Lament In Blue

A friend of mine holds the firm conviction (secular, not religious) that there are no coincidences – things happen for a reason. And thinking back on some recent events, maybe he’s onto something.

Why do I say that? Allow me to explain.

On Tuesday came the sad news that Chris Amon, Le Mans winner and former F1 driver, had passed away at the age of 73. Chris accomplished much in his racing life, including the distinction of being the only man ever to win a Grand Prix in a Matra F1 car powered by Matra’s own V12 engine. Yes, it was a non-championship race but the fact remains.

During his two years with Matra, Chris combined F1 with driving for the team at Le Mans. He was in with a good chance of winning the French classic in 1972, but the MS 670 he shared with Jean-Pierre Beltoise was hit by mechanical issues shortly after the start. It was typical of Chris’s luck that the team’s other two MS 670s went on to finish first and second.

Matra MS670C, Silverstone, August 2016. Author’s photo.

Spin forward 44 years and an MS 670 (a later C specification model) was racing once more, this time in two Interserie races at the Silverstone Classic. It won both of them, the latter victory being in the event’s last race. And it wasn’t the only Matra to win at the meeting – an MS 650 took victory in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race.

Is it, I wonder, too fanciful to think that the blue cars were bidding adieu to a former star in the only way they could? Or is it just a coincidence that they both won on that particular weekend?

I know what my friend would say.

As for me, I’ll simply say this: the wail of the Matra V12 provided a fittingly noble lament for a great driver.

Chris Amon, Matra MS120D, French Grand Prix, 1972. Copyright unknown to the author.