23/3/1933 - 8/9/1966
Record updated 24-Mar-20
John Taylor competed in five World Championship Formula One Grands Prix and a number of non-championship Formula One races. He died following a crash at the 1966 German Grand Prix, when his Brabham collided with Jacky Ickx's Matra on the first lap of the race. Ickx was uninjured and though Taylor emerged from the wreckage badly burned the prognosis was reasonably good however he died from his injuries four weeks later.
John Malcolm Taylor was born in Leicester. A former flight engineer with the Royal Air Force, the popular and mild-mannered Lancashire driver started racing in 1958 in Formula Libre. A protege of Bob Gerard, he joined him as Competition Manager in 1960 and drove Gerard’s Cooper-Ford in British Formula Junior during 1962 and 1963.
He made his Formula 1 debut in the 1963 Aintree 200 driving the team’s Cooper T59-Ford, finishing ninth. He entered several non-championship F1 and Formula 2 races over the next three years without any results of major note. His entry for the 1964 British Grand Prix was accepted and he made his championship debut at Brands Hatch driving a modified Cooper T71/73-Ford finishing 14th, 24 laps down, after an extended pit–stop due to a gearbox problem.
He raced mainly in non-championship F1 races in 1965 before mounting a more serious F1 campaign in 1966. He started the year driving Frank Lythgoe’s Brabham BT16 at Goodwood in his only F2 start of the year and was sixth in the Nürburgring 1000Kms sharing Peter Sutcliffe’s Ford GT40.
In F1 he drove David Bridges’ Brabham BT11 with a 2 litre BRM V8 engine. Sixth place in the International Trophy at Silverstone was repeated at the French GP, earning him his first, and sadly only, world championship point. Eighth place finishes at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort showed consistency and, given the relative lack of power, were not bad results.
Then came the German Grand Prix. It started in heavy mist and rain and on the opening lap Taylor in the Brabham BT11 and Jacky Ickx in the Tyrrell entered Formula 2 Matra MS5 crashed near the bridge between Quiddelbacher and Flugplatz. Ickx was uninjured but Taylor’s car burst into flames.
Unconscious, Taylor was rescued and taken to hospital in Koblenz. Despite his severe burns, early prognosis was hopeful so Taylor’s death a month later was a real shock. He was a popular and consistent driver who had just started to show some promise in F1 when he lost his life. He was 33.