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An amputated career



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Steven South


McLaren-Cosworth M29


Long Beach


1980 US West GP (qualifying)


In 1979, people had great things in mind when Steven South's F1 future was the topic of conversation. The 1977 British F3 Champion - in the Vandervell series - had moved up to F2 in 1979, taking a drive with Ron Dennis' Project 4 team as team mate to Derek Daly. After taking two poles and scoring a win, the Harrow-born Englishman finished sixth in the final standings. South was poised for glory in the world's major category when he subbed for Alain Prost at McLaren after the little Frenchman hurt his wrist in practice for the previous race at Kyalami. The M29 was a terrible car, however, borne out by the fact that even the ultra-talented Prost had to fight hard for midfield grid positions at best. South, who was set to take a Toleman drive in F2 but opted for McLaren instead, failed to qualify the car at Long Beach. As it happened, his F1 debut was just as badly timed as those of Marco Apicella or Norberto Fontana in recent years.

The unlucky South then disappeared from the top motorsport scene altogether after crashing badly in a CanAm race later in the year. The accident hurt his leg so bad that it had to be amputated.