Tim Mayer

Tim Mayer

22/2/1938 - 28/2/1964

Tim Mayer was a brilliant young driver from the United States. He only drove in in one World Championship grand prix, on October 7, 1962. Mayer's older brother Teddy was one of the founders of the McLaren team and together they went to Europe in the early 1960s with future grand prix winner Peter Revson. Mayer was killed in practice for a race in Tasmania.

The brilliant younger brother of Teddy Mayer, later boss of the McLaren Formula 1 team, Tim Mayer was born in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. He was married in 1959 and his wife Garrill who hails from Connecticut, accompanied him on all his motor racing journeys.

In order to compete at race meetings Tim had to wait until he was 21, the minimum age in the United States for obtaining a competition licence. After graduating from Yale University with the equivalent degree of a Bachelor of English Literature, he started competition with a 2.6 litre Austin Healey and finished his first season with a fourth in the national class placings.

In 1960 Tim bought a Lotus 18 Formula Junior, and prior to wrecking the car at Louisville he had finished second in five out of eight races in which he had started.

For 1961 Tim Mayer obtained a Formula Junior Cooper, and in spite of the enforced rank of Corporal Mayer in the U.S. Army he managed to race almost every weekend by judicious use of his leave and the American network of airlines. Tim was still in the army in 1962 and in spite of being based in Puerto Rico he managed to win the S.C.C.A. Formula Junior Championship and the Kimberley Cup for the most improved and outstanding American driver. This earned him a drive in the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in the third Cooper team car which was of the old four cylinder 1500 c.c. type.

After obtaining his release from the U.S. Army, Tim was given a chance to drive in the Ken Tyrrell Racing Team of Formula Junior Coopers. Although he gained a lot of experience in 1963 his successes were few, but towards the latter part of the year he showed his real form in a sports car race at Brands Hatch. For this race he flew his 2.7 litre Cooper Monaco over from America and finished third behind Roger Penske and Roy Salvadori, also in Coopers.

Soon after joining forces with Bruce McLaren for the Tasman Championship races it was announced that Tim Mayer would be No. 2 in the Cooper team for 1964 International Championship Formula 1 races. His foresight in undertaking this "down under" tour is very commendable as it provided him with very valuable experience and ensured that he was in good form for the 1964 Grand Prix Season. Tim was assisted in his endeavours by Teddy Mayer, his 28-year-old brother, who after graduating at Yale with a B.A. degree gave up the chance of a career as a tax lawyer to manage and further Tim's progress towards the top of the motor racing tree.

In the first race of the Tasman Championship at Levin on the 4th January, 1964, Tim finished in second place to Denis Hulme, and again followed Denis over the finishing line in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe a week later, this time in third place. At Wigram he was unable to gain any points but in the last New Zealand race at Teretonga he came second to Bruce McLaren and his showing so far fully justified a place in the Cooper team for the rest of the year.

He was killed practicing for the final round of the Tasman Championship at Longford. Bruce McLaren later penned the following tribute after his friends tragic death.

We sat on top of the pits in the sun at Longford waiting for the first practice session to start: Timmy Mayer, his wife Garrill, the mechanics - our team. We had a view of the picturesque countryside and immediately below was the paddock area. Colourful with polished sports and racing cars and trade tents in the background. We were all happy. This was the last event of our tour. For two months we had worked, raced and relaxed together and, perhaps more than anyone else, Timmy was enjoying himself. He told me he really liked Australia. Intelligent and charming, he had made dozens of friends. As often occurs, to look at him you wouldn't take him for a racing driver. You had to know him, to realise his desire to compete, to do things better than the next man, be it swimming, water-skiing or racing. So when, during the second practice session, he crashed at high speed and we knew immediately that it was bad, in our hearts we felt that he had been enjoying himself, and "having a go". The news that he died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us. But who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his 26 years than many people do in a lifetime? It is tragic, particularly for those left. Plans half made must now be forgotten, and the hopes must be rekindled. Without men like Tim, plans and hopes mean nothing. To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. I can't say these things well, but I know this is what I feel to be true. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with ones ability, life is measured in terms of achievement, not in years alone. To those who have shown Garrill, his wife, Teddy, his brother, indeed all of our team, so much kindness and consideration, I want to say "thankyou".

Telegrams that arrived from all over the world bore testimony to Timmy's wide circle of friends and the loss they felt. Timmy was a true friend and a fine team-mate.


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