand total of four World Championship Formula 1 races and scored points in precisely none of them. Indeed if he is remembered at all it is for the ghastly way he died in a cartwheeling Cooper at Spa in the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix, the same event in which Alan Stacey also died, Stirling Moss nearly died and Mike Taylor had a career ending accident.
But there are those, his manager Ken Gregory among them, who believed that had fate not so cruelly intervened when Bristow was just 22 years old, he’d have made it all the way to the top. Indeed in one interview conducted before his death in 2013, Gregory described Bristow as ‘the early Schumacher of his day.’ And he wasn’t talking about Ralf.
The son of the manager of a car hire business, there seems some dispute as to what kind of character Bristow really was. Some remember him as a wheeler-dealer, party-goer and a man with a keen eye for the ladies, others as a quiet professional keen to learn from mentors like Moss. What no-one disputes, however, is that behind the wheel of a racing car, he was quick.
Scarily quick, at times. Robert Edwards wrote Ken Gregory’s biography (the superb ‘Managing a Legend’ first published in 1997) and says that at his first proper test at Brands Hatch he was so quick that ‘all present had to check their watches.’