Cliff Allison: From the Fells to Ferrari

Cliff Allison: From the Fells to Ferrari

by Graham Gauld

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Overview

This book is the biography of Cliff Allison, who started motor racing over fifty years ago with a little Cooper 500. Very much a countryman at heart, Allison was not one of the party-going racing drivers, but a driver with a huge ambition to race in Formula 1. He and Graham Hill competed in the first Grand Prix race for Colin Chapman’s Lotus team in 1958, and scored the first World Championship points for Lotus. He later joined Ferrari, winning the Argentinian 1000km sports car race with American co-driver Phil Hill, as well as being a member of the Ferrari Grand Prix team in 1959 and 1960. Cliff Allison can also claim victories in many sports car events including winning the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957 with a 750cc Lotus Eleven-Climax. His retired from racing following an accident driving a Lotus-Climax in practice for the Belgian GP at Spa in 1961.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845848538
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Publication date: 06/18/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 662,985
File size: 17 MB
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About the Author

Graham Gauld has been a motoring journalist since the age of 17 and has edited a number of magazines, as well as being a regular contributor to motoring publications all over the world. For the past fifteen years he has concentrated on motor racing history. Away from writing, Graham spent eleven years on the RAC Race Committee and five years on the FIA Historic Commission, and also organised motor racing in Scotland for a number of years.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"An absorbing book with wonderful period photographs ... A good read – the life of a first class racer but a countryman at heart." – Historic Grand Prix Cars Association

Speedscene, July 2008
The magazine of the Hillclimb and Sprint association

Despite Cliff Allison’s substantial motorsport pedigree, particularly in sports cars and as a Ferrari Grand Prix works driver, he’ll perhaps go down in motor racing folklore as the man who, if the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix had lasted another lap, would probably have won both his and the Lotus 12’s first (and only) World Championship GP! As it was, towards the end of what was a relatively short ten-year career in motor racing, he never really achieved major status in Formula One even during his time with Ferrari. Brought up in Brough, in Westmorland, and based there all his life, it’s not surprising that Barbon hillclimb was a regular venue on his racing itinerary and he had some success there with the Cooper 500s that he raced regularly from 1951 up until, and even after, his association with Colin Chapman four years later (although his FTD in 1956 is not borne out by the Westmorland MC’s outright winners’ listing in every Barbon programme …) Once established at the wheel of Lotus sports cars and single seaters, Allison moved farther afield, eventually driving for Ferrari in F1 before returning to the Lotus marque in the privately-run UDT Laystall team. An accident at Spa in the 1961 Belgian GP finally prompted his retirement, but he remained in touch with his old racing acquaintances until his death from a heart attack in 2005. The little-known story of the racing career of this unassuming garage owner/farmer from the Cumbrian Fells, his base throughout his life, supported by many previously unpublished photographs from the Cliff Allison archive, is long overdue. Graham Gauld‘s welcome book fills a gap in the history of the long list of drivers who, although household names in their day to motorsport enthusiasts, never quite made the top flight.

Club Lotus News, October 2008

Magazine for Club Lotus, UK
 

This is a long overdue book about a tough yet unassuming man whose burning ambition was to race in Formula 1. Starting like so many others in the 1950s in a 500cc F3 Cooper, he soon began winning and joined up with Colin Chapman in 1955. He successfully raced Lotus Nine and Eleven sportscars and in 1957 won the coveted Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957 with Keith Hall.  This was also the year he first drove a Lotus single-seater, the Mk 12 F2 car, which in 1958 took Lotus into F1 for the first time. The 12 was a difficult car but although Cliff struggled all season he scored Lotus' first World Championship points and his performances led to Ferrari making him an offer for 1959.  He was just beginning to establish himself as a Grand Prix driver when a bad accident at Monaco in 1960 ended his season. Cliff retired the following year after another big crash at Spa in a Lotus 18/21.  It's a fascinating read with many wonderful photographs from Cliff's private collection.

The Motor Cycling Club, April 2008
UK club newsletter
 

The story of Cliff Allison by Graham Gauld published by Veloce at £22.50. Not the usual reference book that will stay on the shelves except when some piece of information is quite invaluable to answer a motor club quiz question or help you decide whether to buy an obscure car, this is a book to enjoy on holiday and then lend to all your friends afterwards so they can enjoy it as much as you. Don’t worry if it carries a few stains from the sand and sangria as that’s how things were in the motor racing of the fifties and sixties when Cliff Allison was racing.   If you are a devotee of today’s Formula 1 with lots of noughts behind everything, young drivers saying the 'right' things, usually in 'Ronspeak', and the whole scene being manipulated by you know who, you will be horrified at the speed with which Mr. Allison moved from being a humble country garage man racing a Cooper 500 in his spare time to a 'Works' driver at Lotus and Ferrari. They will also be horrified at the mechanical failures – caused we used to say by the one basing his design on too little and then adding lightness while the other incorporated chassis frames welded during over long spaghetti breaks – and the general lack of safety throughout. Many more though will enjoy the tales of hairy great V12 Ferraris driven by chaps with operatic names, of Lotus F1 cars built in a north London pub yard, of a journey from northern England to Italy taking days and involving several different changes of transport, all for a few hours casual testing on a rough back street track, and a lot more, but I think I have said enough for you to see why I so enjoyed this book, which by coincidence I happened to be reading while the British GP was on TV.   As ever Graham Gauld has used his skill and experience to great effect, extracting so many little tales from those far off days from Cliff’s widow and sister while always avoiding the classic 'What happened next' syndrome.  Go and buy yourself a copy – I’m sure you and your middle aged friends will enjoy it.

