Christopher Arthur Amon MBE died this morning at the age of 73 in Rotorua Hospital in New Zealand, having battled cancer the last few years. Amon will likely be remembered as the best driver never to win a Formula One Grand Prix, though he did take a pair of non-championship F1 victories, the Silverstone International Trophy in 1970 with a March 701-Cosworth, and the following year’s Argentinean GP with a Matra MS120. Perhaps his most notable victory came at Le Mans in 1966, when he teamed with fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren in a GT40 MkII to claim overall honors for Ford.
Between 1963 and 1976 Amon raced in F1, initially driving a variety of privateer Lola and Lotus cars before hooking up with Ferrari for the 1967 season and continuing to wear red through 1969. At the Scuderia he was fast but simply could not get the results. Despite starting eight of the 1968 season’s 12 races from the front row — with three poles — his best finish was a 2nd in the British GP.
He did win the 1969 Tasman Series championship, taking four wins from seven series rounds with a Ferrari 246T/69, and also won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1000 Kilometers of Monza for Ferrari. He drove for McLaren in the inaugural Can-Am season of 1966, and later raced for both Ferrari and March, as well as Ford, in the unlimited big-bore series.
Back in F1, he moved to March when that new company was formed in 1970, but by ’71 had landed at Matra where in two seasons he scored two more poles and a pair of podium finishes. After that he drove for Tecno, Tyrrell, his own Amon team, BRM and Ensign before drifting out of F1 after 1976 — impacted by Niki Lauda’s Nürburgring crash — and quitting racing altogether a year later.
Returning to New Zealand he married Tish and went about agricultural pursuits on the family farm. He did maintain a consultancy with Toyota in recent years, so that the champion of New Zealand’s Toyota Racing Series is recognized with the Chris Amon Trophy. He was awarded an MBE for his services to motorsport in 1993, and induction into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame followed in 1995.
To his wife Tish, twin sons James and Alex and daughter Georgie, and to all his many friends around the world, Vintage Racecar offers its sincerest sympathies.