The Brooklands Society
know your cars and drivers section


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Dick Seaman

Richard John Beattie-Seaman was born on the 4th February 1913 near Chichester.

Years later in the early thirties he befriended Whitney Straight at Cambridge who had already started motor racing and was in the process of setting up his Straight-Maserati based Grand Prix team. Straight was disposing of his race prepared 1,100 c.c. M.G. Magnette, which Dick persuaded his mother to buy for him, convincing her that it was an ordinary sports car.

He entered into an arrangement with Straight so that the car would be prepared and entered by him so that Seaman could quietly gain some racing experience in short races at Brooklands and Donington with a view to genuinely joining the Grand Prix team at a later date.

Early in 1934 he told his parents that he was quitting Cambridge, as straight had done the previous year to take up motor racing professionally. He continued to race without great distinction, now in Europe and his breakthrough came at Berne on 26th August 1934 when he won his first race in very wet conditions, later referred to by Whitney as "frightening" on account of the large number of small cars which kept getting in his way.

More racing continued but at the end of that season straight suddenly announced that he was quitting racing and Dick persuaded his mother to buy him an E.R.A. He took delivery of E.R.A. R.1.B. in April 1935 and raced it for the first time at Chimay in Belgium on 9th June only to retire with piston trouble. However successes were to follow and later that year he was placed first three times. this was the E.R.A. that the band leader Billy Cotton raced extensively in 1937 and 1938.

Dick felt very strongly that E.R.A. were not giving him professional support and that their preparation was shambolic. So strongly that he purchased Campbell’s 1927 straight eight Delage at Ramponi’s suggestion that he could lighten it and improve it considerably and successfully took the E.R.A. team on head to head in 1936.

By this time he was broadening his experience out considerably, winning Pescara, Berne and the T.T. in the Delage in what turned out to be an outstanding year for him. Naturally the Germans were impressed and the following year Neubauer invited him to join them after tests at the Nurburgring in which he proved fast, consistent and therefore reliable. He has also tested with Auto Union but their continual delays in making a decision to take him on lost them their English driver.

Numerous accidents and successes followed as he learnt to control these very powerful cars and in 1938 he won at the Nurburgring and was second in Switzerland.

He married Erica Popp the daughter of Franz Popp, the head of B.M.W. and was permanently resident in Germany although the political climate was becoming difficult as it became obvious that war was imminent.

The wet 1939 Grand Prix at Spa was to be his last for when he was in the lead he skidded, hit a tree and subsequently died in hospital.

 

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| Performance Parameters | General Data |

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