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Stone Parish Council


Former Stone resident - Peter Collins

Peter Collins was born on 6th November 1931 and spent his childhood at Mustow green, his father was a garage owner and road haulier, this meant that Peter became familiar with cars at a very early age.

Expelled from school for working at one of the many roaming fun fairs, he then became an apprentice in the family garage and began competing in local trials.

Peter started racing in the 500cc category (later to become formula 3), At the age of 19 his parents bought him a Cooper 500 from the relatively new Cooper motor company but first minor success came when he switched to the JBS-Norton in 1951.

But his first real breakthrough came at a party hosted by pre-war lady racing driver Kay Petre, he managed to meet John Wyer the team principle at Aston Martin, earning a test drive at Silverstone, at that test drive Aston Martin were joined by F2 team HWM, by the time the test ended Peter had contracts with both teams! Joining HWM he was part of a 3 car team with Lance Macklin and Stirling Moss, between them they won most F2 races in Britain and England, but the poorly financed HWM were holding him back and the best he did was second.

He broke into F1 when Stirling Moss left in 1952, but success again evaded him and the best he did in a World Championship was sixth, after more disappointment he left in 1953. His knowledge of engines was poor so he was happy to rely on his mechanics whilst he drove in his own inimitable style.

In 1954 Tony Vandervell signed Peter to drive the ‘Thinwall special’ a potent machine which was a big crowd pleaser at Formula events. He joined the BRM team in 1955 after being a thorn in their side for years, but throughout the first half of the fifties he was getting a lot of success with sports cars and the Aston Martin team. He had a brilliant victory at the 1952 Goodwood nine hour race, followed next year by a victory in the RAC Tourist Trophy.

After a superb year in 1955 he was signed by Ferrari, in those early days he earned the full admiration of Enzo Ferrari who had just lost his son Dino, he took Peter under his wing and treated him as one of the family.

In 1956 he moved to Monaco to avoid compulsory National service which – he thought – would effectively put a premature end to his career. In

1957 he met and married American actress Louise King, the couple lived aboard a yacht in Monaco harbour, it was around this time that Nigel Hawthorn joined Ferrari and the two would become the best of friends and even made a pact to split all their earnings between each other. Peter got stronger with Ferrari and recorded a few non championship wins, but the playboy lifestyle he led was taking over, he was sacked by Ferrari after deliberately burning out the clutch in the car he shared with Mike Hawthorn, two or three times Peter was sacked and on each occasion his friend Mike got him re-instated.

His greatest achievement was beating Stirling Moss into second place in the RAC British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but he drove a very dangerous race.

Ferrari’s constant battle with opponents Vanwalls was to prove to be Peter’s downfall, in 1958 he was third in the drivers championship when

- during the German Grand prix in an attempt to overtake Tony Brooks his car flipped over, Collins, however, was flung from his car but sustained fatal head injuries after hitting a tree. It served as another cruel blow for Ferrari, following the death of Italian Luigi Musso in the French Grand Prix the previous month. The third and final fatality was that of Vanwall driver Stuart Lewis-Evans at the season-ending Moroccan Grand Prix which cast a shadow over the whole season. The World Champion Mike Hawthorn was so disturbed by those tragedies, including the death of Collins, that he retired after the season and would himself die in a road crash in January 1959. Collins is buried in Worcestershire.

There was no doubt that Peter Collins would have been the next contender for the F1 World Championship.

But, there was yet another twist in the story...

This story is from the Kidderminster Shuttle 2008:-

A Stourport woman has spoken of her belief that Kidderminster-born racing driver, Peter Collins, visited her in a dream before she found out he had died in a crash earlier the same day.

Pattie Silk, 77, added that, months earlier, Collins, who was killed in 1958, had proposed to her before he moved to France to avoid doing National Service.

She explained: “When I was 26 and still living at home, I had a most vivid dream that Peter kissed my forehead.

“It woke me up and my forehead was damp and ice cold. Going down to breakfast , I told my mother and, without a word, she gave me the morning paper.

“It said Peter Collins had died in a tragic accident the day before. My experience was so significant and it really felt like he had been with me.”

Mrs Silk said she was friends with Collins when they were both in their mid-teens. She explained: “We met through mutual friends and got on very well.

“We went to the Odeon in Worcester one Saturday afternoon, to see James Cagney in White Heat, and went for afternoon tea afterwards.

“He was full of fun and a grand chap.”

Mrs Silk said one lunchtime she was walking up Station Hill, in Kidderminster, when Collins’s car “screeched to a stop” next to her. She went on: “Peter jumped out and really grabbed my arm.

“He said: ‘I have to go and live in France or else I shall have to join the forces to do National Service. That would put a stop to my racing driver training and I can’t do that.’ “He then asked me: ‘Will you become engaged to me and come with me, please?’”

Mrs Silk said: “I was stunned, as we were only friends, nothing more. I think he was so scared of going away on his own that he panicked.”

She said she turned him down, explaining to him that she was studying for a diploma to be a dance teacher and had to stay in Kidderminster.

She added: “After that, he kissed my cheek and off he went. I never saw him again.”

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