Siegfried Stohr

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Last updated: 12-July-2001


Before Formula One Formula One After Formula One

Before F1

Failed to shine when compared to his teammate

It may come as a surprise that of the 750-odd Grand Prix drivers who have competed in World Championship history, merely 44 have been Germans. And Siegfried Stohr wasn't one of them. Despite his name, and paternal Germanic parentage, Stohr was born in Rimini, Italy on 10th October 1952, and was brought up an Italian through and through.

With reasonable results in lower formulae, he found himself racing in the top flight in 1981, and furthermore, racing alongside his good friend, who also happened to be an Italian F1 institution - Riccardo Patrese. A daunting task yes, but he would still have been disappointed at his performances, which failed to yield a point compared to Patrese's 10. Perhaps he would have done better if a Grand Prix had been staged at Misano.


Formula Italia champ, fast tracked to Euro F3

Stohr took up karting at the comparatively old age of 19 - perhaps this had something to do with his educational studies, as he later graduated in psychology. He was a three time winner of major Italian karting titles in his 5 year stint, and for the last three years he was a member of the national squad. In 1976, having married his Swiss sweetheart Madeleine, he moved up to racing cars in a Formula Italia chassis given to him by his pal Patrese. In 1977 he became Formula Italia champion with several excellent drives.

Perhaps this success was the motivation behind him being fast-tracked, as he also appeared Italian F3 in a Chevron B38 Toyota, scoring two points to place equal 17th overall. He also raced in European F3 championship, and in the same car he came home a brilliant 5th at Vallelunga, scoring another two points and leaving him equal 23rd in the championship, equal with Australian Geoff Brabham, Frenchman Patrick Gaillard and Italian Roberto Campominosi.

1980 saw success for Stohr in the Alan Docking team, sponsored by Beta. Here he races at Vallelunga, on his way to 4th overall in the F2 Championship.
1980 saw success for Stohr in the Alan Docking team, sponsored by Beta. Here he races at Vallelunga, on his way to 4th overall in the F2 Championship. Picture from Pure Racing.


Beta than the rest, blitzing Italian F3, plus podium finish in Monaco

Concentrating full-time on Italian F3 in 1978, he joined Pino Trivellato's team with help from the Beta tools company, a long-time supporter of motor-racing. Again driving a Chevron-Toyota, he started with the previous year's B38 chassis, but then gave the new B43 chassis a win in its debut race at Misano, and was eventually a convincing champion, scoring 54 points in the process.

Also participating in a couple of rounds of European F3, he raced at Enna where he scored pole position and fastest lap but could only finish 8th in a race won by Michael Bleekemolen. At the prestigious Monaco F3 race, he drove well to secure a fine 2nd place, behind Elio de Angelis, but ahead of future F1 pilots Alain Prost, Jan Lammers and Jean-Louis Schlesser. Even though this was not a round of the European championship, the performance marked Stohr out as a man to watch.


Impresses with seven points finishes, including victory at Enna

It was clear now that he could cut the mustard with the big boys, and in 1979 made the move to F2. It was not the outstanding success he would have hoped, despite his Chevron-BMW B48 taking him to two 2nd places at Vallelunga and Pau. His season finished in a disappointing fashion, when a switch to a March-BMW 792 chassis proved a bad move, although he did come home 5th at Misano. 17 points left the eccentric Italian in 8th place in the championship.

1980, though, was a different story. With plenty of sponsorship backing from Beta, his move to the Alan Docking/Spitzley team brought him seven points finishes in his Hart powered Toleman TG280. This included a fine victory at Enna, a 2nd at Pau and further podium finishes at Hockenheim and Zolder. With 29 points he finished 4th in a Championship won by Brian Henton.

Formula One

Siegfried can't qualify, while teammate takes pole

Having spent two seasons in F2, the next logical step was F1. Now the Arrows team had had a pretty dismal year in 1980, struggling for points with Riccardo Patrese and Jochen Mass, and not even qualifying late in the season with replacements Mike Thackwell and Manfred Winkelhock. They clearly needed some cashflow in the second car to partner Patrese - and as Beta climbed on board and became one of the team's major sponsors, Stohr was their man.

Having retired with engine problems from the South African GP which did not have championship status, the first race of the season proper was something of an eye opener for Siegfried. Patrese took pole and led the race for some distance; Stohr failed to qualify. Patrese then proceeded to come 3rd, 7th and 2nd in the next three races, and Siegfried was looking poor value by comparison. He was, though, yet to play a major role in one of the year's most shocking, if memorable, moments.

Stohr put in a reasonable effort at Hockenheim, taking 24th on the grid and finishing just one lap down.
Stohr put in a reasonable effort at Hockenheim, taking 24th on the grid and finishing just one lap down. Picture from 8w.


