The Killer Years

I urge any fan of any branch of motorsport to watch this programme.

It will not be an easy watch, although it may be easier if you are accustomed to watching war documentaries with the detachment that brings.

It tells the story of Grand Prix racing, and racing generally, in the 1960s and 1970s and the attitudes that persisted at the time. It tells of the battle fought by Jackie Stewart and others to change the attitudes by all means necessary. The shock after Clark. And it shows the courage and bravery of these drivers to continue what they were doing as their peers were being killed off.

As Stewart says, “it was like the circuit owners were holding a pistol to our heads”.

It also tells of the immense bravery of David Purley and the stupidity and futility of those who either couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to help Roger Williamson, and so many others through the years.

On a different note, aside from the valuable history lesson, it is also worth watching for the other period footage (most of which I had never seen before) and the contemporary interviews with ‘names’ from the time and notable racing historians such as David Tremayne.

If you are in the UK you can watch on the BBC iPlayer before Sunday by using this link:

If you are outside the UK or are reading this after Sunday, you can find the programme on YouTube in 4 chunks of 15 minutes: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. I urge UK residents to please use the BBC video above – it registers a viewing with the BBC and will encourage them to air more motorsport documentaries.

Like any documentary it may have a few faults, things it misses for brevity.. but it is still worth a watch.

Do watch it.


2 thoughts on “The Killer Years”

  1. We watched it and even Mrs. Goat ‘enjoyed’ it – if that’s the right term to use.

    The Roger Williamson footage is just shocking. Why did nobody stop to help David Purley?

    The saddest thing is that these guys were wasted for such trivial reasons when some basic stuff could have saved them – amazing how little regard people had for safety back then.

    I am so thankful the sport is so much safer today.


  2. Yes, it was weird but I ‘enjoyed’ it too, I know what you mean about the term, but it is good to be informed in this way.

    As someone who reads up on the history of the sport I was aware of the lack of safety at the time but this really does bring it home and make it more real, far more than written accounts or post-event stills ever could.

    I just can’t understand why nobody else stopped despite having had years of debate about safety by then.


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