Aryan racer: the British Formula 1 driver who became a Nazi hero

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Aryan racer: the British Formula 1 driver who became a Nazi hero

Dick Seaman’s legacy has struggled to escape the shadow of the Fuhrer, argues his biographer

Richard Williams

If anything was guaranteed to leave a troublesome stain on the legacy of a man who might have become one of Britain’s greatest sporting heroes, it was the arrival at his funeral of a wreath bearing condolences from Adolf Hitler.

Two metres high and made of white Madonna lilies, the floral tribute required two men to carry it into the Knightsbridge church where the great names of motor racing were gathered in June 1939 to pay their last respects to Richard Seaman, 26, who had died the previous Sunday, after crashing while in the lead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

A year earlier, standing on the podium at the Nürburgring, with a swastika-bedecked ribbon entwined in his victor’s wreath of oak leaves, Dick Seaman had listened as God Save the King was played to a crowd of 300,000 Germans. He had just become the first British driver to win a major grand prix in 15 years. Yet at the moment of his greatest triumph, his sheepish expression betrayed very mixed feelings...

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