George Abecassis

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George Abecassis
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
BornGeorge Edgar Abecassis
(1913-03-21)21 March 1913
Oatlands, Surrey, England, UK
Died18 December 1991(1991-12-18) (aged 78)
Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Formula One World Championship career
Active years19511952
TeamsHWM
Entries2
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1951 Swiss Grand Prix
Last entry1952 Swiss Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19501951, 1953
TeamsAston Martin
Best finish5th (1950; 1951)
Class wins1 (1950)
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
(Volunteer Reserve)
Years of servicec. 1940–1953[1]
RankSquadron leader[2]
Service number115865
UnitNo. 161 Squadron RAF[3]
Battles/warsWorld War II
Awards
WebsiteProfile at Traces of War

George Edgar Abecassis DFC[4] (21 March 1913 – 18 December 1991) was a British racing driver, and co-founder of the HWM Formula One team.

Pre-1946 career[edit]

Born in Oatlands, Surrey, Abecassis was educated at Clifton College.[6] He began circuit racing in 1935 in a modified Austin Seven which became known as The Einsitzer. After taking 1937 as a year away from the track, he acquired an Alta and made a name for himself in English national racing during the 1938 and 1939 seasons. In 1939, he won the Imperial Trophy Formula Libre race at Crystal Palace, driving his Alta, defeating Prince Bira, in the E.R.A. known as Romulus, in a wet race,[7] "that being the only time it was beaten by a 1,500 cc (92 cu in) car in the British Isles."[8]

At one point, Abecassis held the Campbell circuit lap record at Brooklands at 72.61 miles per hour (116.85 km/h)[9] On 3 July 1938 Abecassis broke the Prescott Hill Climb record with a climb of 47.85 seconds in his supercharged 1½-litre Alta.[10]

When World War II broke out he joined the Royal Air Force, as a member of the Volunteer Reserves, and became an experienced pilot, ultimately becoming a member of the secret "Moon Squadrons",[11] ferrying secret agents in and out of occupied countries in Europe with specially-modified Halifax and Stirling aircraft. During the course of his wartime service Abecassis was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross[4][12] and was mentioned in dispatches[5] with the following citation:[13]

[Abecassis]... has been employed as a Flying Instructor and latterly as Deputy Flight Commander. His keenness and enthusiasm, combined with conscientious and consistent instruction, have always been an inspiration to trainee pilots and his pupils have in every case displayed the hallmark of his careful attention. He has carried out a long spell on the arduous and exacting duties of a Flying Instructor at an Operational Training Unit.

— as per London Gazette, 11 January 1944.

Abecassis achieved the rank of squadron leader,[2] and, following the war, continued as a member of the RAF Volunteer Reserves prior to his discharge in 1953.[1]

Post-1946 career[edit]

After World War II Abecassis went back to racing, initially with pre-war machinery. He won a race at Gransden Lodge in a road-going 3.3-litre Bugatti on 15 June 1946.[14] In 1947, Abecassis finished second in the Swedish Grand Prix, held on a frozen lake at Vallentuna, driving an E.R.A.[15] In 1948, he finished second to Bob Gerard in the Jersey International Road Race.[16] He became a partner, with John Heath, in Hersham and Walton Motors Ltd., a motor dealership and garage in Walton-on-Thames. Building on his pre-war association with the Alta marque, Abecassis and HWM assisted in the development of the Alta GP car,[12] designed to comply with the recently introduced Formula One regulations.

After the failure of this enterprise, Abecassis and Heath decided to construct their own cars under the HWM banner, but retaining Alta engines. Initially the HWM cars were designed to compete in the Formula Two class, but when the World Championship switched to Formula Two regulations in 1952 HWM cars became eligible to compete in the Grand Prix events. During their prime, HWM employed such future stars as Stirling Moss and Peter Collins, and the Belgian Johnny Claes scored their first victory, in the Grand Prix des Frontières at a street circuit in Chimay, Belgium.[11] Abecassis's HWM team also took a notable victory in the International Trophy race at Silverstone in 1952, this time with Lance Macklin at the wheel. With the reintroduction of Formula One cars to the World Championship in 1954, Abecassis and Heath attempted to produce a competitive car using the 2.5-litre version of the Alta engine but it was not a success;[11] HWM cars only contested two further Grand Prix events after 1953.

