Italian-born, Swiss-national Hans Ruesch died on August 27 in Lugano, Switzerland, at the age of 94. He was one of only two surviving significant drivers from the great prewar period of European racing, leaving only German Paul Pietsch from that illustrious group.
Ruesch drove in the late ’20s and through the 1930s, competing in over 100 major races, mainly in Maseratis and Alfa Romeos, with 27 victories to his credit. Ruesch is perhaps best known to Alfa Romeo fans for his exploits in his 8C-35 in 1936. This car was entered for Ruesch and Dick Seaman at Brooklands in September 1936, but it failed to start. It then appeared at Donington in October for the International Grand Prix. Seaman and Ruesch shared the car and won the 306-mile race with room to spare, beating Charles Martin’s 3.2 Tipo B and the ERA R10B of Whitehead and Walker. Ruesch’s Alfa 8C-35 survives today and is still seen in vintage racing, in the hands of Peter Giddings.
In addition to his racing, Ruesch was also well known for his writing, with his book The Racers being turned into a well-known racing film in 1955 starring Kirk Douglas. Ruesch went on to write in other fields and became a leading writer and activist in the antivivisectionist movement. His book Slaughter of the Innocent was a classic in that area, though Ruesch’s style and passion earned him many enemies, even within the movement as he was criticized for “undermining the antivivisection movement” with his absolute and total condemnation of every form of animal experiment, and for his attacks on other members of the cause.
By Ed McDonough