Joe Fry

26/10/1915 - 29/7/1950

Record updated 28-Jul-20

Joe was a promising young British driver who was killed at the wheel of the difficult-to-drive Freikaiserwagen special at the 1950 Blandford hillclimb, less than two months after driving a Maserati 4CL in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Joe Fry
Born at Wynnford Grange in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, Joe was a quiet man, who was a pilot in the 2nd World War. After the war he specialised in sprints and hill climbs. He also developed and built his own single-seaters and in 1949, he beat Raymond Mays' record for Shelsley Walsh in his Freikaiserwagen hillclimb and sprint car. This was powered by a 1100cc V-twin Blackburn air-cooled engine with two-stage supercharging.

The car was built by David and Joe Fry with input from Dick Caesar and post war the car was re-constructed with a new chassis. Joe also raced in 500cc Formula 3, driving an Iota (on occasion confusingly also named "Freikaiserwagen") and an Arengo, with which he took an easy win with at Lulsgate in April 1950.

For the size of their engines, his single-seaters were regarded as being the fastest at that time. In 1949, at the wheel of Maserati 4CL, he took part in the first F1 races, the BRDC International Trophy and Goodwood Trophy, where he finished a respectable 15th and 7th and in 1950 he drove the Masertati in the first GP in the history of the World Championship, the British Grand Prix. He completed 45 laps, before handing over to Brian Shawe-Taylor, finally sharing the 10th place.

A few weeks later, he took part in a small hill climb at Blandford Camp in Dorset, at the wheel of the Freikaiserwagen. The powerful little car which was notoriously difficult to control, crashed and Joe was killed. He is buried at St Katherines Church in Felton near Bristol, he was 34 years old.

From 1952 to 1954, a race was held in his honour at Castle Coombe. He became the second F1 driver to loose his life racing.