It was with his own HWM cars that Abecassis raced in his only two Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, at the Bremgarten circuit, in the 1951 and 1952 Swiss Grand Prix. He was more successful as a sports car driver with Aston Martin and won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950, sharing his DB2 with Macklin. He also finished second in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1953, partnered by Reg Parnell. In 1953, Abecassis constructed an HWM sports car for his own personal use, powered by a Jaguar straight-6 engine, with which he successfully contested many national British races until 1956.[17]

In 1956, Heath was killed in an accident in the Mille Miglia and Abecassis retired from racing, turning his attention to running the HWM operations. He was the Facel Vega importer for Britain, while his motor industry connections were aided by the fact that he was married to Angela, the daughter of Aston Martin chairman Sir David Brown. He died aged 78, in Ibstone, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

In September 2010 his son David Abecassis published a comprehensive biography of his father under the title A Passion for Speed.

His grandson, Jonathan Abecassis, has an active interest in vintage sports car racing. He competes in the Fifties Sports Car Racing Club ("FISCAR") series, driving an Austin Healey 100/4.

Racing record[edit]

Career highlights[edit]

Season Series Position Team Car
1935 Aston Clinton Speed Trails [18] 1st Austin 7 "Einsitzer"
1938 Easter Road Race [18] 1st Alta 2.0 s/c
Lewes Speed Trials [18] 1st Alta S
British Trophy [18] 1st Alta S
Crystal Palace Cup [18] 1st Alta S
Crystal Palace Grand Prix[19] 2nd Alta 12/50
Crystal Palace Plate [19] 2nd Alta 2.0 s/c
Imperial Trophy [19] 2nd Alta 12/50
Imperial Plate [19] 2nd Alta 2.0 s/c
1939 Imperial Trophy [19] 1st Alta 12/50
Imperial Plate [20] 1st George Abecassis Alta 2.0 s/c
Crystal Palace Plate [19] 3rd G. E. Abecassis Alta 2.0 s/c
1946 MAC International Hill Climb [18] 2nd Alta S
Gransden Lodge Trophy [21] 2nd Alta
1947 Bo’ness Hill Climb [22] 1st Bugatti Type 59
British Hill Climb Championship [23] 2nd Bugatti Type 59
SAK Stockholm Grand Prix [24] 2nd ERA A-Type
Prix de Rome [25] 2nd Cisitalia-Fiat D46
Gransden Trophy [18] 2nd Bugatti Type 59
JMC & LCC Hill Climb [18] 2nd Bugatti Type 59
KAK Winter Grand Prix [26] 3rd ERA A-Type
Ulster Trophy [27] 3rd ERA A-Type
Craigantlet Hillclimb [18] 3rd Bugatti Type 59
1948 Jersey International Road Race [28] 2nd Maserati 6CM
1951 Winfield Formula 2 Cup [29] 2nd H. W. Motors Ltd. HWM-Alta 51
Madgwick Cup [18] 3rd H. W. Motors Ltd. HWM
Hastings Trophy [30] 3rd H. W. Motors Ltd. HWM
1952 Ibsley Grand Prix [31] 2nd H. W. Motors Ltd. HWM-Alta 52
Silverstone International [19] 3rd David Brown Aston Martin DB3
Jersey International Road Race [19] 3rd David Brown Aston Martin DB3
1953 Goodwood International [32] 1st H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
Grand Prix, 12 Hours of Sebring [33] 2nd Aston Martin Ltd. Aston Martin DB3
1954 Silverstone International [19] 2nd H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
Hedemoraloppet [19] 2nd H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
Goodwood International [19] 3rd H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
1955 AMOC USAF Trophy [34] 1st H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
BM Trophy [35] 1st H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
RedeX Trophy [36] 1st H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar
Brighton Speed Trials [37] 2nd H. W. Motors HWM-Jaguar

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 WDC Points
1951 HW Motors Ltd HWM Alta Straight-4 SUI
Ret
500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA ESP NC 0
1952 HW Motors Ltd HWM Alta Straight-4 SUI
Ret
500 BEL FRA GBR GER NED ITA NC 0
Source:[38]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1950 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Lance Macklin Aston Martin DB2 S3.0 249 5th 1st
1951 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor Aston Martin DB2 S3.0 5th 2nd
1953 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin DB3S S3.0 74 DNF
(Clutch)

