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A brilliant talent, Timmy Mayer was on the verge of a fulltime Grand Prix career when he was killed in 1964. The nephew of a former Governor of Pennsylvania, he was managed by older brother Teddy Mayer who would later run the McLaren Formula 1 team.
Early racing career
The younger Mayer raced an Austin Healey in national events as soon as he was 21 years old and legally allowed to do so. He also married in 1959 before buying a Formula Junior Lotus 18 with which he finished second on five occasions.
An English Literature graduate of Yale University, he joined the United States Army in 1961 but continued to compete in FJ, now with a Cooper T56. Mayer was rapidly gaining a reputation and he won the 1962 SCCA Formula Junior Championship.
Grand Prix debut and Formula 1 future
John Cooper invited Mayer to drive his third car at that year’s United States GP and he was competitive despite driving a two-year-old Cooper T53-Climax. Twelfth on the grid, he retired at one-third distance but had done enough to indicate he would be back.
Mayer moved to Europe for a varied 1963 season – Formula Junior with Ken Tyrrell’s Cooper T67-BMC, British saloons in a works Mini Cooper and third in a national sports car race at Brands Hatch.
With a Cooper contract for the 1964 F1 World Championship, Mayer raced in the inaugural Tasman series early that year. He scored three podium finishes in the first four rounds but crashed during practice for the final race at Longford. His Cooper hit a tree at approaching 130mph and Mayer was killed instantly.
Extremely competitive but popular among his fellow drivers, it is not possible to judge how good Timmy Mayer would have been. However, his promise certainly justified more than just one GP start.