End of the Gentlemen Racers

16 February 2023

Peter John Collins was a British racing driver killed in the 1958 German Grand Prix, just weeks after winning the RAC British Grand Prix.

When Peter Collins died, Enzo Ferrari, who was very fond of Peter, said, ‘It was the end of the Gentlemen Racers.’

When driving for Lancia-Ferrari in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Fangio retired with a broken steering arm Luigi Musso, also driving for Ferrari, was told to hand his car over to Fangio to ensure the Argentine’s third consecutive title. Musso refused, but Peter Collins, who was able to win the World Championship with just 15 laps to go, sportingly handed over his car to Fangio.

Fangio took Peter under his wing and mentored him successfully.

Peter was one of the members of the so-called Ferrari Primavera’, the team of young drivers who joined the Scuderia Ferrari and replaced the old generation in the mid-1950s.

In 1957 Ferrari resigned Mike Hawthorn; he and Peter were great friends indulging in outrageous pranks while at the same time deriving enormous fun from their motor racing. They nicknamed each other ‘Mon Ami Mate’ after a contemporary newspaper cartoon strip character.

Much to Enzo’s chagrin, they even shared prize money; neither minded which had won the race.

Peter joined Ferrari in 1956 and felt it proper to learn Italian; the same year that Dino, Enzo’s son, died, Peter showed empathy and warm-heartedness to Dino. Peter was very kind and supportive to Enzo and his wife Laura; they treated him like a son.

Peter Collins’ death at the N├╝rburgring left the racing world, and Enzo shocked. Despite being one of the fastest drivers, he was also considered one of the safest.