Paul Richard "Richie" Ginther (Granada Hills, California, August 5, 1930 – September 20, 1989 in France) was a racecar driver from the United States. During a varied career, the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix saw Ginther take Honda's first Grand Prix victory, a victory which would also prove to be Ginther's only win in Formula One. Ginther competed in 54 World Championship Formula One Grand Prix races and numerous other non-Championship F1 events.
|Born||August 5, 1930|
|Died||September 20, 1989(aged 59)|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1960 – 1967|
|Teams||Ferrari, Scarab, BRM, Honda, Cooper, Eagle|
|Entries||54 (52 starts)|
|Career points||102 (107)[notes 1]|
|First entry||1960 Monaco Grand Prix|
|First win||1965 Mexican Grand Prix|
|Last win||1965 Mexican Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1967 Monaco Grand Prix|
|24 Hours of Le Mans career|
|Years||1957, 1960 – 1964, 1966|
Ford Motor Company
Richie Ginther was raised in the same Californian town as future Formula One World Champion Phil Hill, and it was through Hill, a friend of Ginther's older brother, that he first began to race. After finishing school in 1948, Ginther followed in his father's footsteps and went to work for Douglas Aircraft, initially in the tool and die shop. In his spare time he helped Hill to repair, maintain and race his collection of old cars and hot rods, as Hill's racing career began to gather pace. Ginther made his race debut at Pebble Beach in 1951, driving a Ford-engined MG T-type sports car.
However, Ginther's career was put on hold shortly after, when he was drafted for two years of national service during the Korean War. During this time he received training and experience working in aircraft and engine mechanics, skills which he would later put to good use during his driving career. On emergence from the military, Hill requested that Ginther join him, principally as a riding mechanic, in driving a privately entered 4.1-liter Ferrari in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana. The pair ran high in the rankings until Hill lost control, crashed, and wrote off the car. Both Ginther and Hill were unharmed and returned in 1954 to take second place, beaten only by the works Ferrari of Umberto Maglioli.
Nineteen fifty-four was also the year that Ginther returned to race driving himself, mostly in a self-prepared Austin-Healey. His results were impressive enough that the following year VW and Porsche dealer John von Neumann hired him to drive a Porsche in domestic competitions. When von Neumann started dealing in Ferrari cars in 1956, Ginther also got the chance to drive these. In between working in von Neumann's Ferrari dealership — including trips to the Ferrari factory in Italy to sort customer problems — Ginther began to build an impressive racing reputation on the West Coast. This, and his choice of Ferrari mounts, brought him to the attention of the East Coast Ferrari franchise-holder, three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans-winner, Luigi Chinetti. Aside from importing Ferrari road cars, Chinetti also operated a successful race team, soon to metamorphose into Ferrari's official motorsport presence in North America: NART. Ginther first raced for Chinetti in 1957 and with him made his first appearances in international-level events, first in the 12 Hours of Sebring and then driving a two-liter Ferrari 500 TR in the 1957 Le Mans race.
Also in 1957, Ginther was signed to drive the Aston Martin of Joe Lubin and over the next three years would continue to compete in many sports car racing events in both Aston and Ferrari machinery, with great success. That June, he won a 15-lap GT race at the new Lime Rock Park, and won the opening race of the national championship in his Ferrari. In early-1958, he piloted a two-liter Ferrari to victory at the County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California, averaging 83.8 mph (134.9 km/h), and won in a three-liter GT in a five-lap qualifying preliminary for the SCCA Pacific Coast Championship. By the end of the year Ginther had captured the Pacific Coast Sports Car Championship outright. He triumphed by a wide margin at Pomona at the opening sports car race of 1959, in a von Neumann 4.1-liter Ferrari, and in June 1959, won in a three-liter Ferrari TR in the first Hourglass road races in San Diego, California. Throughout this period he continued to mix his race driving with a steady job at von Neumann's dealership, and by late 1959 the strain was beginning to show.
Ginther made his F1 debut at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix driving for Ferrari, which he stayed with through 1961. In the September 1960 Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he placed second to Hill. Ginther led from the start until the 25th lap when Hill passed him and led until the finish.
Following the 1960 season the Ferrari team gave up 1000 cc in engine size. The 2500 cc engine, permitted the previous year, was replaced by a 1.5-liter rear-engine model, with 110 less horsepower. However, the newer engine was superior in both "profiling" and handling. The conservative Enzo Ferrari was the last major Formula 1 race car manufacturer to make the transition to cars with engines in the rear. In 1961, Ginther was the No. 3 Ferrari driver, behind No. 1 Wolfgang Von Trips and No. 2 Hill. Giancarlo Baghetti occasionally piloted a fourth car. The team manager was Romulo Tavoni.
On May 14, 1961, Ginther finished second to Stirling Moss at the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, 3.6 seconds behind, a few hundred feet. He was driving a new rear-engine Ferrari with a 120-degree V-6 which had a lower center of gravity. Ginther had qualified first, just ahead of Hill, with an average speed of 70.7 mph (113.8 km/h), and a qualifying time of 1:39.3. He eclipsed the previous course record of 1:39.6.
In August 1961, Ginther and Baghetti were teammates at the Pescara Grand Prix, a world auto manufacturers' championship event. Their Ferrari was leading on the 10th lap when it stopped on a straight stretch with a flat tire. Ginther averaged more than 133 mph (214 km/h) on the 6.2-mile (10.0 km) Autodromo Nazionale Monza in September 1961, to lead the first day of qualifying for the 1961 Italian Grand Prix. Von Trips qualified first with Ginther taking the third starting position after Ricardo Rodriguez. Ginther retired in the race. Von Trips died in a spectacular crash on the second lap, which also killed eleven spectators, when his Ferrari climbed a 5-foot-high (1.5 m) earth embankment. It brushed a wire fence employed to restrain a portion of the crowd and struck the spectators. Some who were injured eventually succumbed and brought the total to 15 deaths. The Ferrari team ceased competition until January 1, 1962, as a mark of respect to Von Trips.
