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All those who started the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship race at Silverstone in 1950 may now be gone, but Joe Fry was the first to lose his life. Having survived World War II in the service of the Royal Air Force, he was killed competing in a minor hillclimb later that summer.
Family background and racing career
A member of the Fry’s chocolate family, he and his cousin David Fry were best known in British circles for the Freikaiserwagen chassis. Joe Fry increasingly raced this hillclimb special due to his lighter frame and not inconsiderable skill.
Also noted for his bravery behind the wheel, he won two British Hillclimb Championship events with the car – tying Dennis Poore’s Alfa Romeo for fastest time of the day at Bouley Bay in 1948 and winning outright at Shelsley Walsh at the start of the following campaign.
Joe Fry widened his horizons in 1949 by acquiring a Maserati 4CL. Seventh in that year’s Goodwood Trophy, his next F1 race was an altogether more important affair. Fry qualified for the 1950 British Grand Prix in 20th and penultimate position before finishing 10th having shared his old Maserati with Brian Shawe-Taylor.
Less than three months later Fry was back in the Freikaiserwagen for a West Hants & Dorset Car Club-organised hillclimb at Blandford Camp in Dorset. He crashed at Cuckoo corner during practice and died later that day.