Richard Seaman

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Richard Seaman
Richard Seaman.JPG
Born(1913-02-04)4 February 1913
Chichester, England, UK
Died25 June 1939(1939-06-25) (aged 26)
Spa, Belgium
European Championship
Years active19361939
TeamsScuderia Torino (1936)
Mercedes-Benz (1937–1939)
Fastest laps2

Richard John Beattie Seaman (4 February 1913 – 25 June 1939), was one of the greatest pre-war Grand Prix drivers from Britain. He famously drove for the Mercedes-Benz team from 1937–1939 in the Mercedes-Benz W154 car, winning the 1938 German Grand Prix. He died of his injuries after his car crashed into a tree and caught fire during the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix.[citation needed]


Seaman was born in Chichester, Sussex, in a wealthy family, the son of William John Beattie-Seaman. He initially lived at Kentwell Hall, Long Melford in Suffolk, developing an enthusiasm for motoring from his childhood. After studying at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge,[1] in 1934 he resolved to become a racing driver and took his MG car to the European mainland to gain experience. He won the Voiturette race of the Swiss Grand Prix event at Bremgarten at his first attempt. He won other small races for English Racing Automobiles (ERA).

He was very successful in the 1936 season both in UK and on the Continent using a 1926 1500 cc Delage race car which was developed and modified to be almost unbeatable at the time with Dick Seaman driving and eventually Mercedes team chief Alfred Neubauer invited him for a trial at the Nürburgring. Both Silver Arrows teams used to have at least one foreign driver, if available.[citation needed]

In 1937 he signed for Mercedes-Benz against the wishes of his mother, who did not want him to drive for a "Nazi" team. The Mercedes (and their rival Auto Union) cars, which were part of a racing program that was German government subsidized were far faster, better financed, better built, more advanced and more reliable than any of the racing cars he had driven previously. He now had a chance to win Grands Prix and be one of the top drivers in the European Grand Prix championship. Having a solid start to his career with Mercedes in 1937, he excelled in the 1938 season – he won the 1938 German Grand Prix and becoming one of the favourite drivers of Adolf Hitler,[2] and came second in the 1938 Swiss Grand Prix.

In December 1938 he married Erica Popp, the daughter of the director of BMW, again against his mother's wishes.

A granite headstone in the shade of a tree, surrounded by other gravestones
Dick Seaman's grave at Putney Vale Cemetery, London in 2014

Leading the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps during a wet race, Seaman crashed his car into a tree during lap 22. It is thought he was using a line through a corner that was only normally used in the dry. After the impact, the car caught fire, with the unconscious driver still inside. Seaman died a few hours later as a result of his burns, at just 26 years of age; it was Mercedes' only fatality during that time. On his death bed he remarked to the Mercedes chief engineer, "I was going too fast for the conditions – it was entirely my own fault. I am sorry."[2]

After Seaman's death, Mercedes-Benz dealerships worldwide were ordered to display his photograph in their windows. Richard Seaman was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery in London. Mercedes-Benz still tend to his grave down to this day.


Racing record[edit]

Complete European Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 EDC Pts
1936 Scuderia Torino Maserati V8RI Maserati 4.8 V8 MON GER
SUI ITA 28th 31
1937 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes W125 Mercedes 5.7 L8 BEL GER
15th 34
1938 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes W154 Mercedes 3.0 V12 FRA GER
4th 18
1939 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes W154 Mercedes 3.0 V12 BEL
FRA GER SUI 25th 29


  • Dick Seaman, George Monkhouse, Doug Nye: "Dick and George: The Seaman Monkhouse Letters 1936-39", Palawan Press 2002, SBN 0952300990
  • Chunlachakkraphong (1945). Dick Seaman, Racing Motorist (4th ed.). G. T. Foulis & Company.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


  1. ^ "Obituary: Mr Richard Seaman". The Times. 27 June 1939. p. 16.
  2. ^ a b Glancey, Johnathan. "The master race". Guardian newspaper (Observer Sport Monthly), 1 September 2002.,6903,782811,00.html
  3. ^ "THE GOLDEN ERA – OF GRAND PRIX RACING". Retrieved 11 October 2017.

External links[edit]