Black weekend at Zolder sees Osella man hit and chaos on the grid

This was, of course, the disastrous weekend at Zolder, where on the Friday, Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo had been struck by Carlos Reutemann's Williams. This prompted on Sunday something of a demonstration, when on the dummy grid mechanics blocked the start/finish line protesting against the ridiculously cramped pit conditions. Many drivers got out of their cars to join them - some showing support for the mechanics' cause, others displaying disapproval of their treatment by the race organisers. Five minutes later, the cars were sent into the formation lap, despite the fact that not all the drivers had returned to their cars.

This caused utter chaos, and when eventually the cars reassembled (and Nelson Piquet was sent for another lap having overshot his mark), Patrese waved his arms to show that he had stalled the engine. An Arrows mechanic, Dave Luckett jumped onto the track and tried to restart the car. Nevertheless, FISA rep Derek Ongaro started the race.

See a video of Stohr's collision with Patrese and Luckett.

As he turned back towards his stricken Arrows, Inoue failed to see the marshals' vehicle heading towards him along the grass, and he was given an almighty clout.

(MPEG format, 2.1mb, 13 secs)
Video from F1 MPEG Archive

See a video of Stohr's reaction to the incident.

"You can see Stohr leap from the car, you can see his anguish..."

(MPEG format, 1.68mb, 23 secs)
Video from F1 MPEG Archive


Shocking incident see Stohr ram Patrese and injure his mechanic

Several cars avoided Patrese's stricken machine, but Stohr, seeing an opening suddenly appear on the inside, darted right and slammed, fully accelerated, into the back of his teammate, where Luckett was working. The chaos continued when, although Luckett lay seriously injured on the tarmac and there were ambulances and dozens of helpers on track, the race organisers initially failed to bring out the red flag.

Despite the fact that they weren't leading, Didier Pironi and Alan Jones, seeing what was going on, slowed down to block the track, enforcing the race's abortion. While Luckett suffered a broken leg and wrist and facial lacerations, he later recovered; Giovanni Amadeo later died of the injuries he had sustained on the Friday. Although none of this had been Stohr's fault in the slightest, he was in tears over the incident, and anecdotally, was never the same driver again.

Here is Siegfried on his way to just his second finish since the GP at Zolder earlier in the year - his effort at Zandvoort was also just one spot from a point.
Here is Siegfried on his way to just his second finish since the GP at Zolder earlier in the year - his effort at Zandvoort was also just one spot from a point. Picture from Motor Racing Retro.


Forced to take on Pirelli rubber; whole host of DNFs sour season

Nonetheless he did well to qualify respectably at the next round in Monaco. From there, though, the year went steadily downhill for Arrows as the A3 began to show its age, and at Dijon Siegfried even failed to qualify again. Their job was not made any easier by the fact that from Silverstone onwards, they were forced to use Pirelli rubber, which was far inferior to the frontrunners' Goodyears.

After Monaco, both Patrese and Stohr would only finish twice more for the rest of the season - Patrese in France and Las Vegas, Stohr at Zandvoort and Hockenheim. Starting from 24th in Germany, Stohr finished a lap down on the winner, Nelson Piquet.


DNQs in front of home crowd, seat taken by hapless Canadian

When Stohr failed to qualify the car at Monza, 2.4 seconds slower than Patrese, one imagines Arrows had had enough. The final two races would be held across the Atlantic in Montreal and Las Vegas, and while Beta stayed on, Stohr did not. His place was taken by Canadian Jacques Villeneuve Snr, a man of less talent than either his brother Gilles or nephew Jacques Jnr, but one who was possibly worth a few more sponsorship dollars in North America than Stohr.

Jacques ineptly failed to qualify the car in both races. Stohr, still possibly unnerved over the Zolder incident, called it quits in 1982.

After F1

Founds highly successful driver training school at Misano

This was not the end of his driving career though - far from it. In association with BMW Italy (and with the support of Beta, of course), he set about establishing the Siegfried Stohr Racing School known as "Guidare Pilotare", based at his home track of Misano, 18km from his birthplace Rimini. It has since become one of Europe's premier driver training schools, and over the past 20 years has tutored over 45,000 people.

Initially it was managed by Pierpaolo Gardella, an associate of Stohr's from his Italian F3 days, who later went on to work for Ferrari, Bernie Ecclestone and Williams. Stohr currently employs some of the sport's top drivers to instruct, including Paolo Delle Piane, Mauro Martini and Giorgio Tibaldo.

Stohr has since set up the most prestigious racing and safety school in Italy.
With the help of BMW Italy, Stohr has since set up the most prestigious racing and safety school in Italy called "Guidare Pilotare".


Writes books on safe driving - futile in Italy!

And it appears he still hits the race tracks every now and again. For example, we know that in 2000 he did participate in the Alfredo Melandri Memorial kart event, joining other Italian drivers of various ages and experience, and featuring such names as Tamara Vidali, Andrea de Lorenzi, Luca Drudi, Gianni Morbidelli and Marco Apicella. Sharing his kart with Massimo Carli and Mauro Cassani, Stohr placed 9th.

Meanwhile, Stohr has also written several books on how to drive safely on public roads (something which is much in need in Italy!), and also an autobiography called La Mia Formula Uno, which talks about his career.

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