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The human side of Formula 1
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jun 2010   |  3:16 pm GMT  |  35 comments

Chris Mays died last week. His name probably doesn’t mean much to you, but he was in the pit crew at Williams and more recently Honda. He had an accident a few years ago on a motorbike in Thailand and was in a vegetative state ever since.


But the story of how the F1 community rallied round for him and his family at the time of his accident is a good example of the human side of the sport.

The drivers were very generous; most of them donated a signed item of memorabilia to raise funds. Michael Schumacher gave a set of signed Ferrari overalls which raised £21,000, many gave helmets, race boots and overalls and in total the drivers gear raised £70,000.

Jackie Stewart’s Grand Prix Mechanics Trust, of which I am a trustee, helped to repatriate him and set him up in care, a total spend of around £40,000.

The money gave him a high quality of care and will provide for his children for the future.

Chris’ funeral will take place on Wednesday.

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35 Comments
  1. Andy C says:

    James
    thanks for the insight. You are right that that we don’t see much of the human side of f1. Good to hear of the support the f1 community has given to his family. Sure they appreciated the support after such a tragic accident.

  2. Howard Hughes says:

    Brilliant stuff. I’ve heard lots of stories over the years of quiet little generosities from the drivers… didn’t MS also end up being the single largest private donor to the tsunami fund a few years back?

    That’s some great work you’re obviously doing with the trust – I hadn’t heard of that. Well done to all, and sympathies to Chris’ family…

  3. Banjo says:

    It’s good to hear that formula one teams and drivers look out for one another.

    A sad loss,
    my thoughts are with his family.

  4. michael grievson says:

    This is very sad news. May he rest in peace.

  5. Wayne says:

    James, thank you for shareing this story, it is gratifying to see that this sort of tragic tale with a heartening side story can still make headlines on one of F1′s most authoritive blogsites.

    This is a side of the drivers and general F1 community which is often overlooked in the high pressure, slick-glam, ferocious consumerism world of F1.

  6. Michael says:

    It is good how F1 looks after it’s people when they need it. I’d not heard of this but of course there was the Smedley charity event/auction and appeal. It’s really nice to see the human side and long may it continue!

  7. Mouse_Nightshirt says:

    Sorry to hear of this tragic loss of life. However, as you say, it’s so incredibly heartening to hear of the good will of the whole community in F1. The sport is still a family after all.

    My condolences to his family.

  8. Nic says:

    This is an honor that runs through the motor racing world, no matter who you are, where you are, if you are involved in motor racing then you have friends around the world.
    R.I.P. Chris Mays and condolences to his family.

  9. Amritraj says:

    Very touching. Amidst all the cut-throat competition and other ancillaries of F1, such initiatives really touch a chord.

    Thanks for bringing this to light, James.

  10. Vivek Krishna A says:

    Sad to hear that. But moments like these bring out the real ‘me’ inside every person. And the F1 fraternity have shown immense humanity and support to him and his family.

    Let God be with his family. God Bless!

  11. Anshul says:

    RIP Chris. Excellent gesture from the drivers and F1 community. Wish this only spreads further not only within the F1 community but beyond.

  12. sw6569 says:

    A poignant reminder of how F1 is not about glitz and glamour the whole time. Thanks for posting this James, I appreciate the brevity of it as well, as it speaks volumes about not wishing to be self indulgent, particularly at a sensitive time like this for Mr Mays and his family.

    RIP

  13. CHIUNDA says:

    Its good to know the human side of the sport. Apart from Senna, which other driver pays some attention to real humanity issues like health, education, poverty and peace in places like South America, Africa, Middle East, Some Centra European countries and Asia?

  14. kbdavies says:

    R.I.P Chris Mays. My sincere condolences to his family.

  15. Colin says:

    Very sad news, but I’m afraid I do not accept “The drivers were very generous”. In my mind the racing public were generous.

    I do not know what the average salery paid to the drivers is, but the top guys reportedly earn millions. In that context, a signed helmet, gloves or whatever is hardly what I would call generous.

    The money that was raised appears to have been paid by the public!

    I for one am fed-up with hearing how much some celebrities “do” for charity, when they do not “give” in the same proportion as the long-suffering members of the public who give up
    their hard earned cash.

    In proportion, the £70,000 rasied could have been matched by the drivers without batting an eyelid!

    1. FastGuy says:

      I’ll second that.

  16. Jon says:

    Very sad, but very nice story. Well done to all involved. RIP Chris.

  17. steve says:

    James thankyou,very sad to hear,often we fail to recognise life outside our own,and even more so in the world of F1,i see people die often, but it never gets easier.

    My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  18. Galapago555 says:

    A nice post, James, no matter it’s sad. My thougts are with Chris’ family. May he rest in peace. Good to know that there’s people of good will inside the Circus.

  19. Mike Murphy says:

    R.I.P Chris Mays. My sincere condolences to his family.

  20. Artorwar says:

    Very very sad news. Thanks for a great insight James.

  21. Bo Amato says:

    Very touching, great to read people being nice to others. Proud to be an F1 fan!!!!

  22. James H says:

    RIP Chris – Thoughts are with family and friends.

  23. russ parkin says:

    good to show the under the rug stuff and shows schumi is not a hard nosed bstard as people seem to think, shame this has the lowest postings on all your blog. hope his family remember him as a legend

  24. Tim B says:

    Thanks for sharing that James – sad story, but good to hear the positive side of it.

  25. RON says:

    How become the drivers gave no money?

  26. Kedar says:

    Really touching story, may his soul rest in peace and thanks James and others for helping the unsung heroes of F1.
    I wouldn’t want to belittle the contribution from the drivers, but still I would expect them to at least donate a days earnings each for someone who works so close to them (this was a voluntary standard practice in a factory that I worked in India when there were even non work related tragedies).

  27. WigF1 says:

    Wow, thanks for letting us know about this James. It is always good to see F1 and it’s entourage being touched and helping their own. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  28. James K says:

    Thank you for sharing a brief history of his life, and for providing a small window into the real life of the circus.

  29. Chris says:

    Rest In Peace Chris … I must confess that I did not know about his accident. However, it is very nice to know that, despite the high level of competition within F1 and the competitive nature of F1 race drivers, when something like this happens, all gather together in aid of the needed within the community. And rightly so, that’s how it should be!

  30. Obster says:

    James-thanks for letting us know about this. These guys as individuals each bring a part of their genius to making F1 the brilliant sport it is today.

  31. Alex J says:

    Very sad to hear about Chris, but it’s good to hear that the F1 community takes care of their own and sticks together.

    Thank you for reporting this James. The human side should be touched upon more.

  32. Mike G says:

    R.I.P Chris,
    Finally your family can rest knowing you are no longer in pain and are free from your constraints following your accident.
    Thoughts to Chris’s family at this time.

    James,
    Grateful to see the family of F1 being reported on, although in this instance not the best news.
    Please keep stories such as Chris’s news and other behind the scenes activity coming. We F1 fans enjoy more than just the racing and politics.

    Mike

  33. Ridson says:

    A good insight…let us thinking how many parts of a pilot’s caracter we don’t know.

    Maw Chris rest in peace

  34. SEL says:

    I knew Chris and shared many happy times through our teenage years hanging out and tinkering on scooters and old cars, he travelled a lot as a young man and was very optimistic and lived life to the full. The most vivid memory of Chris was his huge constant smile, he clearly made an impact on his collegues at F1 also. We miss him and I am honoured to have been his friend, rest peacefully Chris

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