Peter Gethin, who died on Monday at the age of 71, was one of the most dependable and versatile racing drivers of the late 1960s and 1970s. Successful in most forms of motor sport at his time, Gethin was a true enthusiast who won many races driving for Lola amongst many other constructors.
Perhaps best known for winning the now legendary 1971 Italian Grand Prix for BRM, Gethin was a well liked and respected racing driver, who also knew the engineering practicalities of how to make a racing car go faster. This fact is perhaps why Lola founder Eric Broadley was so fond of Gethin.
The son of the famous jockey Ken Gethin, Peter took up the reins of a very different horsepower relatively late in 1967. The following year he showed well in Formula Three before he took two consecutive British F5000 titles in 1969 and 1970. It was in 1970 that Gethin found himself replacing Bruce McLaren after the Kiwis death at Goodwood. Along with Denny Hulme, Gethin helped the team rebuild itself after its founder's death. For 1971 Gethin was drafted into the BRM team after Pedro Rodriguez's tragic death at Norisring. In only his second race for the team he took that epic win at Monza, still the closest ever finish to a Formula One race, beating Ronnie Peterson's March-Ford by just 0.01s and at an average speed of just over 150mph!
Further Grand Prix appearances, again for BRM in 1973 and Graham Hill's Embassy team in 1974, were mere cameos but Gethin's success continued in F5000 and Can-Am. Hustling the thunderous Lola T400 F5000 machine, Gethin won many more races in 1975, including thrilling battles at Zolder (pictured below behind Teddy Pilette), Zandvoort and Brands Hatch.
In Can-Am, Gethin was also tough to beat and he took the final race win of his career at Elkhart Lake in July 1977 where in the Team VDS Lola T333 he beat the up-and-coming F1 star Gilles Villeneuve in his Wolf WD1.
After retiring from driving, Gethin took up the reigns of engineering and team management, firstly for the Toleman F1 team where he worked with rookie sensation Ayrton Senna in 1984 and then setting up his own International Formula 3000 team in 1986 where he ran Adrian Campos, Dave Scott and Cathy Muller.
Lola Group would like to extend its sympathies with his family and many racing fans and friends.