Ken Wharton

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Ken Wharton
Ken Wharton Motor Sport 1953.jpg
Ken Wharton in 1953.
Born(1916-03-21)21 March 1916
Smethwick, England
Died12 January 1957(1957-01-12) (aged 40)
Ardmore, Auckland, New Zealand
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years19521955
Teamsprivateer Frazer-Nash & Cooper, BRM, Vanwall
Entries16 (15 starts)
Career points3
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1952 Swiss Grand Prix
Last entry1955 Italian Grand Prix

Frederick Charles Kenneth Wharton[1][2] (21 March 1916 – 12 January 1957) was a British racing driver from Smethwick, England. He competed in off-road trials, hillclimbs, and rallying, and also raced sports cars and single-seaters. He began racing in the new National 500cc Formula in his own special, and later acquired a Cooper. His World Championship Grand Prix debut was at the 1952 Swiss event, run to Formula 2 regulations, where he started from 13th position on the grid and finished 4th. He participated in a total of 15 World Championship Grands Prix, from which he scored three championship points.

On 17 August 1935, he was involved in a crash at Donington Park while driving an Austin in an 850 c.c. race. The incident, which saw him overturn at Red-gate corner occurred on lap one of five. Wharton escaped with abrasions to the arm.[3]

In 1951 he "travelled abroad, with Peter Bell's 2-litre E.R.A., to finish 3rd overall in the Susa/Mont Cenis hill-climb and 4th overall in the Aosta/Grand Saint Bernard hill-climb. With a Cooper 500 he also competed in the German Freiburg hill-climb where he was runner-up in the 500 cc class to Stirling Moss."[4] Wharton won the Freiburg event outright in the E.R.A. on 5 August, climbing the 7.4 miles of the Schauinsland Pass,[5] in 8 minutes 5.33 seconds. On 19 August he was fastest at the Vue des Alpes hill-climb, with a time of 3 minutes 57.8 seconds.[6] He won the British Hill Climb Championship every year from 1951 to 1954, and remains the only driver to have won four successive BHCC titles. Other successes with ERA R4D included winning the Brighton Speed Trials in 1954, 1955 and 1956.

Success in rallies included winning the Tulip Rally in 1949, 1950 and 1952, driving Fords. He also became British Trials Champion.

On 4 July 1954, he and Peter Whitehead won the Reims 12-hour race in a Jaguar D-Type.[7]

In 1957 Wharton was fatally injured when his Ferrari Monza crashed in a sports car race at the Ardmore Circuit in Auckland, New Zealand.[8] More than 1,100 people attended his funeral, including his mother, father, sister, aunt, uncle and cousins.[9]

Complete World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WDC Points
1952 Scuderia Franera Frazer-Nash FN48 Bristol Straight-6 SUI
500 BEL
FRA GBR GER 13th 3
Frazer-Nash 421 NED
Cooper T20 ITA
1953 Ken Wharton Cooper T23 Bristol Straight-6 ARG 500 NED
NC 0
1954 Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 ARG 500 BEL FRA
NC 0
1955 Vandervell Products Ltd Vanwall Vanwall Straight-4 ARG MON 500 BEL NED GBR
NC 0


  1. ^ England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 (
  2. ^ England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005 (
  3. ^ "Donington Park Motor Races". Nottingham Evening Post. 17 August 1935. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ C. A. N. May, Speed Hill-Climb, G.T. Foulis & Co LTD, 1962, Page 28.
  5. ^ Motor Year Book 1952, Temple Press, Page 193.
  6. ^ Motor Sport, January 1952, Page 11.
  7. ^ Les Douze Heures de Reims, Motor Sport, August 1954, Page 426.
  8. ^ "Ken Wharton Dies". Birmingham Daily Post. 12 January 1957. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "1,100 at Funeral of Ken Wharton". Birmingham Daily Post. 31 January 1957. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by British Hill Climb Champion
Succeeded by