Well-known America racing driver Pete Lovely has died at the age of 85 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. Lovely’s career in racing as a driver and entrant covered more than 50 years, including a dozen Formula One starts, victory in the very first race ever held at Laguna Seca, and contemporary participation in vintage racing.
Lovely first gained wide notice by winning the SCCA’s 1955 F-Modified National Championship with a Cooper-Porsche, then cemented his status with that inaugural Laguna Seca win, where he brought his 2-liter Ferrari Testa Rossa home ahead of a number of more powerful machines driven by drivers with greater reputations. He was named a Legend of Laguna Seca in 2007.
Building on that success he partnered with Jack Nethercutt on four occasions, scoring 3rd-place finishes at both Sebring and Riverside with Nethercutt’s 250 Testa Rossa 59 in 1960. He subsequently raced a string of Lotus sports cars for many years, as well as enjoying occasional drives in other marques.
Apart from an appearance at the 1960 United States Grand Prix at Riverside in a Cooper powered by a 625LM Ferrari engine, all of Lovely’s F1 starts came in an ex-Jim Clark Lotus 49 that he purchased from Colin Chapman in 1969—a car that turned out to be the very one with which Clark scored the Ford DFV engine’s debut win at Zandvoort in 1967. For the next several years Pete transported the car around Europe and North America on the back of a VW Type II Flatbed, and his best result with it was a 7th in Mosport’s ’69 Canadian GP.
In the ’80s he ran converted single-seaters in the Can-Am for Gary Gove, and in recent years his Pete Lovely Racing operation specialized in vintage racecar preparation. Vintage Racecar offers its sincerest condolences to Pete’s family and many friends in the sport.