On 6th July 1958, Luigi Musso crashed heavily off the track at the Muizon corner in Reims and lost his life during the French Grand Prix. He had been chasing Ferrari team-mate Mike Hawthorn at the time. Not only was Musso an accomplished driver, he was also a well educated and cultured person, the son of a diplomat who had spent most of his life working in China. He was also a good horseman, a crack shot and a talented fencer.
In the early Fifties, he got started in motor racing, racing Sports cars. In 1953, he made his Formula 1 debut at the wheel of a Maserati 250F, finishing seventh in the Italian Grand Prix. Luigi Musso’s time with Ferrari got off to the best possible start when, teamed with the Argentine, Juan Manuel Fangio, he won the Argentine GP in 1956. The following year he took a splendid win in the non-championship Grand Prix de la Marne, at Reims, while in the championship, he came second behind Fangio in France and second in Britain behind the local driver pairing of Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss. He also came fourth in Germany which saw him go third in the standings. The 1958 season began with two second places in Argentina behind Moss and in Monaco behind Frenchman Maurice Trintignant. Then came that fateful, tragic 6 July.
The race is a prime example of the danger of Formula One at the time. Of the 21 starters, six would die in racing cars within the next three years. Musso died in the race itself, while Peter Collins would die in that year’s German Grand Prix, Lewis-Evans would die at the Moroccan Grand Prix, Jean Behra would die in a support race for the 1959 German Grand Prix, Harry Schell would die in practice for the 1960 BRDC International Trophy, and Wolfgang von Trips and a dozen spectators would die at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.