Walt Hansgen

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Walt Hansgen
Born(1919-10-28)October 28, 1919
DiedApril 7, 1966(1966-04-07) (aged 46)
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited States American
Active years1961, 1964
TeamsLotus, Cooper
Career points2
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1961 United States Grand Prix
Last entry1964 United States Grand Prix

Walter Edwin Hansgen (October 28, 1919 in Westfield, New Jersey – April 7, 1966 in Orléans, France) was a racecar driver from the United States. His racing career began as a road racing driver. He was aged forty-one at the time of his Grand Prix debut and forty-six when he died, several days after crashing during testing for the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Racing career[edit]

A four-time SCCA Road Racing Champ, Hansgen participated in two Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on October 8, 1961, at Watkins Glen, New York. He scored a total of two championship points. In 1964 he raced the MG Liquid Suspension Special, an Offenhauser-powered car, for Kjell Qvale, at the Indianapolis 500. He finished 13th in that race. He raced there again in 1965, in the MG-Huffaker-Offenhauser, when he finished 14th.

In addition to Formula One, Walt Hansgen was a dominant road racer from the early 1950s and 1960s, winning numerous races at VIR, the famed course at Bridgehampton, and Watkins Glen through to his death at Le Mans in France in 1966.

He drove for Briggs Cunningham and John Mecom. Hansgen won the Formula Junior race at the inaugural United States Grand Prix meeting at Sebring, Florida, on December 12, 1959, driving a Stanguellini.[1] Hansgen won the Monterey Grand Prix, at Laguna Seca Raceway, on October 17, 1965, driving John Mecom's Lola T70-Ford.[2] He participated in several races of the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races. He also was notable for introducing Mark Donohue to professional road racing.

Hansgen was killed when he crashed a 7-liter Holman & Moody Ford GT 40 Mk2 sports car while driving in the rain during the Le Mans tests on April 3, 1966.[3] "A Ford spokesman said Hansgen's car appeared to have been aquaplaning on the wet track leaving no way for the driver to control it."[4] Ford crew members later said that Hansgen had continued to push hard in the damp weather, although he had been warned by team manager Carroll Smith to take it easy.[5] In Mark Donohue's book, The Unfair Advantage it is said that Hansgen tried to drive onto an escape road only to find out too late that a barrier had been built across it for spectator safety.[6]

Racing record[edit]

SCCA National Championship Runoffs[edit]

Year Class Car Position
1956 C Modified Jaguar D-Type 1st
1957 C Modified Jaguar D-Type 1st
1958 C Modified Jaguar D-Type 1st
1959 C Modified Lister Jaguar 1st

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 WDC Points
1961 Momo Corporation Cooper T53 Climax L4 MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER ITA USA
NC 0
1964 Team Lotus Lotus 33 Climax V8 MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER AUT ITA USA
MEX 16th 2

Indianapolis 500[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1964 Huffaker Offy 10 13 Kjell Qvale
1965 Huffaker Offy 21 14 Kjell Qvale


  1. ^ Competition Press, December 31, 1959, Page 8.
  2. ^ Competition Press & Autoweek, November 13, 1965, Pages 1, 6.
  3. ^ Competition Press & Autoweek, July 23, 1966, Page 3.
  4. ^ Springfield Sunday Republican, April 3, 1966, Page 7.
  5. ^ Shelby GT 40, Friedman, Dave, 1995, pg. 96
  6. ^ The Unfair Advantage


  • Road Racing Drivers Club - see members bio list - biography and photograph (includes biographies of all ever invited to join Road Racing Drivers Club, living and deceased)


  • Michael Argetsinger, Walt Hansgen, His Life and the History of Post-War American Road Racing, David Bull Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-893618-54-4