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Wolfgang von Trips

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Wolfgang von Trips
Von Trips (centre) at the 1957 Argentine Grand Prix
Born(1928-05-04)4 May 1928
Cologne, Rhineland, Prussia, Germany
Died10 September 1961(1961-09-10) (aged 33)
Monza, Italy
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityWest Germany West German
Active years19561961
TeamsFerrari, Porsche, Scuderia Centro Sud
Entries29 (27 starts)
Career points56
Pole positions1
Fastest laps0
First entry1956 British Grand Prix
First win1961 Dutch Grand Prix
Last win1961 British Grand Prix
Last entry1961 Italian Grand Prix

Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximilian Reichsgraf Berghe von Trips (German pronunciation: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn tʁɪps] ; 4 May 1928 – 10 September 1961), also simply known as Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips, was a German racing driver. Nicknamed "Taffy" by friends and fellow racers, he was the son of a noble Rhineland family.

Early life and family[edit]

The son of a noble Rhineland family,[1] von Trips was born in Cologne, in the Rhine Province, which at the time was part of the Free State of Prussia during the years of the Weimar Republic. He was an aristocrat and count.[2] Regarding personal names, Graf is a German title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name; the feminine form is Gräfin. Von Trips grew up in a Romantic-moated castle in Horrem (now a district of Kerpen), Cologne. The inheritance of his parents, the castle, and the agricultural and fruit-growing possessions weighted heavily on the young von Trips, who one day had to take sole responsibility for all these lands. From 1951 onwards, he struggled to train to become a qualified farmer as his true passion was racing.[3]

Formula One and sports car driver career[edit]

A statue of Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips in Kerpen, Germany

Von Trips had diabetes during his career and he always had high sugar snacks during the races to compensate for his low blood sugar levels.[4][5] Von Trips participated in 29 Formula One World Championship Grand Prix races, debuting on 2 September 1956. He won two races, secured one pole position, achieved six podiums, and scored a total of 56 championship points.[6][7][8] Friends and fellow draws gave him the "Taffy" nickname.[9]

Von Trips sustained a concussion when he spun off track at the Nürburgring during trial runs for a sports car race held in May 1957. His Ferrari was destroyed. It was the only one of its marque to be entered in the Gran Turismo car class of larger than 1600 cc.[10] Von Trips was forced out of a Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix at Silverstone, in July 1958, when his Ferrari came into the pits on the 60th lap with no oil.[11] The following August, he was fifth at Porto in the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix, which was won by Stirling Moss in a Vanwall. Von Trips completed 49 laps and was one lap behind at the finish. Moss was more than five minutes ahead of Mike Hawthorn, who finished second in a Ferrari.[12]

Von Trips at the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix

In July 1960, von Trips was victorious in a Formula Two event in a Ferrari, with a newly introduced engine in the rear. The race was in Stuttgart and was called the Solitude Formula Two Grand Prix. It was a 20-lap event with the winner averaging 164.49 km/h (102.21 mph) over 229 km (142 mi).[13] He won the Targa Florio, 10-lap 721 kilometres (448 mi) race, in May 1961. Von Trips achieved an average speed of 103.42 km/h (64.26 mph) in his Ferrari with Olivier Gendebien of Belgium as his co-driver.[14] Von Trips and Phil Hill traded the lead at Spa, Belgium, during the 1961 Belgian Grand Prix. Hill led most of the way in front of a crowd of 100,000 people. Ferraris captured the first four places at the race conclusion with von Trips finishing second. The Formula One World Championship driver competition at this juncture in 1961 was led by Hill with 19 points followed by von Trips with 18.[15]

In 1961, von Trips established a go-kart race track in Kerpen, Germany. The track was later leased by Rolf Schumacher, whose sons, Michael and Ralf, made their first laps there.[2] In the words of a 2007 German documentary film about von Trips, "If he had won then, he would have become as famous as Michael Schumacher later was – it would have been a kind of second miracle in Bern!"[3]


The 1961 Italian Grand Prix on 10 September saw von Trips tightly locked in the battle for the Formula One World Drivers' Championship that year with his teammate. On the second lap of the race at Monza, his Ferrari collided with Jim Clark's Lotus on the long straight before Parabolica, approaching what is now Curva Alboreto; he had made contact with Clark while he was trying to overtake him, which caused him to lose control of his car and went straight into the crowd at high speed.[16] His car became airborne and crashed into a side barrier, fatally throwing von Trips from the car, and killing fifteen spectators.[17][18][19] Von Trips died before reaching hospital.[20] The toll of the accident remains the worst in the history of Formula One.[21] As a result of the accident, the FIA banned Formula One from competing on circuits with steeply-banked corners.[22]

Clark and his car were subjected to an investigation;[23] he was initially accused of manslaughter, before the charges were dropped.[24] At the time, Clark described the accident by saying: "Von Trips and I were racing along the straightaway and were nearing one of the banked curves, the one on the southern end. We were about 100 metres from the beginning of the curve. Von Trips was running close to the inside of the track. I was closely following him, keeping near the outside. At one point von Trips shifted sideways so that my front wheels collided with his back wheels. It was the fatal moment. Von Trips's car spun twice and went into the guardrail along the inside of the track. Then it bounced back, struck my own car and bounced down into the crowd."[1] Movie footage of the crash that surfaced after the race showed that Clark's memory of the incident was inaccurate; after colliding with Clark, von Trips's car rode directly up an embankment on the outside of the track and struck a fence behind which spectators were closely packed.[25] At the time of his death, von Trips was leading the Formula One World Championship.[26] He had previous incidents at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, where he crashed cars in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix and the 1958 Italian Grand Prix, and was injured in both events.[1]

