The Hon. John Dawson-Damer owned one of the world’s best private collection of Lotus racing cars, but the British-born enthusiast was more widely known as his adopted Australia’s representative on the FIA Historic Car Commission than as a competitor.
Son of Viscount Carlow, who died in active service when John was a child, and younger brother of the Earl of Portarlington, Eton-educated John’s passion for Lotus grew out of a school visit to Colin Chapman’s Hornsey factory in 1958. He subsequently became a regular spectator, at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. ‘Dee Dee’, as he liked to be known, emigrated to Perth in 1964, aged 24, to join his family’s Austral Engineering Supplies business.
His Lotus collection grew from the acquisition of a frontengined type 16 which he raced in the early 1970s. He added an 18, Jim Clark’s 1963 world championship winning 25, the Tasman 39, a 49, the four-wheel-drive 63 and a 79. John’s major success came in rallying, however, when he navigated Colin Bond to the national title in 1979.
Dawson-Damer was not only a fine engineer and a real gentleman, but also a respected authority on historic racing, having chaired Australian ruling body CAMS’ Historic Commission for 20 years. Latterly based in Sydney, John is survived by his wife, Ashley, and two children, to whom Motor Sport extends its deepest sympathies. MP