Dick Seaman’s last race. The Englishman takes Stavelot in his Mercedes-Benz W154 during the 1939 Grand Prix of Belgium, just before he lost control of the car at the La Source hairpin. The Mercedes shot off the track, smashed into some trees and burst into flame. Seaman died of burns in a local hospital late that night. He was 26 years old.
Photo: Mercedes Benz
It may sound corny, but Dick Seaman’s short life really was the stuff of Hollywood movies. He was tall, handsome, Britain’s top racing driver, married to a BMW heiress, needed Adolf Hitler’s personal approval to join the Mercedes-Benz motor racing team, and then poked the Nazis in the eye by daring to win the German Grand Prix in a German car. And that is not the half of it.
Richard John Beattie-Seaman came from a wealthy family and at 20 years old was hell-bent on a motor racing career. Early efforts in a 2-liter Bugatti came to nothing. In fact, they riled his father William so much that he threatened to disinherit Dick unless he buckled down to studying. But the only thing the youngster was interested in at Cambridge University was its flourishing motor club, where he met a well-to-do American named Whitney Straight. Dick bought Straight’s old MG Magnette and decided the only way to make money from racing was to compete in Europe. His first victory was in the voiturette race at the 1934 Grand Prix of Switzerland. Raymond Mays scored ERA’s first win in the Nuffield Trophy handicap race at Donington the same year, with Seaman finishing 2nd in the MG.
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