30/9/1937 - 21/12/1962
A former motorcyle racer, Hocking switched to four wheels after the death of his friend Tom Phillis in the 1962 Isle of Man TT. Ironically, Hocking was killed later that year in practice for the Natal GP. Gary Hocking died 60 years ago, he was 25 , He would have been 85.
Hocking was born in born Caerleon, Newport, Wales but was raised in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. As a teenager, he began racing motorcycles on grass tracks. Before long, he had moved on to road racing circuits.
In 1958 he left Rhodesia to race in Europe in 1958 making an immediate impact, finishing 3rd behind the works MV Agustas at the Nürburgring. In 1959, he was offered a ride by the East German MZ factory and finished 2nd in the 250cc championship.
For 1960, MV Agusta offered him full factory support and he finished the year 2nd in the 125cc, 250cc and 350cc classes. Following the retirement from motorcycle racing by defending champion, John Surtees in 1961, Hocking became MV Agusta's top rider and went on to claim dual World Championships in the 350cc and 500cc classes.
Hocking was affected deeply by the death of his friend, Tom Phillis at the 1962 Isle of Man TT. After winning the Senior TT, he announced his retirement from motorcycle racing and returned to Rhodesia. He felt motorcycle racing was too dangerous.
During 1962 F1 season, after the accident which ended Stirling Moss' career, Rob Walker decided to replace Moss with Hocking. He began his new career as an F.1 driver on 26 August 1962 at Roskildering for the non-championship Danish GP in Walker's Lotus 24-Climax. He finished 4th. Later, in September, he raced at Oulton Park the Gold Cup, where he retired and then he won three races, the Rand Spring Cup on the 10th October at Kyalami, the Swartkops Total Cup on the 24th November and the Rhodesian GP on the 2nd December at Kumalo. On 15 December he was 4th overall at the Kyalami Rand GP.
The last races of the season were the Natal GP at Westmead circuit and the South African Grand Prix, which was also the last round of the World F.1 Championship. By this time he was already being considered as a potential winner and future champion.
But unfortunately Hocking was killed in the last practice session of the Natal GP, when his Lotus went straight on at Devil's Leap, though a ditch and then hit a 1 to 2 foot high tree stump that had been left standing after recent felling. This impact broke the car in two, and Hocking received serious head injuries. He died on his way to a hospital.
According to the book "Springbok Grand Prix", the Hocking crash may have been caused by steering failure.