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John Love

Full Name:
John Maxwell Lineham Love
7th December 1924
Bulawayo, Matabeleland
25th April 2005 (Aged 80)
Bulawayo, Matabeleland
Most recent race (in database):

John Love was the dominant force in the South African Formula 1 Championship during the 1960s and was a regular participant when the world championship visited the region. And he almost scored the upset of all upsets in the 1967 South African Grand Prix.

Early racing career

The 19 year old Love began to race a Zundapp motorbike but four-wheel competition soon drew his attention. Racing in southern Africa at first, he travelled to England in 1961 to drive Ken Tyrrell’s Cooper-BMC in Formula Junior. He triumphed in the following year’s British Touring Car Championship with the Vita-run Mini Cooper that also won the 1000cc class.

However, his European adventure ended a week later when Love broke his arm in a FJ race at Albi and he decided to concentrate on business and racing at home. It was in the South African F1 series that the Rhodesian made his name – winning six successive titles from 1964 to 1969.

He also made nine F1 World Championship starts from 1962 to 1972 – all in the South African GP. He did venture to Monza for the 1964 Italian GP but failed to qualify a works Cooper T73-Climax when its engine failed during practice. Love’s privately-run Cooper T55-Climax had twice finished outside the points in the South African race by then.

1967 South African Grand Prix

By 1966 Love had acquired a Cooper T79 chassis and he finished sixth in the non-championship South African GP that year. Better was to come in 1967. The GP switched from East London to Kyalami and had been restored to full world championship status.

He qualified in an impressive fifth position and benefited as others retired. When Denny Hulme’s leading Brabham-Repco pitted with faulty brakes, Love was in the lead and 25 laps from an unlikely victory. He led for 13 glorious laps before a late fuel stop handed Pedro Rodríguez a first GP victory. Love resumed to finish in a highly merited but slightly disappointed second position.

Love finally lost his South African F1 title to Dave Charlton in 1970 and he raced in the GP for a final time two years later. Still competing at a national level in the 1990s, he ran a car dealership in Bulawayo until his death from cancer in 2005.