DRIVERS: ROLF STOMMELEN

Name: Rolf Stommelen
Nationality: Germany
Date of birth: July 11, 1943 - Siegen
Date of death: April 24, 1983 - Riverside Circuit, California, USA

Rolf-Johann Stommelen came up through the ranks of racing in Germany in the early 1960s and ended up as a Porsche factory sports car driver in the late 1960s, winning the Targa Florio in 1967 with Paul Hawkins in a Porsche 910.

In the summer of 1970 he became the first German driver to make regular appearances in F1 since Wolfgang von Trips had died during the 1961 Italian Grand Prix. Stommelen joined the Brabham works team at the side of Sir Jack Brabham and enjoyed an impressive maiden Grand Prix season, thanks to backing from the caravan company Eifelland Wohnwagenbau, which was run by enthusiast Gunther Henerici. This included third place at the Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg.

In 1971 he moved on to join Rob Walker's Team Surtees, which was sponsored at the time by Brooke Bond Oxo. It was not a great year and Stommelen scored only three World Championship points. In 1972 he joined Gunther Hennerici's new Eifelland team which bought a March 721 and handed it over to Luigi Colani, who created a futuristic but not very successful bodywork. The car appeared at eight F1 races before Henerici sold his caravan business. The new owners were not interested in continuing in racing.

Stommelen was back at Brabham in 1973 and then in the 1974 Austrian GP replaced the injured Guy Edwards in the Embassy Hill team. This led to a drive in 1975 when the team debuted the new Lola F1 car. In Barcelona the GH1 was leading the race when the rear wing failed. The car went into the barriers and bounced back into the road causing Carlos Pace to crash. The Hill car then hit the barrier on the other side of the track and flew over it. Five people were killed and Stommelen was very seriously injured. Stommelen returned before the end of the year but only competed in four races in 1976. His career was outside F1 until 1978 when he joined the new Arrows team for a little while before switching to sports cars.

He won the Daytona 24 Hours three times: in 1978, 1980 and 1982 and the Sebring 12 Hours in 1982 and a series of other victories before his death in an IMSA crash at Sears Point in California in the spring of 1983.

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