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1953 United Kingdom Aston Martin, Ltd. United Kingdom Reg Parnell Aston Martin DB3 S3.0 172 2nd 1st

Complete Mille Miglia results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Pos. Class
Pos.
1952 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Pat Griffith Aston Martin DB2 GT+2.0 DNF
(Clutch)
1953 United Kingdom Aston Martin Lagonda United Kingdom Pat Griffith Aston Martin DB3 S+2.0 DNF
(Steering, accident)
1954 United Kingdom H.W. Motors United Kingdom Denis Jenkinson HWM-Jaguar S+2.0 DNF
(Shock absorber)
1955 Austin-Healey 100 S S+2.0 11th 5th

Complete Spa 24 Hours results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1948 United Kingdom John Heath Alta S2.0 172 DNF
(Accident)

Complete 12 Hours of Reims results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1953 United Kingdom H.W. Motors Belgium Paul Frère HWM-Jaguar S+2.0 DNF
(Suspension)
1954 United Kingdom H.W. Motors United Kingdom Lance Macklin HWM-Jaguar S+2.0 DNF
(Engine)

Complete 12 Hours of Hyères results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1954 United Kingdom H.W. Motors Australia Tony Gaze HWM-Jaguar DISQ
(Disqualified)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "No. 39878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1953. p. 3110.
  2. ^ a b "No. 36299". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 December 1943. p. 5590.
  3. ^ "No. 36997". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 March 1945. p. 1597.
  4. ^ a b c "No. 36997". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 March 1945. p. 1597.
  5. ^ a b "No. 36329". The London Gazette. 11 January 1944. p. 292.
  6. ^ "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J.A.O. p434: Bristol; J.W Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
  7. ^ Motor Sport, November 1938, Page 388.
  8. ^ Motor Sport, November 1940, Page 202.
  9. ^ Motor Sport, May 1939, Page 135.
  10. ^ Motor Sport, July 1938, Page 246.
  11. ^ a b c "Drivers: George Abecassis". GrandPrix.com. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  12. ^ a b "The World Championship drivers — Where are they now?". OldRacingCars.com. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  13. ^ Halliday, Hugh (16 February 2014). "Mention-in-Despatches". Royal Air Force Commands. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  14. ^ Motor Sport, July 1946, Page 143.
  15. ^ Motor Sport, April 1947, Page 98.
  16. ^ Motor Sport, June 1948, cover.
  17. ^ "Driver: Abecassis, George". Autocourse Grand Prix Archive. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "George Abecassis Race List". www.georgeabecassis.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "George Abecassis (GB) - All Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  20. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Crystal_Palace-1939-08-26-7650.html
  21. ^ "1946 Gransden Lodge Trophy - ChicaneF1.com". www.chicanef1.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  22. ^ "British Hillclimb Championship (1947-to date) - Motorsport Winners". 23 October 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  23. ^ "George Abecassis Life Achievements". www.georgeabecassis.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  24. ^ "1945 Robert Benoist Cup - ChicaneF1.com". www.chicanef1.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  25. ^ "F2 Register - Index". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  26. ^ "1945 Robert Benoist Cup - ChicaneF1.com". www.chicanef1.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  27. ^ "2000 British GP - ChicaneF1.com". www.chicanef1.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  28. ^ http://www.chicanef1.com/r=race.pl?year=1948&gp=Jersey%20Road%20Race&r=18&type=res[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "F2 Register - Index". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  30. ^ Galpin, Darren. "1951 Formula Libre Races". www.teamdan.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  31. ^ "F2 Register - Index". www.formula2.net. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  32. ^ "Goodwood International [S+1.5] 1953 - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  33. ^ "Sebring 12 Hours 1953 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  34. ^ "National Oulton Park [Sports Unlimited] 1955 - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  35. ^ "BARC Goodwood [S3.5] 1955 - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Castle Combe International 1955 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  37. ^ http://www.georgeabecassis.com/racelist.hmtl[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ Small, Steve (1994). The Guinness Complete Grand Prix Who's Who. Guinness. p. 12. ISBN 0851127029.

Further reading[edit]

  • Abecassis, David (2010). A Passion for Speed: the life and times of George Abecassis. P J Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9550102-6-2.

External links[edit]