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Canada’s best prospect so far, Pete Ryan was barely 22 years old when he was killed in 1962. By that time, this young resident of Mont Tremblant had already won the sports car Canadian Grand Prix and started races both at Le Mans and in the Formula 1 World Championship.
National success and Formula 1 debut
Ryan made his name in 1961 when racing a Porsche 718 RS60 and then Lotus 19-Climax in North America sports cars. The highlight of a fine season was victory in the inaugural Canadian GP when Ryan’s Comstock Racing Lotus lapped the field to beat Pedro Rodríguez and Stirling Moss.
He then made his F1 debut in the 1961 United States GP at the end of the season. With Colin Chapman watching closely, Ryan qualified J.Wheeler’s Lotus 18/21-Climax in 13th position before finishing in a creditable ninth.
Lotus works driver
He signed a long-term contract with Lotus as a result and was loaned to Ian Walker’s Formula Junior team to gain experience in 1962. He was the first man to beat Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 22 that year after passing the Englishman during the closing stages at Mallory Park.
However, disaster struck just three weeks later. Third in qualifying for the Coupe des Vitesse des Juniors at Reims, he was battling Bill Moss for the lead of the opening heat when the cars touched after the first turn. Both crashed heavily but while Moss only suffered cuts and bruises, Ryan had been thrown from his car and suffered severe internal injuries. He was transported to hospital in Paris where he died a day later.