Tuesday 17th April 1934
Born on this day, Brian Gubby, British racehorse trainer and former racing driver from England. As a racing driver, Gubby briefly competed in Formula One during the 1960s.
Gubby started his motor sport career in rallying, and also raced a Speedwell-tuned Austin A30 and a 3.8 litre Jaguar before switching to single-seaters in Formula Junior in the early 1960s. During this time, he raced a Lotus Eleven, a Lotus 18, and also a rare Ausper T4. He witnessed the death of his friend Dennis Taylor at a Formula Junior race at Monte Carlo in 1962, later describing it as the worst accident he had seen. Taylor’s car touched wheels with that of Denis Hulme, and Taylor crashed into a tree. “I had to dodge all the wreckage and I was nearly sick in the car,” Gubby remembered.
He subsequently progressed to Formula Libre and bought himself a dark blue Lotus 24. With this car he won the Gold Flake Trophy at Leinster and a race at Phoenix Park, and encouraged by this success, decided to move up to Formula One. He drove to Sicily with one mechanic in a VW pickup, having entered the 1964 Mediterranean Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Pergusa.] In practice, having posted the eighth fastest time and outqualifying his closest rival Peter Revson by a second, Gubby’s Lotus suffered a wheel failure and he crashed heavily through chainlink fencing. “Lotuses were always falling apart… I ended up upside down in the woods, cocooned in wire with a mouthful of leaves and grass,” he recalled. He was able to disconnect the battery to help prevent a fire, and some Italian mechanics arrived on the scene to cut him free, but he was unable to take part in the race. The wheel that failed was one that he had obtained from the BRP team after one of his own wheels had developed a crack.
Gubby’s single attempt to participate in a Formula One World Championship race, the 1965 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, also ended with problems in practice. At the Woodcote corner, his Lotus jumped out of sixth gear at 170 mph, and Gubby was forced to hold the gear lever in position whilst cornering at high speeds. He decided there and then to retire from the sport, and did not attend the following day’s practice session. He later recalled, “I was driving on a shoestring, and I thought to myself, ‘Brian, you’ve got a family to look after and you’ll end up killing yourself’.” He had entered the 1965 Mediterranean Grand Prix, but withdrew his entry and sold his Lotus to Stirling Moss for use by a film company working with Steve McQueen.