Portrait of Hans, taken at the Monaco GP in 1960, courtesy of The Klemantski Collection.

The late Hans Tanner was namesake of my adoptive father.


Hans Tanner (Photo courtesy of his daughter Jenni, used with permission of Petersen Publishing Co.)


This photo of Hans at the start of the Virginia City hill climb which Hans would organize for the Ferrari Owners' Club was sent to me by his friend Larry Crane.

Larry wrote: "Virginia City is the richest silver strike in Nevada (in the mountains above Carson City, east of Tahoe and south of Reno). There were something like 1700 miles of shafts and drifts (horizontal tunnels). The town is a popular tourist destination. there were two roads up to the village (on the side of a mountain). The first is the original twisty trail with pavement. SCCA used it for a hill climb until the new 5.1-mile truck road was completed. Hans took that as an opportunity and arranged to close it to public traffic once each year. They loved Hans in Virginia City. He was both exotic and friendly. And, of course, was one of the great story tellers."


Thanks to Scott Groll for finding this photo. Per Larry Crane: "When Hans was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery there was no marker. Bill Ziering, a Ferrari Owners Club member went to the site and was astonished by his discovery. A collection was requested at a club meeting and Bill had the plaque made and installed."


Thanks to my dear friend Roger Rekus, who never discarded his magazines, for finding this 1971 photo. In it, Hans is on the left with Ernesto (center) and Bindo Maserati at the racing circut at Modena Italy. The magazine was'Sports Cars of the world', Peterson publishing company copyright 1971, editor Hans Tanner. Note the caption for photo #10 in the picture below: "...purchased from Hans Tanner.for 'Fon' (Count Alfonso) de Portago..."


Photo courtesy of Marc Hoffmann


Han's car referred in the article is the third photo down, #10. (Courtesy of Roger Rekus).

I am the adopted son of Hans Tanner's uncle Hans, who called himself John Tanner in America. My dad was the eldest of three Tanner brothers: Hans (John), Albert, and Walter. Albert, Hans' father, was born in 1900 in the industrial city of Schaffhausen. His hometown became nearby Neuhausen, the location of the famed Rheinfall, in Schaffhausen Canton, Switzerland.

Albert and his wife Hulda had two sons, Hans and Max. Both of the boys received a British grade school education, because Albert and Hulda had emigrated to England, where they lived through the end of World War II before returning to Neuhausen. Albert and Hulda and Max lived out their lives in Neuhausen. Max was a life-long Swissair maintenance technician, based in Zurich.

I met Hans once, in 1954. I visited Neuhausen several times, and my wife Ruth and daughter Mathilda (my late mother's namesake) and I are close to Max's widow Marie-Claire (originally from France, she and Max met while vacationing in Nice, France) and her son Robert and daughter Pamela (they are, like my sisters, blood-related to Hans).

Hans emigrated to America where he married, had a daughter and divorced.

Hans settled in the Los Angeles area. Following his association with auto racing (he wrote books about Ferrari, Maseratti, and Ford race cars, about great races, and about great drivers), he became editor of "Car and Driver" and of another of the publisher's magazines, "Guns and Ammo".

He became a collector of and authority on antique weapons. He began to date a divorcee who had a young son. He also became ill with a type of blood cancer like leukemia, but which ravages red blood cells instead of the white cells. I don't know whether the illness or the drugs and treatment for it made him mad at the end of his life, but he shot and killed his girlfriend and then himself.

I have one amusing story about Hans, told to me by my Uncle Albert. Apparently in the mid-1950s, Hans and driver Phil Hill were in a hurry to get from Italy where there had just been a race to Paris, where they had hot dates lined up. They stopped in Neuhausen to pick up some of Hans's clothes. Then they raced on to Paris, at breakneck speed. I remarked to Uncle Albert that they probably did well on the European back roads, driving a Ferrari. He told me that they were driving a Buick. I can just imagine that!

Hans was a very private person, and the family has few photos of him. There may have been some in his collections, but all of his effects were sold at auction to pay a civil judgment to his victim's son. (That was proper.) His daughter found me through this Web site in May 2007 and sent me the portrait above. Also, a writer who got his first job under Hans and also worked for him at two publishing companies saw this site and contacted me, sending a personal remembrance.


Links to pages related to Hans Tanner

ZAGATO’S s/n 0515 GT
Mike Hawthorne Tribute site
Motosport" Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Gravesite
Google images of his books
Goodwood Revival Weekend 2002, Maseratis in the paddock!Atlas F1 Bulletin Board
You can find a thread about Hans in the "Nostalgia Forum" (login required to post, registration is free)
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