Chris Craft obituary: One-time F1 starter and sportscar ace dies

One-time Formula 1 starter Chris Craft, one of Britain's leading racers of the 1970s, has died aged 81 after a long illness

Chris Craft obituary: One-time F1 starter and sportscar ace dies

Best known as a sportscar driver, Craft claimed an overall podium in the 1976 Le Mans 24 Hours and won the 1973 European Sports Car Championship. His single F1 start came in the 1971 US Grand Prix.

Originally from Cornwall, Craft started racing in 1961 in a Ford Anglia. He progressed through Formula 3, before racing Ford Escorts for the renowned Broadspeed team in the British Saloon Car Championship in the late 1960s. In 1969, he finished second in both the British Sports Car and British Saloon Car Championships.

He raced an incredible range of cars through the 1970s and in 1971 got his F1 chance in the Ecurie Evergreen Brabham BT33, owned by sportscar entrant Alain de Cadenet.

Craft was already racing sportscars with de Cadenet and they took the Brabham to the Canadian and US races. He failed to qualify at Mosport, but made the grid in 27th at Watkins Glen only to retire on lap 30 with suspension failure.

On his first of 14 appearances at Le Mans in 1971, he drove David Piper's Ferrari 512M to fourth, and in 1973 claimed the European Sports Car Championship in a Lola T292, with notable wins at Misano and Imola. He also raced in Formula 5000 for the VDS team.

One of his best results came in 1976 when he co-drove de Cadenet's Lola T380 to third place at Le Mans. They finished fifth the following year.

He was busy right through the 1970s and made a winning return to the British Saloon Car Championship in Ford Capris.

His final race was at Le Mans in 1984 when he shared a Porsche 956 with de Cadenet and Australian touring car ace Allan Grice. The car retired from the race with engine trouble and, aged 44, Craft called time on his professional racing career.

After his racing career, Craft and F1 designer Gordon Murray formed the Light Car Company to build the Rocket.

In more recent years, Craft was a regular visitor to historic race meetings through his friendship with Grahame White, then CEO of the Historic Sports Car Club.

shares
comments
Carlin's greatest F1 graduates ranked
Previous article

Carlin's greatest F1 graduates ranked

Next article

What are Formula 1’s options for a second US race?

What are Formula 1’s options for a second US race?
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir Plus

How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

Formula 1
Aug 5, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move Plus

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022