Classic & Sports Car, July 2008
UK magazine
Circulation: 82,000

Don't let the vivid red cover - that'll be the Ferrari connection, even though the photo is of a Lotus Eleven - confuse you. The biggest disappointment of this book is that there are no color photos at all, even amongst the snapshots or our hero in his later life. Neither do some tacky presentation, plus the usual barrage of adverts and web addresses, do any favors to what is an otherwise superb book, brilliantly researched and beautifully written. The unsung Allison died three years ago and, for many, his industrious and determined rise to F1 epitomized what being a driver was about in the sport's heyday. That such a timely tribute to such a well-liked racer should be so marred is a great shame. When will book publishers learn that their readers and authors - and everyone else who has sweated over such a project - deserve better?

Speedscene, August 2008
The magazine of the Hillclimb and Sprint association
 

Despite Cliff Allison's substantial motorsport pedigree, particularly in sports cars and as a Ferrari Grand Prix works driver, he'll perhaps go down in motor racing folklore as the man who, if the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix had lasted another lap, would probably have won both his and the Lotus 12's first (and only) World Championship GP! As it was, towards the end of what was a relatively short ten-year career in motor racing, he never really achieved major status in Formula One even during his time with Ferrari. Brought up in Brough, in Westmorland, and based there all his life, it's not surprising that Barbon hillclimb was a regular venue on his racing itinerary and he had some success there with the Cooper 500s that he raced regularly from 1951 up until, and even after, his association with Colin Chapman four years later (although his FTD in 1956 is not borne out by the Westmorland MC's outright winners' listing in every Barbon programme ...)

Once established at the wheel of Lotus sports cars and single seaters, Allison moved farther afield, eventually driving for Ferrari in F1 before returning to the Lotus marque in the privately-run UDT Laystall team. An accident at Spa in the 1961 Belgian GP finally prompted his retirement, but he remained in touch with his old racing acquaintances until his death from a heart attack in 2005.

The little-known story of the racing career of this unassuming garage owner/farmer from the Cumbrian Fells, his base throughout his life, supported by many previously unpublished photographs from the Cliff Allison archive, is long overdue. Graham Gauld's welcome book fills a gap in the history of the long list of drivers who, although household names in their day to motorsport enthusiasts, never quite made the top flight.

Australian Classic Car, November 2008
Australian magazine
 
BOOK OF THE MONTH

Scottish motoring writer Graham Gauld has known Cliff Allison’s family for over 50 years. Can such a close friend maintain the objectivity required for the job? Fortunately, Gauld is dedicated enough to motor sport to provide an accurate, informative account of this talented racing driver's life. He has sourced most of the excellent photos in this book from Cliff Allison’s own archives. The thorough captions bring the names, faces, cars and circuits to life.  Among the book’s bonuses are descriptions of Cliff’s colleagues. Keith Hall and Jackie Stewart enter the scene early on, while Dan Gurney, who wrote the introduction to this book, Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Tripps were teammates at Ferrari. His competitive spirit seldom interfered with his friendships. Throughout his life, his younger sister Patricia was another constant companion and became a BMC factory rally co-driver.  Cliff died on 7 April 2005. At the close of this book you’ll feel you know and like Cliff, and have furthered your understanding of a racing driver’s life in this classic era.
 

Startline magazine, August 2008
UK magazine Circulation: 8500

Cliff Allison competed with Graham Hill in the first Grand Prix race for Colin Chapman's Lotus team in 1958, and scored the first World Championship points for Lotus. He later joined Ferrari, winning the Argentinean 1000km sports car race with American co-driver, Phil Hill, as well as being a member of the Ferrari Grand Prix team in 1959 and 1960.
Allison also claimed victories in many sports car events, including the index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957 with a 750cc Lotus Eleven-Climax.  He retired from racing following an accident in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1961, driving a UDT-Laystall Cooper-Climax. After his departure from motorsport. Cliff returned to his home town of Brough to manage the family business. a garage which his father had established. He died in April 2005.  This is the official biography of an extraordinary man, whose skill and determination took him to the top level of motorsport.
 

Track & Race Cars, September 2008
UK magazine
Circ: 25,000

Cliff Allison is someone you hear little about in motorsport but he had a very successful career that took him to F1. His rise to the top brought him to meet some of the top names – Colin Chapman, Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill are just some of the names that Allison encounters on his rise to the top. This is a well written account of Cliff Allison’s life with some good humored writing and quotes that show off the social aspect of motor racing in this time. This is a story of a man who loved motor racing and his journey through the different formulas to eventually race for Enzo Ferrari. The book holds a warming story about a driver that is rarely written about. A good read

Historic Lotus, Autumn 2008
Historic Lotus Register club magazine
 

The book is illustrated with some excellent photographs, but it was spoilt for me by very sloppy script-editing and historical errors. There are at least two incidents that are described twice on different pages, and in one of them the name of the Jaguar drive is different! Frank Costin did not design the body of the Lotus Twelve, Cliff did not push his car over the line at Monaco in 1958, and his first championship points were not at Monaco because points were not given for 6th place until 1960. The photo on page 76 was taken in 1959, not 1958; and (page 96) Innes Ireland drove the new Lotus 18 (not the 16) at the 1960 Argentine GP to mention just a few.  Buy the book for the illustrations and the story. It is a good read, but be careful about using it as a reference book.

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