Saturday 20th November 1948
Born on this day, Gunnar Nilsson, Swedish racing driver, who won the 1975 British Formula Three Championship. He was a works-driver for March in the 1976 Formula 2 championhip and came into Formula 1 in mid-season as the result of a swap involving countryman Ronnie Peterson leaving Lotus and joining the March F1 team. Nilsson filled the vacant seat at Lotus and scored 11 points that year with impressive third places in Spain and Austria. The following year, his first full season in F1, the young Swede overtook at Zolder no other than Niki Lauda to score his first Grand Prix win. But what could have been a terrific season ended with shocking news: Gunnar was diagnosed with cancer. His deal with the new Arrows team for 1978 never came to fruition as his condition worsened quickly. As his last effort he set up the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Research fund. Like all of Sweden, he grieved when Peterson was killed at Monza. Five weeks later Sweden lost another one of its finest drivers, Gunnar Nilsson had lost his battle against cancer just short of age 30.