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1956 Scuderia Ferrari Lancia-Ferrari D50 Ferrari V8 ARG MON 500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA
NC 0
1957 Scuderia Ferrari Lancia-Ferrari D50A Ferrari V8 ARG
6 *
14th 4
Ferrari 801 MON
Ret †
1958 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Dino 246 Ferrari V6 ARG MON
MOR 12th 9
1959 Dr Ing hcf Porsche KG Porsche 718 F2 Porsche Flat-4 MON
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Dino 246 Ferrari V6 USA
1960 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Dino 246 Ferrari V6 ARG
500 NED
7th 10
Ferrari 246P F2 ITA
Scuderia Centro Sud Cooper T51 Maserati
1961 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 156 Ferrari V6 MON
USA 2nd 33
* Indicates shared drive with Cesare Perdisa and Peter Collins
† Indicates shared drive with Mike Hawthorn[27]

Formula One Non-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 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1957 Scuderia Ferrari Lancia D50 Lancia V8 BUE
1961 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 156 Ferrari V6 LOM GLV PAU BRX VIE AIN SYR NAP LON SIL SOL

24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Driver(s) Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1956 Germany Porscke KG Germany Richard von Frankenberg Porsche 550A Coupe S 1.5 282 5th 1st
1958 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Germany Wolfgang Seidel Ferrari 250 TR/58 S 3.0 101 DNF DNF
1959 Germany Porscke KG Sweden Jo Bonnier Porsche 718 RSK S 2.0 182 DNF DNF
1960 Italy Scuderia Ferrari United States Phil Hill Ferrari 250 TR59/60 S 3.0 22 DNF DNF
1961 Italy SEFAC Ferrari United States Richie Ginther Ferrari 246 SP S 2.5 231 DNF DNF

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Von Trips, 11 Monza Fans Killed; Hill Wins". Los Angeles Times. 11 September 1961. pp. C1. ISSN 0458-3035.
  2. ^ a b "Wolfgang 'Tappy' von Trips (1928–1961)". Unique Cars and Parts. 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  3. ^ a b "Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips – Zwischen Rittergut und Rennstrecke" [Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips – Between the Manor and the Race Track]. German Documentaries (in German). 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  4. ^ Scroggs, Jennings R. (4 May 2011). "Morning Qualifying – Wednesday with Wolfgang Edition". Hooniverse. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  5. ^ Grolleman, Jaap (9 April 2015). "Driver Spotlight: Wolfgang von Trips". Jaap Grolleman. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  6. ^ a b Small, Steve (2000). "Wolfgang von Trips". Grand Prix Who's Who (Third ed.). Reading, Berkshire: Travel Publishing. pp. 592–593. ISBN 978-1-902007-46-5. Retrieved 14 February 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ a b "Wolfgang von Trips". Motor Sport. 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2024 – via Motor Sport Database.
  8. ^ a b "Wolfgang von Trips Statistics and Results". Motorsport Stats. 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  9. ^ Lynch, Steven (4 June 2010). "The unexplained mystery of 'Taffy' von Trips – Ask Steven". ESPN UK. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  10. ^ "German Driver Injured In Sports Car Trials". The New York Times. 26 May 1957. pp. S3. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 February 2024 – via New York Times Article Archive.
  11. ^ "Collins' Ferrari Wins Royal Automobile Club's Grand Prix at Silverstone; Moss Forced Out In English Race". The New York Times. 20 July 1958. pp. S9. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 February 2024 – via New York Times Article Archive.
  12. ^ "Moss Wins Portugal's Grand Prix". The New York Times. 25 August 1958. pp. A15. ISSN 0362-4331.
  13. ^ "Von Trips's Victory In Stuttgart". The Times. 25 July 1960. p. 5. ISSN 0140-0460.
  14. ^ "Von Trips Sets Up New Record". The Times. 1 May 1961. p. 4. ISSN 0140-0460.
  15. ^ "Hill Captures Belgium Prix; Ginther Third". Los Angeles Times. 19 June 1961. pp. C5. ISSN 0458-3035.
  16. ^ Arkkukangas, Juha (23 September 2016). "Accident of Wolfgang Von Trips at Monza, 1961". CarThrottle. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  17. ^ "1961 Italian Grand Prix race report: von Trips suffers fatal accident whilst Hill wins title". Motor Sport. No. 44. October 1961. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Albino Albertini". Motorsport Memorial. 2005. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  19. ^ Collantine, Keith (9 September 2011). "50 years ago today: F1's worst tragedy at Monza". RaceFans. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  20. ^ Williams, Richard (5 September 2011). "When motor racing really was a matter of life and death". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  21. ^ "1961 Italian Grand Prix – The Crash Photos Database". The Fastlane. 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  22. ^ King, Ryan Erik (26 September 2023). "These Are The Worst Crashes In Motorsports History − 1961 Italian Grand Prix". Jalopnik. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  23. ^ Schneider, Jürgen (10 September 2021). "On the death of Count Trips: Clark mechanic recounts". Speedweek.com. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  24. ^ "L'ultima corsa di Wolfgang von Trips". Il Post (in Italian). 10 September 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  25. ^ @RacingCrashes (30 June 2009). Wolfgang von Trip's Fatal Crash at Monza (graphic). Archived from the original on 12 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "Taffy The Story of Count Graf Berghe von Trips". Research Racing. 2006. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  27. ^ a b "All championship race entries, by Wolfgang von Trips". ChicaneF1. 1997. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  28. ^ "Wolfgang von Trips – Involvement Non World Championship". Stats F1. 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2024.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by Formula One fatal accidents
10 September 1961
Succeeded by
Preceded by German Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by