DRIVERS: CLIFF ALLISON

Name: Cliff Allison
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: February 8, 1932 - Brough, Westmoreland
Date of death: April 7, 2005 - Brough, Cumbria

Henry Clifford Allison was born in Brough, a town in the Eden Valley, at the foot of the Pennines hills. The valley was one of the few ways to cross the Pennines and so a series of castles were built and later Brough developed a number of inns for travellers. When the automobile arrived the Allison family set up a garage in the town. Cliffís father and uncle were both motorcycle racers but he did not start racing until 1952 when he acquired a Cooper-Norton Formula 3 car, which he debuted at Charterhall in 1952.

It would be three years before Allison won anything but then he did sufficiently well to catch the attention of Lotusís Colin Chapman, impressed by the fact that Allison had beaten the Cooper works drivers. He was offered a chance to race in F1 alongside Graham Hill in 1958 and finished sixth in his first two races and then was fourth at Spa, where he would have won if the race had been a lap longer as all three men ahead of him broke down at the end of the race.

He also did well in Formula 2 and sports car races for the team and at the end of the year was offered a job with Ferrari for 1959. Mike Hawthorn had retired, Peter Collins had been killed, Enzo Ferrari and Ferrari were restructuring and signed up Jean Behra, Tony Brooks, Phil Hill and Allison. In the midseason Behra fell out with team manager Romolo Tavoni and was fired after punching the Italian at the French GP. That opened the way for more new men and Ferrari also tried out Dan Gurney, Olivier Gendebien and Wolfgang von Trips before the end of the year.

The following year Allison won the Buenos Aires 1000 with Phil Hill in a Testarossa sports car and was second in the Argentine GP. Suddenly he was the man of the moment but at Monaco he crashed on the first day of practice and was thrown from his car, breaking his arm badly and suffering facial injuries. He would be out of racing for the rest of the year.

Ferrari offered him a job as a test driver but Allison wanted to be in F1 and so joined the UDT/Laystall BRP team, driving a Lotus 18. The team did not have enough cars at Spa and so it was decided that the fastest driver would race the car. Allison pushed too hard and crashed at Blanchimont. The car rolled and Allison suffered severe leg injuries. He never raced again.

He continued to run the family business in Brough until his retirement. He died in April 2005.

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