BRM and HondaEdit
In 1962, Ginther switched to the British-based BRM team to race alongside Graham Hill. The highlight of his time at BRM was finishing equal-second (with Hill) in the 1963 World Championship. Ginther scored more points than his British teammate over the whole season, but only a driver's six best scores were counted towards the championship.
His reputation as a solid "team player" and excellent test and development driver earned him an invitation to join the works Honda F1 team for 1965, for whom he scored his one and only GP win, at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. The win was also Honda's first in Formula 1. Ginther averaged 151.7 kilometres per hour (94.3 mph) over the curving 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) track in the 65 lap Mexico City event. His speed eclipsed the previous course record of 150.185 km/h (93.321 mph) established by Dan Gurney in 1964. It was the first time Honda had entered the Mexican Grand Prix. Honda reentered international competition in the 1966 Italian Grand Prix. The team was three years old and had encountered difficulty in the preparation of a larger engine. Ginther led in Italy before his car crashed into a retaining wall and he broke his collarbone. He signed with the Eagle F1 team in 1967 and raced in the Race of Champions. At Monaco after practice, his place on the grid was given to an F2 car weighted to bring it up to minimum F1 specifications, and Ginther left F1 in disgust.
Ginther won one race, achieved 14 podiums, and scored a total of 107 championship points.
He appeared in an uncredited role in the 1966 film Grand Prix as John Hogarth, a driver in the Japanese funded "Yamura" team. He also acted as one of the technical racing advisors for the movie.
While making an attempt to qualify for the 1967 Indy 500, Ginther broke a fuel line in his American Eagle Indy Car. A mix of ethanol and gasoline, was sprayed down his back. This experience, along with the memory of being burned earlier, led to his sudden retirement.
He participated in a rally with sixty-five other competitors, including actor James Garner, in June 1969. The California Sports Car Club event was three hours cross country from Los Angeles to Huntington Beach. It benefited students from the Braille Institute. Ginther managed a Porsche 911S with two American drivers during the 39th 24 hours of Le Mans, in June 1971.
Ginther died of a heart attack while on vacation with his family in France on September 20, 1989.
Formula One World Championship resultsEdit
(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1960||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 246||Ferrari V6||GLV||INT||SIL
|1961||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 156||Ferrari||LOM||GLV||PAU||BRX||VIE||AIN||SYR
|1962||Owen Racing Organisation||BRM P578||BRM||CAP||BRX||LOM
|1963||Owen Racing Organisation||BRM P578||BRM||LOM
|1964||Owen Racing Organisation||BRM P261||BRM||DMT
|1966||Stirling Moss Racing Team||BRP||BRM V8||RSA
|Cooper Car Company||Cooper T81||Maserati||INT
|1967||Anglo American Racers||Eagle Mk1||Weslake||ROC
- Richie Ginther Enters Times Grand Prix, Los Angeles Times, September 13, 1960, Page C1
- Roebuck, N. 1998. Legends: Richie Ginther. Motor Sport. LXXV/3 (March 1999), 16–17
- Sloniger, J. 1961. Tester to the Prancing Horse. In: Eves, E. (ed.) Autocourse: Review of International Motor Sport. 1960, Part One. Trafalgar Press, London. 80pp
- "Richie Ginther". Grand Prix Racing. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-08-20.
- Ginther To Drive In Paramount Race, Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1957, Page C2
- Ginther Wins Race Feature, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1957, Page D2.
- Ginther in Car Victory at Pomona, Los Angeles Times, February 9, 1958, Page C2.
- Ginther Bags Sports Car Victory, Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1958, Page C8.
- Ginther and Drake Win At Pomona, Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1959, Page C2.
- Ginther Drives Ferrari TR To San Diego Race Victory, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1959, Page C6
- "The Racing Career of Paul Richard Ginther". 95 Customs. February 1, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- Phil Hill, in Ferrari Wins Monza Grand Prix, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1960, Page C6
- Ferraris Pace Dutch Trials, Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1961, Page 43.
- Ferrari Has Enviable Problem; Who on His Team Should Win, New York Times, July 2, 1961, Page 58.
- Moss May Be Tough, Lincoln Evening Journal, May 15, 1961, Page 14
- Ginther Sets Monaco Record, Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1961, Page A3
- Italians' Ferrari Takes Auto Race, New York Times, August 16, 1961, Page 27.
- Grand Prix Trials Paced By Ginther, New York Times, September 9, 1961, Page 25.
- Ferraris In Sweep, New York Times, September 10, 1961, Page K9
- Von Trips and 11 Spectators Killed in Grand Prix, New York Times, September 11, 1961, Page 1.
- Top Drivers Arrive For Grand Prix, New York Times, October 10, 1961, Page C4.
- Ginther Takes Mexican Grand Prix, Fresno Bee, October 25, 1965, Page 18.
- U.S. Grand Prix, Fremont Argus, September 30, 1966, Page 9.
- Motor Sports Today, Van Nuys News, April 14, 1968, Page 36.
- Unique Blind Rally Set Saturday, Valley News And Green Sheet, June 19, 1969
- Porsche Team Choice To Wim At Le Mans, Hamilton, Ohio Daily News Journal, June 12, 1971, Page 23.
- "Retired Race Car Driver Ginther Is Dead at Age 59". 22 September 1989.